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VARIETIES OF GALLICANISM: FOUR SORBONNE DOCTORS ON DIRIMENT IMPEDIMENTS TO MATRIMONY (1674–1691) Jacques M. Gres-Gayer* As a coherent and stable doctrine “Gallicanism” does not actually exist. The now classical term was created by nineteenth century lexicographers eager to classify a variety of practices and theories; the fact that they had to distinguish different categories, “episcopal,” “political,” “parliamentary,” etc., indicates that it is not very operative; it is even misleading by suggesting an ideological homogeneity that never existed. The Four Articles of the 1682 Declaration of the Clergy represent the only normative reference, but their exposition and interpretation confirm and illustrate the same complexity of views.1 These divergences, on the other hand, are not erratic, they represent the elements of a continuing debate, standard in theological or canonical fields, with the purpose of establishing a position, admitted or accepted by many, that would eventually be recognized as binding by all. “Gallicanism,” therefore was a work in progress, always to be nuanced, improved, refined, according to the needs of the time, with the optimistic conviction that this interpretation of Catholicism would inevitably become the only acceptable one. One concise example of this process can be found in a minor debate that took place between members of that alleged bedrock of Gallicanism, the Faculty of Theology of Paris, commonly known as the Sorbonne.2 It dealt with a clearly “Gallican” topic: the interpretation of Tridentine legislation concerning matrimony, more precisely the establishment of diriment impediments. Four Sorbonne Doctors were involved in a short but The Jurist 68 (2008) 38–52 38 * School of Theology and Religious Studies, Catholic University of America 1 The best exposition of Gallicanism remains Aimé-Georges Martimort, Le gallicanisme (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1973). 2 The Sorbonne was one of the resident colleges of the University of Paris, the other major one was that of Navarre. The Faculty of Theology met in the Great Hall of the Sorbonne , hence the association by metonymy. The most reliable history of the institution is: André Tuilier, Histoire de l’université de Paris et de la Sorbonne (Paris: Nouvelles Librairie de France, 1994). For a general overview see Jacques M. Gres-Gayer, “The Magisterium of the Faculty of Theology of Paris in the Seventeenth Century,” Theological Studies 53 (1992) 424–450. exemplary literary dispute, their exchanges illustrate and explain the fascinating variety of Gallicanism. Background The learned reader of The Jurist will not need to be presented the Tridentine legislation on matrimony, just to be reminded that these dispositions were an element of the non-reception of that council in the kingdom of France.3 The motivations will soon be explicit, they were expressed in a series of Ordonnances published at Blois in 1579, a document that restated in a modified form the conciliar decrees.4 It was integrated in the Code Michaud, the body of laws of the kingdom. These and later legal interpretations represent the references our four authors will appeal to. Another decision of great importance was associated with a period of tension in the history of the monarchy: the marriage of Gaston Duke of Orléans, brother of the then childless Louis XIII, to the daughter of a foe, Marguerite of Lorraine (January 3, 1632). This potential dynastic crisis was preempted by decisions of the Sorbonne and of the Assembly of Clergy, declaring the invalidity of the marriage, since “Princes of Blood” needed the King’s consent.5 A diriment impediment has thus been declared, if not created.6 A few years later, as a part of a general anti-Gallican offensive, a pamphlet denounced it as a schismatic act; the official theologian of the Paris diocese, soon to be a forceful antiJansenist —and a bishop—was recruited to offer a learned justification.7 Not to be forgotten. varieties of gallicanism 39 3 Victor Martin, Le gallicanisme et la réforme catholique (Paris: A. Picard, 1919) 168–172. 4 Article 40 demanded four witnesses to a marriage, including the pastor. Article 41 declared invalid the marriage of minors under twenty five without their parents’ consent. See Jules Basdevant, Des rapports de l’Église et de l’État dans la législation du mariage, du Concile...