logo

Civil Constitution of the Clergy

To be ignorant of history is to remain always a child - Cicero
Featured in Macworld - one of the
best history sites on the web

exhibit menu


cartoon representation of the confiscation of church lands

The National Assembly resolved the immediate financial crisis by seizing church lands and in The Civil Constitution of the Clergy putting the church under the control of the State. Abbe Sieyes fiercely resisted the passage of this legislation and accused the other delegates of "bourgeois envy." But he was overruled. The measure was very controversial to a nation of Catholics and drew support away from the new government.

This legislation (and legislation imediately before and after it) significantly reduced the power of the Catholic Church. The Church had been the largest landowner in France. The state took over this fortune in property and issued a paper currency, assignats, backed by confiscated church property. Priests were now employed by the state. Clergymen were required to swear an oath to the new constitution. Many refused to swear the oath and were placed under arrest.


Part of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité: The French Revolution Exhibit

The French Revolution

The French Revolution Primary Sources

copyright HIstoryWiz 1999-2008


Through Amazon.com
HistoryWiz Books

Your purchase of books or other items through links on this site helps keep this free educational site on the web.