droit de regale

(French: law of royal prerogative)

A right claimed, during the Middle Ages, by many sovereigns in France, England, and Germany, to collect the revenues of vacant episcopal sees (Temporal Regale), and to appoint nominees to the benefices, even, at least in France, to those to which the care of souls was attached (Spiritual Regale). In 1673 King Louis XIV pretended to extend the right to those French dioceses in which it was as yet unknown. Only two bishops, Pavillon of Alet and Caulet of Pamiers, both Jansenists, protested. They were sustained by Pope Innocent XI, who wrote three letters to the king, but in vain. However, in 1682 the king consented to share the right of Spiritual Regale with the administrators of the vacant sees, who were to give the canonical investiture to the nominees of his choice; but at the same time he convoked the assembly of the clergy which endorsed his views. Innocent XI condemned the Regale once more, as did Pope Alexander VIII, and Pope Innocent XII, but to no avail; and the practise continued until the French Revolution. The efforts of Napoleon I to revive it were frustrated by his own downfall.

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