Item #3924 [SUPPRESSION OF THE JESUITS IN FRANCE 1761-1764]. authors.
Suppressing Jesuits: a Sammelband of 30 scarce tracts, several of which instruct "Lacerating" and Burning Jesuit Books


Paris, Grenoble, and elsewhere: 1761-1764. Contemporary mottled calf; spine tooled in gold; red edges; marbled endpapers. The first Grenoble imprint lacking the first leaf (half-title?); both Grenoble imprints cropped close, just shaving some text; occasional light foxing. Text block splitting from the bottom between two of the pamphlets, roughly two-thirds into the volume. Modern armorial bookplate on the front paste-down. Later, perhaps early 20th-century, handwritten table of contents tipped in at front. An attractive Sammelband, suitable for exhibition and study. Very good. Item #3924


The earliest documents, beginning in 1761 and running into 1762, demonstrate the French government's early steps toward suppression. Many of these edicts demand copies of the order's Constitutions for inspection. Of course it's clear the authorities had already made up their minds, evidenced, too, by their numerous judgments against Jesuit books (which appear to have provided abundant bonfire fuel in palace courtyards across the country). We find plenty of references to the Jesuits being kicked out of their homes, the confiscation of their property, and much on the closure of their schools and plans for their continued operation under state-sponsored control. The penultimate document in our volume is the French king's final blow to the Jesuit order, followed by a final edict outlining conditions of Jesuit resettlement in France. If you're expecting sanitized administrative legalese from these documents, the amount of invective, animosity, and hatred may surprise you. Endless referrals to the "so-called Jesuits" underscore a perception that the order must hardly be aligned with the teachings of Jesus. Grievance-laden dressing-downs are ubiquitous. The devastation to Jesuit lives seen here was enormous. Our brief commentaries above merely scratch the surface of what these contain.

¶ The suppression of the Jesuits was a global phenomenon that began with their expulsion from Portuguese territories in 1759. From there, it spread not simply through the European continent, but through its countries' vast overseas empires. The final blow landed with a papal decree of 21 July 1773, though the Jesuits found some sympathetic European pockets where they managed to continue their mission. The order's official restoration was enabled by a papal decree in 1814, from which the Jesuits eventually regained their European footing.

¶ The depths of blame for Jesuit suppression has been endlessly plumbed by scholars. The Enlightenment is an oft cited factor, as was fear of outsize political influence from Rome, and royal desires to seize control of Jesuit revenue sources. "Whichever way one analyses the surviving evidence, any attempt to provide a single, all-embracing explanation of the destruction and ultimate suppression of the Society is fruitless: there was a whole host of reasons, which curiously coalesced into a wider international phenomenon" (Whitehead).

¶ In France, groundwork for Jesuit antipathy had been laid by a deep, long-standing theological tension between them and the Jansenists. But everything came to a head with the well intentioned but ill advised trade dealings of one Father Lavalette in Martinique. In trying to improve the condition of his overseas community, he found himself hopelessly indebted to French creditors. The Jesuits tried to cover the debts themselves, but eventually found themselves in French courts. A Jesuit appeal to the French parlement, stacked with individuals not favorably disposed to them, was a fatal mistake. "The protracted court proceedings lasted from April to August 1761 and were to prove immensely damaging for the Jesuits, as the Society's Institute was examined and ultimately denounced. During the winter of 1761 and the spring of 1762, the parlement of Paris and the fifteen provincial parlements of France deliberated independently on how to deal with the future of the Jesuits within their respective jurisdictions." (This decentralized approach to their suppression is vital context for the broad geographic coverage of the volume here.) "Enormous power struggles took place in various parlements, but the detailed debates of their members were rendered largely irrelevant when, on 1 April 1762, the parlement of Paris, having found against the Society of Jesus, forced the Jesuits to leave the thirty-eight colleges within its jurisdiction" (Whitehead). Some provincial parlements continued to shelter the Jesuits—Artois, for example, from which we have a 1762 decree here—but Louis XV's edict of November 1764 ordered the Society's complete dissolution.

¶ The unusually broad geographic coverage of the volume is impressive. While eleven tracts were printed in Paris, nineteen (!) come from ten different provincial cities, the latter often broadcasting the same language, the same grievances, and the same judgments as those issued from Paris. Even the spine title hints at the variety of origins: Arrets de div[ers] par[ts] Jesuites. The collection is a telling witness to how demotic anger towards the Jesuits developed into an official campaign of suppression in France.


