The Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges had a little defect; it was radically null; for every contract is null which is not consented to by both of the contracting parties.
Continuing Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges,
our selection from Histoire Universelle de l’Église Catholique by René F. Rohrbacher published in 1853. The selection is presented in 2.5 easy five minute installments. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages
Previously in Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges.
The other articles may be reduced principally to the following propositions: Canonical elections shall be held, and the pope shall not reserve the bishoprics and other elective benefices. Expectant pardons shall be abolished. Graduates shall be preferred to others in the conferring of benefices, and for this reason they shall suggest their degrees during Lent. All ecclesiastical causes of the provinces at a distance of four days’ journey from Rome shall be tried in the place where they arise, except major causes and those of churches which are immediately dependent on the holy see. In the case of appeals, the order of the tribunals shall be preserved. No one shall ever appeal to the pope without passing previously through the intermediate tribunal. If anyone, believing himself injured by an intermediate tribunal subject to the pope, makes an appeal to the holy see, the pope shall name the judges from the same places, unless there should be important reasons for bringing the cause directly to Rome. Frivolous appeals are punished. The celebration of divine service is regulated and spectacles in churches are forbidden. The abuse of ecclesiastical censures is repressed, and it is declared that no one is obliged to shun excommunicated persons, unless they have been proclaimed by name, or else that the censure shall be so notorious that it cannot be denied or excused. Such are the principal matters of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges. It was registered at the Parliament of Paris, July 13, 1439; but the King ordered its execution from the day of its date, 1438.
The Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges had a little defect; it was radically null; for every contract is null which is not consented to by both of the contracting parties. Now the Pragmatic Sanction was a contract between the churches of France and the pope to regulate their mutual relations. The consent of the pope to it was therefore absolutely necessary, the more especially as he was the superior. For if one must admit that a general council is superior to the pope, the Assembly of Bourges was certainly not a general council. Moreover, the first use that it made of its Pragmatic Sanction was to break it — and happily. In its first articles, it had recognized the Council of Basel as ecumenical and as superior to Pope Eugenius IV, with obligation to everyone to obey its decrees. Now, the following year, 1439, the Council of Basel deposes Eugenius IV, and substitutes for him Felix V, with obligation to everyone, under penalty of anathema, to reject the first and submit to the second. Nevertheless France does neither the one nor the other; she continues to recognize Eugenius IV, and derides the pope of Ripaille and of Basel, as she will declare in a new assembly of Bourges in 1440. Above certain laws which men write on sheets of paper, with a goose-quill and ink, they bear in themselves another law, written by the hand of God, and which is good sense. Happy the nations which never depart from this living and general law, or which, at least, know enough to return to it promptly!
Accordingly, September 2, 1440, in the new Assembly of Bourges, King Charles VII published a declaration by which he commanded all his subjects to yield obedience to Pope Eugenius, with prohibition to recognize another pope or to circulate among the public any letters or dispatches bearing the name of any other one whomsoever who pretended to the pontificate. Nevertheless, Monsieur de Savoie, for so Charles VII called the antipope, was united to him by ties of blood. This declaration of the King and of the Assembly of Bourges was religiously observed in all France, except in the University of Paris, where they declared openly enough for the antipope. The reason of this is very simple: the doctors of the Church in Paris dominated in the mob of Basel, the antipope was of their own creation, and their colleagues of Paris could not fail to recognize him.
As for King Charles VII, at the close of the year 1441 he sent an embassy to Pope Eugenius to ask the convocation of a general council which should put an end to the troubles of Christendom. The principal orator was the Bishop of Meaux, Pierre de Versailles, formerly Bishop of Digne, and originally a monk of the Abbey of St. Denis. He had an audience in full consistory December 16th, and he spoke to the Pope in the following terms:
The most Christian King, our master, implores your assistance, most holy Father, or rather it is the entire people of the faithful who address to you these words of Scripture: ‘Be our leader and our prince.‘ Not that any one among us doubts that you have not the princedom in the Church; for we know that the state of the Church was constituted monarchical by Jesus Christ himself; but we ask you to be our prince by functions of zeal and by considerateness. We pray you to manage wisely the boat of St. Peter, in the midst of the tempests by which it is buffeted. The princes of the Church, most holy Father, ought not to resemble those of the nations. The latter have frequently no other rule of government than their own will; on the contrary, the princes of the Church ought to temper the use of their authority; and it is for that that the holy fathers have established laws and canons. Now, here is the source of the ills which afflict the Church. There are two extremes: one consists in exercising ecclesiastical authority as the princes of the nations exercise theirs, without rule and without measure; the other is the enterprise of those who, in order to correct its abuses, have desired to annihilate authority, who have denied that supreme power rests in the Church, who have given this power to the multitude, who have changed the entire ecclesiastical order in destroying the monarchy which God placed there, to substitute for it democracy or aristocracy, who have arrived, not only with respect to the leader but also with respect to doctrine, at the point of causing an execrable schism among the faithful.
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