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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

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Regalia Petri
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(or REGALE), RIGHT OF, is the possession of certain privileges in ecclesiastical things. As the regalia Petri we distinguish the various rights and high prerogatives which, according to Romanists, belong to the pope as a kind of universal sovereign and king of kings. Under regale, however, is generally understood the right which sovereigns claim in virtue of their royal prerogative. The question as to the extent of these privileges has frequently been the subject of controversy between kings and popes. It involved several points as to presentation to benefices, most of which formed the object, from time to time, of negotiation by concordat; but the most serious conflict arose out of the claim made by the crown to the revenues of vacant benefices, especially bishoprics, and the co-ordinate claim to keep the benefice or the see vacant for an indefinite period, in order to appropriate its revenue. This plainly abusive claim was one of the main grounds of complaint on the part of the popes as to the practice of lay investiture (q.v.), and it reached its height in England under the first Norman kings, especially William Rufus. The most memorable conflict, however, on the subject of the regalia was that of Innocent XI (q.v.) with Louis XIV, which was maintained with great pertinacity on both sides for several years, the king extending the claim to some of the French provinces which had until then been exempt from it, and the pope refusing to confirm any of the appointments of Louis to the sees which became vacant as long as the obnoxious claim should be persisted in. The dispute continued till after the death of Innocent, Louis XIV having gone so far as to seize upon the papal territory of Avignon in reprisal; but it was adjusted in the following pontificate, the most obnoxious part of the claim being practically abandoned, although not formally withdrawn.

The contest grew out of the interpretation of French canon law which gives the right to the kings of France to enjoy the revenues of all bishoprics during their vacancy, and also to present to their prebends and all other their dignities without cure of souls. Such presentations might be made whether the dignity were vacant both dejure and de facto, as by death, or only either dejure, as if the incumbent were convicted of a crime or had accepted another dignity, or de facto, as if the regale should open after the presentation of an incumbent, but before he had taken possession. The regale lasted till a new admission to the bishopric was fully completed by taking the oath of allegiance, when a mandate was issued by the Chambre des Comptes to the commissary of the regale to restore the revenues. This right'had one or two singular privileges: it occurred not only on a vacancy, but also when a bishop was made a cardinal, and lasted till he repeated the oath of allegiance; it lasted thirty years as regarded patronage, so that if the king should leave a dignity vacant and the new bishop fill it up, the king might appoint a fresh incumbent at any time within this date; it was absolutely in the king's discretion, and subject to ino other constitutions whatever. The regale was at different times deprived of much of its original extent: certain bishoprics, as those of Languedoc, Provence, and Dauphine, claimed entire exemption; and though a decision of Parliament pronounced. at one time that the right extended over the whole kingdom, this was afterwards quashed, and the question remained undecided. Abbeys which were formerly subject to the regale were discharged, and an attempt to replace them under it quite failed. Finally all right to the revenues was resigned by Louis XIII and that of patronage was retained. See Commentaire de M. Dupuy sur le Traite des Libertes de M. Pithon, 1, 146. SEE SUPREMACY, PAPAL.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Regalia'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​r/regalia.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
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