1. Declaration du roi, qui ordonne que, dans six mois pour tout délai, les supérieurs de chacune des maisons de la Société des Jésuites seront tenus de remettre au greffe du conseil les titres de leurs établissements en France; donné a Versailles le 2 août 1761 — Paris: Pierre-Guillaume Simon, 1761 — 8 p.
2. Arrest de la cour du parlement, extrait des registres du parlement, du 6 août 1761 — Paris: Pierre-Guillaume Simon, 1761 — 16 p. — Opening in part, "that the said priests and scholars of the said society [Jesuits] will be required to deliver within three days, to the clerk of the said court, a printed copy of the Constitutions of the said society."
3. Arrêt de la cour de parlement du 6 août 1761 — Paris: Pierre-Guillaume Simon, 1761 — 12 p. — On the state examination of Jesuit literature. Includes a lengthy list of controversial Jesuit books, with Claude Lacroix's expansion of Hermann Busenbaum's Theologia Moralis singled out: "They will be lacerated and burned in the courtyard of the palace" (p. 7).
4. Arrest de la cour de parlement du trois septembre 1761 — Paris: Pierre-Guillaume Simon, 1761 — 16 p. — Concerns the inspection of Jesuit books, noting that Orazio Torsellini's "Historiae sacrae & profanae epitome" is also to be lacerated and burned in the palace courtyard (p. 6).
5. Arreté du p. de Paris 26 mars 1762 — Manuscript copy of the printed text — [2] pp. + 2 (mostly) blank pp. — More on Jesuit suppression.
6. Extrait des registres du parlement du 30 avril 1762 — Paris: Pierre-Guillaume Simon, 1762 — 11, [1] p. — On the seizure of Jesuit property.
7. Arrest de la cour de parlement — Paris: Pierre-Guillaume Simon, 1762 — 105, [1] p. — An extensive overview of Jesuit sins against the state, including "dangerous and pernicious assertions of all kinds, which the so-called Jesuits have at all times and perseveringly held, taught, and published in their books" (p. 16).
8. Arrest de la cour de parlement, extrait des régistres du parlement du six août 1762 — Paris: Pierre-Guillaume Simon, 1762 — 16 p. — In part "concerning the keeping of schools and colleges by others than the aforementioned so-called Jesuits" (p. 1).
9. Arrêt du parlement de Toulouse au sujet des Jésuites, extrait des registres du parlement du 5 juin 1762 — Toulouse: Nicolas Caranove, [1762?] — 24 p. — Like many others, opening with the requirement that the Jesuits are to provide a copy of their Constitutions to the court within three days.
10. Arrest de la cour de parlement, qui juge l'apel comme d'abus [...], de l'institut de la Société se disant de Jesus; fait défenses aux soi-disant Jésuites & à tous autres de porter l'habit de la lite société; de vivre sous les loix de l'institut de ladite Société; d'entretenir aucune correspondance directe our indirecte avec le général & supérieure de ladite société [...] enjoint aux soi-disans Jésuites de vuider les maisons de ladite société dans quinzaine, &c, du 26 février 1763 — Toulouse: Widow of Bernard Pijon, [1763?] — 12 p. — Omitted from the above (lengthy) title is reference to the multiple the passages on the burning of Jesuit books deemed seditious and contrary to good Christian values (p. 2).
11. Arrêt du parlement de Rouen, rendu toutes les chambres assemblées, du vendredi 12 février 1762 — Rouen: Jacques-Joseph Le Boullenger, [1762?] — 24 p. — Again demanding a copy of the Jesuits' constitution for inspection, and again with a list of Jesuit books to be lacerated and burned in the palace courtyard (p. 19-24).
12. Arrest du parlement de Rouen, du samedi 27 mars 1762 — Rouen: Jacques-Joseph Le Boullenger, [1762?] — 7, [1] p. — Remarks "that there is no way to reform a society that is essentially irreformable, which counts among its strange privileges, stated in its Constitutions, that of being independent in its way of being" (p. 3-4).
13. Arrêt definitif du parlement de Rouen contre les ci-devant soi-disans Jésuites du 21 juin 1762 — Rouen: Jacques-Joseph Le Boullenger, [1762?] — 19, [1] p. — Referencing any government assistance the Jesuits might or might now receive.
14. Arrest et arretés de la cour de parlement, seant a Rouen, pour l'exécution des arrêts des 12 février, 21 & 28 juin 1762 — Rouen: Jacques-Joseph Le Boullenger, 1762 — 31, [1] p. — On a letter sent by M. Plesse, a Jesuit college official in Caen, to the French authorities, apparently in response to their indictment.
