Council of Tours

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In the medieval Roman Catholic church there were several Councils of Tours, that city being an old seat of Christianity, and considered fairly centrally located in France. Athenius, Bishop of Rennes, took part in the First Council of Tours in AD 461. The last to sign the canons was Mansuetus, episcopus Brittanorum ("bishop of the Britons" [in Armorica]).[1]

At the Second, in 567, it was decreed that a married bishop should treat his wife as a sister (canon XII). No priest or monk was to share his bed with someone else; and monks were not to have single or double cells, but were to have a common dormitory in which two or three were to take turns in staying awake and reading to the rest (canon XIV). If a monk married or had familiarity with a woman, he was to be excommunicated from the church until he returned penitent to the monastery enclosure and thereafter underwent a period of penance (canon XV). No woman was to be allowed to enter the monastery enclosure, and if anyone saw a woman enter and did not immediately expel her, he was to be excommunicated (canon XVI). Married priests, deacons and subdeacons should have their wives sleep together with the maidservants, while they themselves slept apart, and if anyone of them were found to be sleeping with his wife, he was to be excommunicated for a year and reduced to the lay state (canon XIX).[2]

A Council at Tours in 755 recommended that the calendar year begin at Easter.

A Council of Tours in 813 decided that priests should preach sermons in rusticam romanam linguam (rustic romance language) or Theodiscam (German),[3] a mention of Vulgar Latin understood by the people, as distinct from the classical Latin that the common people could no longer understand.[4] This was the first official recognition of an early French language distinct from Latin, and can be considered as the birth date of French.[5]

A Council at Tours in 1055 was occasioned by controversy regarding the nature of the Eucharist. It was presided over by the papal legate Hildebrand, later Pope Gregory VII. Berengar signed a profession of faith wherein he confessed that after consecration the bread and wine are truly the body and blood of Christ.

Subsequent councils reiterated and intensified the condemnation of the Cathars of southern France. A Council of Tours in 1163 under Pope Alexander III, ordering them to be deprived of their goods, whetted northern French appetites for an Albigensian Crusade. The first use of the expression "Albigenses" is said to be in connection with the council.

See also


  1. "He subscribed last of the eight bishops, suggesting either that he had been recently ordained or that he was considered junior to the bishops of cities". (Ralph W. Mathisen, "Barbarian Bishops and the Churches "in Barbaricis Gentibus" During Late Antiquity" Speculum 72 No. 3 [July 1997:664-697] p 667 note 21.
  2. Jean Hardouin, Philippe Labbé, Gabriel Cossart (editors), Acta Conciliorum et Epistolae Decretales (Typographia Regia, Paris, 1714), coll. 355–368
  3. rusticam Romanam linguam aut Theodiscam, quo facilius cuncti possint intellegere quae dicuntur in simple Roman language or in German, that everyone may more easily understand what is being said
  4. Nadeau, Jean-Benoît and Barlow, Julie, The Story of French (Alfred A. Knopf 2006), page 25
  5. (French) Michèle PERRET, Introduction à l'histoire de la langue française, 3d ed. (Armand Colin 2008), page 36