1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Beaumont, Christophe de

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BEAUMONT, CHRISTOPHE DE (1703-1781), French ecclesiastic and archbishop of Paris, was a cadet of the Les Adrets and Saint-Quentin branch of the illustrious Dauphiné family of Beaumont. He became bishop of Bayonne in 1741, then archbishop of Vienne in 1743, and in 1746, at the age of forty-three, archbishop of Paris. Beaumont is noted for his struggle with the Jansenists. To force them to accept the bull Unigenitus which condemned their doctrines, he ordered the priests of his diocese to refuse absolution to those who would not recognize the bull, and to deny funeral rites to those who had confessed to a Jansenist priest. While other bishops sent Beaumont their adhesion to his crusade, the parlement of Paris threatened to confiscate his temporalities. The king forbade the parlement to interfere in these spiritual questions, and upon its proving obdurate it was exiled (September 18, 1753). The “royal chamber,” which was substituted, having failed to carry on the administration of justice properly, the king was obliged to recall the parlement, and the archbishop was sent into honourable exile (August 1754). An effort was made to induce him to resign the active duties of his see to a coadjutor, but in spite of the most tempting offers — including a cardinal's hat — he refused. On the contrary, to his polemic against the Jansenists he added an attack on the philosophes, and issued a formal mandatory letter condemning Rousseau's Émile. Rousseau replied in his masterly Lettre à M. de Beaumont (1762), in which he insists that freedom of discussion in religious matters is essentially more religious than the attempt to impose belief by force.

De Beaumont's Mandements, lettres et instructions pastorales were published in two volumes in 1780, the year before his death.