The Mutual Accusations of the Gentry and the Catholic Clergy in Connection with 'compositio inter status' in the 1630s
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The intention of the article is to present the motives of the 'anti–clericalism' of the Polish gentry, as a rule reduced to the so-called amortisation statues and 'compositio inter status'. Upon the basis of a record of a parliamentary discussion on the 'composition' between the secular and ecclesiastical estates in 1632-1635, found in an anonymous gentry silva, and an anti-dissident squib from 1639, the authoress analysed the accusations formulated by both sides and the manner of their argumentation. She concluded that the conflict raging between the gentry and the clergy was not limited to a controversy about tithes, and involving landowners and the rural clergy, but was of an ideological nature and pertained to a fundamental systemic principle of the Commonwealth: the subordination of all citizens to universal law. The 'anticlericalism' of the gentry was directed not only against the parish priests but primarily against the clerical aristocracy - the abbots, the episcopate, and the Jesuits. The division into the supporters and opponents of the 'compositio' did not coincide with religious criteria but with social ones: the lay and ecclesiastical magnates were against the 'composition', while its advocates included the lay gentry, the majority of the gentry of both creeds (Catholic and Protestant), and the parish clergy (naturally for quite different reasons). In 1632-1635 the inimical attitude of the middle-ranking Catholic clergy to a compromise solution of the 'composition' leads to the ultimate postulate of studying the charges made by the parish clergy against the gentry, conceived as an indispensable supplement of research into 'gentry anticlericalism'.
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