Historical Examples of the Secular Authority Exercising Domination over the Religious Authority in the State

The rise of the monarchy or other strong central secular authority has one of the hallmarks of the development of the strong nation-unit.  As this occurred, the secular rulers were not satisfied with secular control only; rather, they wanted to ensure that the power base represented by the Church would also be subservient to their control, or even, under their direct control through a consolidation of the Church into the State machinery.  This of course led to the suppression of individual freedom of religious practice and belief.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  It is from this point of view that we shall most intelligently understand the attempt of the Tudors and the Stuarts to impose both monarchical authority and religious uniformity on the people and seize the real sense of the religious wars in France, the Catholic monarchical rule in Spain with its atrocious method of the Inquisition and the oppressive will of the absolute Czars in Russia to impose also an absolute national Church. …  Elsewhere it succeeded in both Protestant and Catholic countries, or in the rare cases as in Poland where this movement could not take place or failed, the result was disastrous.  Certainly, it was everywhere an outrage on the human soul, but it was not merely due to any natural wickedness of the rulers; it was an inevitable stage in the formation of the nation-unit by political and mechanical means.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part One, Chapter 13, The Formation of the Nation-Unit — The Three Stages, pp. 110-111

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