The king, the Jesuits and the French Church, 1594-1615
This thesis offers a re-examination of the expulsion, return and subsequent integration of the Jesuits into France during the reign of Henry IV and the regency of Marie de Medicis (1594- 1615). Drawing on archival material from Paris, Rome and London, it argues that in order to understand the Society of Jesus's role in seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century France one must understand the circumstances of their return. The critical moment for the Society in France, this study contends, was the promulgation of the Edict of Rouen in 1603, not their expulsion in 1594. The Edict and the royal goodwill which sanctioned it gave the Society a legal standing in France and established a set of conditions which formed the basis for a new Jesuit role in the French church and wider society. Moreover, the Edict of Rouen was more than just an attempt by Henry IV to bring peace to the Catholic church; it was also an important assertion of royal authority in the French church. Indeed, I argue that the return of the Society exclusively through royal clemency or grâce defined an important alliance between the monarchy and the Jesuits which was to be a significant feature of the French church for more than a century. Although numerous historians have already looked at various aspects of this important topic, this thesis is the first to argue that the most important development of this period for our understanding of the Society's position and role in France was the accommodation of the Society by the French church and French royal administrative structures after the king's will was expressed in 1603. It also asserts that it was the reality of compromise not the rhetoric of conflict which should shape our understanding of the Society's integration into France and their role in the French church in the seventeenth century.