• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why was the Catholic Church so weak by 1780?

Extracts from this document...


Why was the Catholic Church so weak by 1780? The Catholic Church emerging triumphant from the religious wars dominated the earlier part of the eighteenth century however by the end of the 18th century many argued it had become enfeebled due to a combination of internal divisions, rulers' desires for absolutism, nationalism and the popularity of the enlightenment. The age of external conflicts and religious wars was giving way, in this period to an era of toleration. De facto toleration was the principle in many Western European countries (for example in Frederick the Greats Prussia) and the less austere religion was losing its hold over Catholic Europe. The end of the religious wars meant that there was no longer any need to passionately defend Catholicism and no longer a desire to eradicate other religions. There was a greater degree of religious pluralism both within Catholicism and externally (i.e. the development of other religions such as Methodism in Britain) which undermined the power of the Catholic churches. Many of these concentrated on evangelising areas such as rural towns that had been left out of the Catholic revolution. The religious pluralism of the end of the 18th century caused fractures in the Catholic Church and undermined its position as the religion of the nation. The Catholic Church in this period became less aware of outside religious contentions and was increasingly consumed and divided by a bitter internal 1'doctrinal dispute' that was a large factor in it's eventual decline. ...read more.


Ruler's desires for absolutism were impeded by the church's traditional strong hold over the nation. Rulers such as Joseph I and Louis XV'S governments sought to undermine the churches' authoritative position in order to bolster theirs. When Louis XV's government found itself lacking funds following the expense of the war of Austrian Succession the church was a primary target and Louis began to challenge the Church's tax privileges although he did not follow through with them. Maria Theresa an Austrian monarch did, and imposed restrictions and controls on the Catholic Church. Reducing the wealth of the Catholic Church and its extensive lands meant that the money could be redirected towards the state and used for state purposes such as the reform of education. This impetus continued and accelerated by her son Joseph I who continued stripping the Catholic church of its privileges. From the mid 18th century the papacy and established religious orders were gradually being ignored by rulers and the state this Disengagement between the church and the state has been used as evidence for a decline in the importance of the Catholic Church. The two institutions were at this time competing agents each struggling to assert and further their autonomous position. The Catholic Church was thus no longer propped up by the state. Previously the state upheld the church to promote social order it Christianised civil ceremonies such as marriage and burials. ...read more.


rather than this representing a weak church by 1780 it can perhaps be said that the supposed processes of de-Christianisation was simply the a privatisation and personalisation of Catholicism in the late 18th century as opposed to the superficial practises of the Jesuits. The historian Doyle also points to the buoyancy of religion in rural France and also some Catholic states of Germany in the late 18th century. Religious practice in France therefore provides us with evidence of a decline alongside evidence of strong religious sentiment limiting the validity of any conclusions of this question. The Catholic Church was certainly weakened in its dominance and influence over Europe by 1780. The internal dispute which it suffered was perhaps the largest single factor in its decline however the combination of the other factors also helped to undermine its hegemonic position and compounded its relative weakness by 1780. 1 D. Beales The eighteenth century short Oxford dictionary of Europe pg. 139 2 W. Doyle The old European Order p 168 3 G. Rowlands Seminar f- Roman Catholicism 4 W.Doyle The old European Order p 168 5 Ward W Christianity under the Ancien Regime 1648-1789 p 188 6 M.S. Anderson Eighteenth Century in Europe 1713-1783 1967 7 W.Doyle 8 M.S Anderson Eighteenth Century Europe 1713-1783 chapter 15 pg 268 9 M.S Anderson Eighteenth Century Europe 1713-1783 chapter 15 pg 268 Denise Kusi- Europe in the age of enlightenment 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Places of Worship section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Places of Worship essays

  1. relgion becoming secular

    over the past fifty years. The debate lies in whether religion has become privatised- more people worship at home, therefore there is no need to attend church, or less people go to church today because they don't want to or are not religious.

  2. Critically evaluate the significance of Vatican II for the 21st Century Church

    In the 1950's and 1960's dependent capitalist structures developed throughout the Latin world and these led to popular movements demanding change that were in turn put down by political repression. As Boff says, 'there was a great stirring for change among the popular sections of society, a truly pre-revolutionary atmosphere.'

  1. The process whereby religion looses its influence over social life and society is known ...

    (Goldthorpe and Whelan, 1992: 269) The catholic churches uniformity was shattered when it emerged that Bishop Eammon Casey had a son. The medial highlighted that the church, which had so long insisted on confession was not able to confess to this.

  2. In this affair the agreements between science and religion are more numerous and above ...

    (Southgate 1999) A copy of the letter to Castelli was sent to the inquisition in Rome in 1615 by a Domincan Priest Father Nicolo Lorini who was annoyed at Galileo's arrogance in re-interpreting the scripture; this coincided with the arrival of another domincan priest Cancinni in Rome (uninvited)

  1. Ormskirk Parish Church - Question 3

    documentation tells us why the church has a tower and a spire rather than the usual one or the other). In conclusion, primary sources were very usual in question 2 and without them then the question would have been much harder and would

  2. Explain the importance of Henry's relationship with the Papacy in relation to other factors ...

    He also maintained the English church by setting an example for his people to follow and showing them that the English church followed the Roman Church. Humanism was a huge factor, which contributed to the maintenance of the stability of the church.

  1. The Churches struggle against apartheid and a comment on the effectiveness of this Challenge.

    At this meeting they council drew up the Freedom Charter. The Freedom Charter outlined the basic civil rights that every non-white person should be entitled to. It consisted of four main principles, which were: 1) Every man and woman should have the right to vote 2)

  2. No need for counseling in the Church

    Gary Rupp said in a paper he wrote, "The counseling ministry, however, is not limited to believers. Non-believers are looking for real solutions to life's demands also. For them, the counseling may become an entrance into spiritual awakening. No doubt some will wrestle and leave with little hope.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work