Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Gobel

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Jean-Baptiste Gobel (1727-1794) Jean-Baptiste Gobel (1727-1794).jpg
Jean-Baptiste Gobel (1727-1794)

Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Gobel (1 September 1727 13 April 1794) was a French Catholic cleric and politician of the Revolution. He was executed during the Reign of Terror.

Catholic Church Christian church led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's "oldest continuously functioning international institution", it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

French Revolution social and political revolution in France and its colonies occurring from 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

Reign of Terror period during the french revolution

The Reign of Terror, or The Terror, refers to a period during the French Revolution after the First French Republic was established.



Gobel was born in the town of Thann in Alsace to a lawyer to the Sovereign Council of Alsace and tax collector for the Seigneury of Thann. After outstanding success in his early schooling in Porrentruy, he studied at the Jesuit college in Colmar, then theology in the German College in Rome, from which he graduated in 1743.

Thann, Haut-Rhin Subprefecture and commune in Grand Est, France

Thann is a commune in the northeastern French department of Haut-Rhin, in Grand Est. It is the sous-préfecture of the arrondissement of Thann-Guebwiller and part of the canton of Cernay. Its inhabitants are known as Thannois.

Alsace Place in Grand Est, France

Alsace is a cultural and historical region in eastern France, on the west bank of the upper Rhine next to Germany and Switzerland.

Porrentruy Place in Jura, Switzerland

Porrentruy is a Swiss municipality and seat of the district of the same name located in the canton of Jura.

Clerical career

Gobel was ordained a Catholic priest in 1750 and then became a member of the cathedral chapter of the Prince-Bishop of Basel, Simon Nikolaus Euseb von Montjoye-Hirsingen, based in Porrentruy, In 1771 he was appointed the auxiliary bishop of the diocese for the section that was situated in French territory, being named by the Holy See as a titular bishop in partibus of Lydda. He consecrated the next Prince-Bishop, Friedrich Ludwig Franz von Wangen zu Geroldseck, on 3 March 1776. [1] Found to have been living beyond his means, he was relieved of his duties by Wangen zu Geroldseck's successor, Franz Joseph Sigismund von Roggenbach, in 1782. After this he began to espouse "reformist" ideas. His political life began when he was elected deputy to the Estates-General of 1789 by the clergy of the Bailiwick of Huningue.

According to both Anglican and Catholic canon law, a cathedral chapter is a college of clerics (chapter) formed to advise a bishop and, in the case of a vacancy of the episcopal see in some countries, to govern the diocese during the vacancy. These chapters are made up of canons and other officers, while in the Church of England chapters now includes a number of lay appointees; in the Roman Catholic Church their creation is the purview of the pope. They can be "numbered", in which case they are provided with a fixed "prebend", or "unnumbered", in which case the bishop indicates the number of canons according to the rents. In some Church of England cathedrals there are two such bodies, the lesser and greater chapters, which have different functions. The smaller body usually consists of the residentiary members and is included in the larger one.

Prince-Bishopric of Basel principality

The Prince-Bishopric of Basel was an ecclesiastical principality within the Holy Roman Empire, ruled from 1032 by Prince-Bishops with their seat at Basel, and from 1528 until 1792 at Porrentruy, and thereafter at Schliengen. The final dissolution of the state occurred in 1803 as part of the German Mediatisation.

Simon Nikolaus Euseb Reichsgraf von Montjoye-Hirsingen (1693–1775) was the Prince-Bishop of Basel from 1762 to 1775.

The turning-point of his life was Gobel's action in taking the oath of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy (3 January 1791), in favour of which he had declared himself since 5 May 1790. The document gave the appointment of priests to the electoral assemblies, and, after taking the oath, Gobel had become so popular that he was elected constitutional bishop in several dioceses. He chose the Archbishopric of Paris, and in spite of the difficulties which he had to encounter before he could enter into possession, he took up office on 17 March 1791 [2] and was consecrated on 27 March by eight bishops, including Charles Maurice de Talleyrand. This action was rejected by the Holy See, [3] which has never recognized him as a legitimate holder of the office, and continues to hold the canonical archbishop, Antoine-Eléonore-Léon Le Clerc de Juigné, as the legitimate Archbishop of Paris during that period. [4]

Civil Constitution of the Clergy

The Civil Constitution of the Clergy was a law passed on 12 July 1790 during the French Revolution, that caused the immediate subordination of the Catholic Church in France to the French government.

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord French diplomat

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, 1st Prince of Benevento, then 1st Prince of Talleyrand, was a French politician and diplomat. After theology studies, he became in 1780 Agent-General of the Clergy and represented the Catholic Church to the French Crown. He worked at the highest levels of successive French governments, most commonly as foreign minister or in some other diplomatic capacity. His career spanned the regimes of Louis XVI, the years of the French Revolution, Napoleon, Louis XVIII, and Louis-Philippe. Those he served often distrusted Talleyrand but, like Napoleon, found him extremely useful. The name "Talleyrand" has become a byword for crafty, cynical diplomacy.

