Concordat of 1801

Jane Doe

Choose a primary source from the list provided in the instructions.

HIST 111

May 30, 2017

Primary and Secondary Source Comparison

The Concordat of 1801

The primary source selected for this comparison was The Concordat of 1801 between Napoleon Bonaparte and Pope Pius VII. This source was first published in 1801, went into effect in 1802, and remained in place until 1905. The audience was French Catholics and clerics, as well as other European rulers. It was an agreement between the French government and the Roman Catholic Church on how the Church would operate in France. During the Revolutionary Period (the 1790s), revolutionaries dismantled and banned the Catholic Church, seized its properties, forced clerics to marry, invaded Rome, replaced the papal government of Rome with a secular republic, and imprisoned Pope Pius VI in France until his death. (Films Media Group, 1997). After his ascent to the Consulship, Bonaparte recognized the benefits of allying with the new Pope. The negotiations took place in Paris, France between Bonaparte and representatives of Pope Pius VII. The final agreement began with the recognition “that the Roman, Catholic and Apostolic religion is the religion of the great majority of French citizens” (Concordat, 1801, para. 1). It reaffirmed some of the Revolutionary reforms to the Church: the French government continued to pay salaries for clerics, clerics swore an Oath of Fidelity to France, non-worship buildings seized from the Church would not be returned, the French government authorized Church decrees before the Church could implement them in France, and the French leader appointed bishops and archbishops (Concordat, 1801). In return, France returned all worship buildings, bishops appointed cures, dioceses could possess seminaries, and the pope became relevant in France again (Concordat, 1801; Films Media Group, 1997). The authors’ biases are apparent as well. The agreement heavily favored French interests and the government’s oversight of the Catholic Church in France. The impact of the primary source on history was immense. It defined the relationship between the French government and the Catholic Church for the next 100 years, as well as changed the role of the papacy (Films Media Group, 1997).

The primary source is identified and the questions listed in item 5 of the instructions are thoroughly answered in regard to the source.

One secondary source article is selected for comparison on a similar topic (See 2 on instructions).

The secondary source selected was a scholarly journal article published in The Catholic Historical Review. Its author was Sr. M. Barbara, who was a Catholic nun. The audience for this article would be students, faculty and/or history lovers trying to understand the relationship between the French and the Roman Catholic Church. Barbara explains her thesis, “a retrospective survey should be taken of the periods in which contending and far-reaching forces began to act against the Church in France” (Barbara, 1926, p. 1). The article was published in 1926, making it irrefutably a secondary source. The article summarizes the reasons for the Church’s declining popularity during the 18th century: one third of the land in France belonged to the Church, the Church was tax-exempt, and France faced an economic crisis (Barbara, 1926). It claims the Concordat and its re-establishment of Catholicism ensured 100 years of peace in France (Barbara, 1926). Prior to reading this article, I understood the revolutionaries were anti-Church but I did not understand why.

The secondary source is identified and the questions listed in item 5 of the instructions are thoroughly answered in regard to the source.

When you read the Concordat, you realize it favors the French. On its face, it does not make sense why the Pope agreed to it. By reading the secondary source, the historical context becomes clear. Barbara summarizes the rise of anti-Catholic sentiment throughout the 18th century. Her focus on Pope Pius VI’s imprisonment, and the consequent feeling in Europe that the papacy was irrelevant, really brought the Concordat into focus. You see Bonaparte concretize the Revolutionary period reforms while he acknowledged most French citizens were Catholic. Yet he gives some concessions to the Pope that were largely symbolic: return of urban centers of worship and limited shared power over ecclesiastical matters. Through Pius VII’s agreement, he reinvigorated the role of the papacy in a post-revolutionary and increasingly secularized world. To truly understand the perspectives of history it is necessary to read and consider a primary source such as The Concordat of 1801 in context. This is where reading secondary sources are most helpful

A paragraph summarizing what you learned by comparing the primary source with your selected secondary source. This is not just a summary of the sources, but what you learned about different source types.

Works Cited

Barbara, M. Sr. (1926). Napoleon Bonaparte and the restoration of Catholicism in France. The

Catholic Historical Review 12(2). Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America


Durnham, R. (Ed.) (n.d.). The Concordat of 1801. The Napoleon Series. Retrieved May 30, 2017,


The pope and the people: Saints and sinners – the history of the Popes [Video file]. (1997).

Retrieved May 30, 2017 from

Include a properly formatted bibliography that includes your chosen primary source, the video clip associated with it on the Assignment Sheet, and the secondary source you chose about your primary source. This is in APA format, but you may also use MLA or Chicago style for Humanities. In this example, the Microsoft Word reference tool was used to create an APA Works Cited page.

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