15. Arrêt du parlement de Rouen, qui ordonne que dans un mois, à compter du jour de la publication du présent arrêt, tous les prêtres & ecoliers de la ci-devant société, qui se disoit de Jesus, seront tenus de sortir du royaume, à peine d'être poursuivis extraordinairement, si ce n'est qu'ils justifiassent avoir quitté ladite ci-devant société avant le douze février mil sept cent soixante-deux, &c.; extrait des registres de la cour, du 22 mars 1764 — [Rouen]: Jacques-Joseph Le Boullenger, 1764 — 7, [1] p. — Declaring that all Jesuits who do not renounce the Society before 12 February 1762 "will be required to leave the kingdom."
16. Arrest du parlement de Bretagne, qui juge l'appel comme d'abus interjetté par Monsieur le Procureur Général du Roi, des brefs, bulles, constitutions, &c. concernant les sui-disans Jésuites; extrait des registres du parlement du 27 mai 1762 — Rennes: Guillaume Vatar, [1762?] — 24 p. — Requesting a copy of the Jesuit Constitutions from its college at Rennes, plus more on the Jesuit college there.
17. Extrait des registres séant a Bordeaux du 8 mars 1762 — [Bordeaux, 1762?] — 7, [1] p. — Raises the question: "Does the Jesuit institution tend by its privileges to make this society independent of all spiritual and temporal authority, such as it may be? Have the views of dangerous politics taken, in this institution and this regime, the place of those of religion?" A copy of the Jesuit Constitution is again requested.
18. Arrêt de parlement de Bordeaux, qui reçoit le Procureur-Général apellant comme d'abus de la Bulle Regimini, déclare le régime & l'institut de la société des soi-disans Jésuites, attentatoire à toute autorité spirituelle temporelle & incompatible avec les principes & les regles de tout etat policé; & les voeux & faits par lesdits soi-disans Jésuites, abusifs téméraires & inconsiderés; fait défense à tous sujets du roi de vivre déformais sous l'empire desdites régles; ordonne qu'au premier août prochain les soi-disans Jésuites vuideront toutes les maisons, collèges & noviciats du ressort de la cour dudit parlement; & que lesd. prêtres & ecoliers soi-disans actuellement Jésuites, ne pourront être admis à aucun bénefice, aucunes charges civiles, sans au préalable avoir prêté serment devant un juge royal d'être fidèles au roi, de tenir & enseigner les quatre propositions du clergé de France de 1682; & ordonne la saisie & sequestration des biens de ladite société, &c.; du 26 mai 1762 — Bordeaux: Jean-Baptiste Lacornée, [1762?] — 22 p. — The title summarizes the state's grievances against the Jesuits (e.g., "incompatible with the principles and the rules of any policed state") and the hardships facing them during their suppression (e.g., "priests and students who are currently called Jesuits cannot be admitted to any benefice or civil office without first having taken an oath before a royal judge to be faithful to the king").
19. Réquisitoire de M. le procureur-général du parlement de Metz, au sujet des soi-disans Jésuites — Metz: Joseph Collignon, [1762?] — 28 p. — More on the Jesuit Constitutions. "The court has no doubt already seen with astonishment the horrible fabric of this body of Constitutions, a monstrous work in all its content, and which presents a society that one sees at birth humiliate itself" (p. 2).
20. Arrêt du parlement de Dijon contre les soi-disans Jésuites du 11 juillet 1763 — Dijon: Chez Causse, 1763 — 12 p. — Again declaring everything about the Society of Jesus incompatible with the French state. "The said court orders that on the first of next October, the aforementioned Jesuits remaining within the jurisdiction of the court will empty each and every one of the houses, colleges, residences, or other establishments which they occupy, in order to withdraw to such places of the kingdom as they see fit, other nevertheless than colleges, seminaries, or any other house intended for the instruction and education of youth" (p. 3).
21. Avis dans l'affaire des Jesuites, d'un conseiller du parlement seant en Bourgogne, depuis la réunion à la couronne de cette ancienne pairie; du 11 juillet 1763 — [Burgundy, 1763?] — 42, [2] p. (last leaf blank) — A comprehensive account of the state's grievances against the Jesuits.
