During the French Revolution, a constitutional bishop was a Roman Catholic bishop elected from among the clergy who had sworn to uphold the Civil Constitution of the Clergy between 1791 and 1801. Constitutional bishops were often priests with less or more moderate Gallican and partisan ideas, of a less or moderate nature. They were elected locally by the same body of electors that elected the députés of the future Legislative Assembly. They organised national councils in 1797 and 1801 to mark their independence from the pope, who usually called such councils. On the signature of the 1801 concordat, pope Pius VII and Napoleon I of France both demanded that the constitutional bishops and the remaining Ancien Régime bishops who had not sworn to uphold the Civil Constitution all resign their episcopal seats so that new holders could be appointed to the sees. 15 constitutional bishops refused to resign, feeling that their election to their episcopal seats were still valid (one such bishop, Henri Grégoire, signed himself as bishop of Loir-et-Cher right up until his death).
Selected constitutional bishops
It is notable that a constitutional bishop's diocese was not named after his cathedra or episcopal seat (as was previous practise) but after the department corresponding to his diocese, following the re-drawing of the diocesan boundaries according to the department boundaries created in 1790.
- Yves Marie Audrein, bishop of Finistère
- Jean-Baptiste-Luc Bailly, bishop of Poitiers
- Louis Belmas, bishop of Aude
- Claude Debertier, bishop of Aveyron
- Jean-Baptiste Demandre, bishop of Doubs
- Charles-François Dorlodot, bishop of Mayenne
- Louis-Alexandre Expilly de la Poipe, bishop of Finistère, the first constitutional bishop to be elected
- Claude Fauchet (revolutionist), bishop of Calvados
- Léonard Honoré Gay de Vernon, bishop of Haute-Vienne
- Jean-Baptiste Gobel, bishop of Paris
- Henri Grégoire, bishop of Loir-et-Cher, better known as abbé Grégoire
- Marc-Antoine Huguet (1757-1796), bishop of Creuse (executed by firing squad on 124 Fructidor, year 4)
- Louis Jarente de Sénac d'Orgeval, bishop of Loiret
- Antoine-Adrien Lamourette, bishop of Rhône-et-Loire (Lyon)
- Jean-Claude Leblanc de Beaulieu, bishop of Rouen
- René Lecesve, bishop of Poitiers.
- Claude Le Coz, bishop of Ille-et-Vilaine
- Jean-Baptiste Massieu, bishop of Oise
- Charles II Montault-Désilles, bishop of Maine et Loire (Angers)
- Hugues Pelletier, bishop of Maine et Loire (Angers)
- Michel-Joseph de Pidoll, bishop of Sarthe
- Pierre Pontard, bishop of Dordogne
- François-Ambroise Rodrigue, bishop of Vendée
- Barthélémy-Jean-Baptiste Sanadon, bishop of Basses-Pyrénées
- Jean-Baptiste Pierre Saurine, bishop of Landes
- Noël-Gabriel-Luce Villar, bishop of Mayenne
- (French) Rodney J. Dean, L'Église constitutionnelle, Napoléon et le Concordat de 1801, Paris, Picard, 2004, 737 p. (French edition)
- (French) Edmond Préclin, Les Jansénistes du XVIIIe siècle et la Constitution civile du clergé. Le développement du richérisme. Sa propagation dans le bas clergé. 1713-1791, Paris, librairie universitaire J. Gamber, 1929, 578 p.