Holy See episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy

The Holy See, also called the See of Rome, is the apostolic episcopal see of the bishop of Rome, known as the Pope, ex cathedra the universal ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the worldwide Catholic Church, and a sovereign entity of international law. Founded in the 1st century by Saints Peter and Paul, by virtue of Petrine and Papal primacy according to Catholic tradition, it is the focal point of full communion for Catholic bishops and Catholics around the world organised in polities of the Latin Church, the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches, and their dioceses and religious institutes.


On 8 November 1792, Gobel was appointed administrator of Paris. His public display of anti-clericalism was most likely a careful tactic to ensure the sympathy of politicians: among other things, he declared himself opposed to clerical celibacy. On the 17th Brumaire in the year II (7 November 1793), [5] he came before the bar of the National Convention for his activities as civil commissioner in Porrentruy, and, in a famous scene, resigned his episcopal functions, proclaiming that he did so for love of the people, and through respect for their wishes. The previous night, a delegation from the Commune led by Hébert, Chaumette and Cloots had demanded that he publicly renounce his faith or be put to death by the people. [6] [7]

Anti-clericalism is opposition to religious authority, typically in social or political matters. Historical anti-clericalism has mainly been opposed to the influence of Roman Catholicism. Anti-clericalism is related to secularism, which seeks to remove the church from all aspects of public and political life, and its involvement in the everyday life of the citizen.

Clerical celibacy is the requirement in certain religions that some or all members of the clergy be unmarried. These religions consider that, outside of marriage, deliberately indulging in lustful thoughts and behavior is sinful; clerical celibacy also requires abstention from these.

National Convention single-chamber assembly in France from 21 September 1792 to 26 October 1795

The National Convention was the first government of the French Revolution, following the two-year National Constituent Assembly and the one-year Legislative Assembly. Created after the great insurrection of 10 August 1792, it was the first French government organized as a republic, abandoning the monarchy altogether. The Convention sat as a single-chamber assembly from 20 September 1792 to 26 October 1795.

The followers of Jacques Hébert, who were then pursuing their anti-Christian policy, claimed Gobel as their representative. At the same time, Hébert's rival Maximilien Robespierre viewed Gobel as an atheist - although he was not accused of apostasy, and never publicly professed atheism.

Jacques Hébert 1757-1794 French journalist and politician

Jacques René Hébert was a French journalist, and the founder and editor of the extreme radical newspaper Le Père Duchesne during the French Revolution. He was a leader of the French Revolution and had thousands of followers as the Hébertists ; he himself is sometimes called Père Duchesne, after his newspaper.

Maximilien Robespierre French revolutionary lawyer and politician

Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre was a French lawyer and politician, as well as one of the best known and most influential figures associated with the French Revolution. As a member of the Constituent Assembly, the National Convention and the Jacobin Club, Robespierre was an outspoken advocate for the citizens without a voice, for their unrestricted admission to the National Guard, to public offices, and for the right to petition. He campaigned for universal manhood suffrage, abolition of celibacy, religious tolerance and the abolition of slavery in the French colonies. Robespierre played an important role after the Storming of the Tuileries, which led to the establishment of the First French Republic on 22 September 1792.

Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.

Robespierre's vision of a deist Cult of the Supreme Being was threatened by the opposition of atheist Hébertists (see Cult of Reason ), and Gobel shared the fate of the latter. Imprisoned, he was found guilty of the so-called 'Luxembourg prison plot' together with Chaumette, Lucile Desmoulins, wife of the recently executed Camille Desmoulins, Françoise Hebert, wife of the recently executed Hébert, and an assortment of other prisoners of various types. [8] All of the alleged conspirators were sentenced to death on the morning of 13 April and guillotined that same afternoon.


  1. "Bishop Friedrich Ludwig Franz von Wangen zu Geroldseck". . David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  2. Chronicle of the French Revolution, Longman 1989 p.202
  3. Chronicle of the French Revolution, Longman 1989 p.206
  4. "Archbishop Antoine-Eléonore-Léon Le Clerc de Juigné". . David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  5. Citizens, Simon Schama, Penguin 1989 p.778
  6. Chronicle of the French Revolution, Longman 1989 p.381
  7. Citizens, Simon Schama, Penguin 1989 p.778
  8. Chronicle of the French Revolution, Longman 1989, p.416-417

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Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Antoine-Eléonore-Léon Le Clerc de Juigné (Vatican-recognized Archbishop until 1802)
Constitutional Archbishop of Paris
Succeeded by
Abolished under the First French Republic
Restored 1802: Jean-Baptiste de Belloy