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The functions of the palais du Tau

From the 5th to the 20th century, the palais du Tau in Reims was both an archiepiscopal palace and a seigneurial palace.

Archiepiscopal palace

The palais du Tau is the residence of the archbishop and his administration, such as the chancellery and the officialdom.

What functions do these people perform?

  • The archbishop is the head of an ecclesiastical province. In the Middle Ages, he was not only a pastor, but also a "doctor". Under the Ancien Régime, the Church had exclusive responsibility for teaching.
  • The chancellor was immediately answerable to the archbishop, for whom he was, in a way, the "keeper of the seals". 
    According to the Code of Canon Law (c. 482), the Chancellor's primary administrative function is to ensure that the acts of the archbishop or bishop (decrees, ordinances, appointments, ordinations, etc., which the Chancellor countersigns) are drawn up (in legal form), signed, dispatched and kept in the curia's archives.
  • The Officiality is also known as the "episcopal tribunal". The archbishop is responsible for administering justice in his diocese, ensuring compliance with universal canon law and enacting norms in conformity with it.
Détail d'une chasuble (XVIIè siècle) : Jésus Christ au cœur d'une croix

© Benjamin Gavaudo / Centre des monuments nationaux

Seigniorial palace

Not just anyone can live in the palais du Tau!

Since Merovingian times, the privilege of immunity has shielded the domains of the Church of Reims from intervention by royal agents in fiscal, judicial and military matters.

The Archbishop of Rheims thus had "officers" who levied taxes. They also dispensed justice and, on behalf of the king, assembled the militia for the ost, the army summoned by the lord.

From the end of the 12th century, the archbishop of Reims bore the title of duke and first peer of France, when twelve great lords of the kingdom, both secular and ecclesiastical, were appointed.
A member of the high nobility, he was a great vassal of the Crown of France.

Tableau de Pierre Mignard (1691) : "Charles Maurice Le tellier"

© Reproduction Hervé Lewandowski / Centre des monuments nationaux

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