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The Bishops

Cité épiscopale d’Albi

Until the French Revolution, the Bishops of Albi, promoted to Archbishops at the end of the 17th century, remained the rulers of Albi, important actors and sponsors of city life.

They were chosen by the king from noble families and were closely linked to the royal court. Their time in Albi was often just a stepping stone towards more illustrious roles.

Albi’s 17th century Bishops such as Daillon du Lude, and the Archbishops Serroni and Le Goux de la Berchère, followed in the sumptuous footsteps of Bernard de Castanet and Louis d’Amboise. They were succeeded in the 18th century by Choiseul-Stainville, brother of a minister to Louis XV and finally by the celebrated Cardinal de Bernis, minister to Louis XV before becoming Archbishop of Albi and ambassador to Rome.

Upon their arrival, the Bishops were received by the people of Albi with great pomp. The consuls offered gifts and granted them the keys to the city.

Now Archbishops, Choiseul and then Bernis played the role of intermediaries between Albi and the authorities and acted as intercessors for the King and his steward or for the States of the Languedoc in order to obtain advantages and subsidies.

In the 18th century the people of Albi declared themselves “the very humble, obedient, submissive and faithful vassals and servants” of their Archbishop.

These prelates are at once spiritual leaders and civic administrators of the diocese and major landowners of Albi, they presided over the ’Etats Albigeois’ (Albi estates) an assembly responsible for distributing the collected taxes. They also supported economic life, urban development and teaching.

The Bishops of Albi are to be credited for the foundation of the ’Hôpital général’ in 1689, the installation of the Jesuit College in 1623 and, in 1750, the arrival of the Christian Brothers who gave considerable impetus to primary education.

The Bishops disposed of the richest Epsicopal revenues in France, to which they could add their significant personal fortunes.

These wealthy Bishops, powerful and influential personalities, continued the tradition of the great patrons, introducing elements of Classicism to the Cathedral and the Berbie palace while opening up the city in general to new development.

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