Spiritual Reformer or Agent of the State? French Imperialism and the Role of the Apostolic Visitor in Constantinople, 1604–1706

Thursday, January 2, 2014: 3:30 PM
Wilson Room B (Marriott Wardman Park)
Megan Armstrong, McMaster University
The renewal of the Capitulations Treaty in 1604 saw the Bourbon monarchy play an increasingly activist role in the religious life of Catholic (Latin) Christians living in the Ottoman lands of the Mediterranean. There were a number of reasons for this. The end of the Wars of Religion and subsequent promulgation of the Edict of Nantes in 1598 enabled the Bourbon monarchy to pay more attention to its interests in the Mediterranean.  The renewed Capitulations also recognized the French monarchy in the role of “Protector of the Holy Places,” a status which gave France primacy as the mediator of Catholic interests at the Ottoman Porte.  It was on the basis of this claim to the role of Protector that the Crown was able to insist upon papal appointment of French Capuchins in the position of Apostolic visitor to Constantinople by the 1620s. Looking at three controversial episodes involving the apostolic visitor and the Observant Franciscans over missions in Constantinople and the Holy Land between 1626 and 1706, this paper will illuminate the mutually reinforcing demands of spiritual reform and imperial expansion underpinning French engagement in the Mediterranean at this time. Diplomatic letters speak to a shared rhetoric of reform on the part of the French ambassadors and the apostolic visitors; a rhetoric, however, that on the part of the visitors often spoke as much to Capuchin conceptions of spiritual perfection and their rivalry with their fellow Franciscans, the Observants, as it did to the expansion of French control over Catholic missions
Previous Presentation | Next Presentation >>