22. Arrêté du conseil souverain de Roussillon, au sujet de l'edit du roit donné à Versailles au mois de mars 1762, tendant à modifier l'institut des Jésuites & à fixer leur état, s'il étoit possible; du 17 mars 1762 — [Roussillon, 1762?] — 3, [1] p. — Demanding copies of the Jesuits' Constitutions and all other regulatory documents.
23. Arret du conseil souverain de Roussillon, qui ordonne à tous les soi-disans Jésuites du ressort de la cour, de sortir & vuider toutes leurs maisons dans huitaine, &c.; extrait des registres de la cour, du 12 juin 1762 — Perpignan: J.B. Reynier, [1762?] — 28 p. — Demanding the expulsion of Jesuits from their homes.
24. Arrest du conseil provincial et superieur d'Artois du 5 avril 1762 — [Artois or Roussillon? 1762?] — 8 p. — Addressing the fate of Jesuit schools, among other topics.
25. Arrest du parlement de Dauphiné, rendu toutes les chambres assemblées, le 21 mars 1763; extrait des registres du parlement — Grenoble: André Giroud, 1763 — 12 p. — An exposition of the state's problems with the Jesuits and the fate that now awaits the Society, including "seizure of all the goods, furniture, and buildings possessed by the said Jesuits" as well as "all the incomes and other annual products of the said houses" (p. 11).
26. Arrest du parlement de Dauphiné, du 29 août 1763, qui juge l'appel comme d'abus interjetté par M. le procureur général, des bulles, brefs, constitutions & autres réglements de la Société de Jesus; fait défenses aux Jesuites & à tous autres, de porter l'habit de ladite société, de vivre sous l'obéissance au général & aux constitutions de ladite société, & d'entretenir aucune correspondance directe ou indirected avec le général & les supérieurs de cette société ou autres par eux préposès; enjoint auxdits Jesuites de vuider les maisons de ladite société; leur fait défenses de vivre en commun; réservant d'accorder à chacun d'eux les pensions alimentaires nécessaires; comme aussi ordonne à tous ceux desdits Jesuites, nés sous une domination étrangere, de sortir du royaume au premier octobre prochain, &c. &c. &c.; extrait des registres du parlement — Grenoble: André Giroud, 1763 — 23, [1] p. — "Enjoins the said Jesuits to empty the houses of the said society, forbids them to live in common," &c. &c.
27. Arrest de la cour de parlement de Provence, concernant les ci-devant Jésuites qui se trouvent dans le ressort; du 18 janvier 1764 — [Aix-en-Provence? 1764?] — 16 p. — "Such, gentlemen, is the picture of this society, which regards itself as dispersed rather than dissolved, which claims to be persecuted and in not at all destroyed. The conduct of its children is consistent with their condition, with their known character, and with the spirit of their institution; each Jesuit who had some respect in his order reigns today in a circle of which he is the center" (p. 4).
28. Arrest de la cour de parlement, du 9 mars 1764 — Paris: Pierre-Guillaume Simon, 1764 — 8 p. — More on the burning of Jesuit books, not only for their seditious and morally destructive character, but also for "teaching a murderous and abominable doctrine, not only against the safety of the life of the citizens, but even against sacred persons of the sovereigns" (p. 4).
29. Edit du roi concernant la Société des Jésuites, donné à Versailles au mois de novembre 1764 — [Paris? 1764?] — 2 p. — Louis XV's final dissolution of the Jesuit order in France and the conditions for those who would remain.
30. Extrait des registres du parlement, du premier décembre 1764 — Paris: Pierre-Guillaume Simon, 1764 — 3, [1] p. — Concerning the resettlement of the Jesuits, ordering that they "will be required to reside in the diocese of their birth, and nevetheless will not be able to approach the city of Paris closer than ten leagues" (p. 1).

CATALOGUER'S NOTE: We are grateful to Patrick Olsen for his detailed analysis of the present Sammelband.

References: Maurice Whitehead, "From Expulsion to Restoration: The Jesuits in Crisis, 1759-1814," Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review (103.412 (Winter 2014/2015), p. 448, 454; Dorinda Outram, The Enlightenment (Cambridge University, 2019), p. 36 ("Jansenist concerns about returning to the simplicities of the early church fitted well with the concerns of governments struggling to diminish the power of the Catholic Church within their own dominion, as is shown by the universal attack on the Jesuit order from 1759").

Price: $3,500.00

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