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A French theologian, born in 1511 at Châlons-sur-Marne; died 5 Oct., 1571, at Paris. He entered the Collège de Navarre in 1536, and four years later was made rector of the University of Paris, even before receiving the doctorate, which was conferred on him in 1542. He was then called to the court of Cardinal de Lorraine. Some propositions in his Lenten sermons of 1543 were referred to the Sorbonne, and d'Espence was asked to explain or retract them. He was one of the theologians called to the consultation held at Mélun in 1544 in relation to the Council of Trent. In 1547, having been sent to the council itself, then transferred to Bologna, he returned to France almost immediately, as the council was again adjourned. He went to another consultation held at Orléans in 1560. At the Conference of Poissy (1561) he argued against Beza in favour of tradition, the infallibility of the Church, the Sacrament of Order, etc. The same year an anonymous work was published on the veneration of images. This work was censured by the Sorbonne, and as d'Espence was believed to be its author, he was required to subscribe to the sixteenth article of the faculty, which was directed against Protestants.
D'Espence's works, collected in one volume (Paris, 1619), are: "Traité contre l'erreur vieil et renouvelé des Prédestinés" (Lyons, 1548); "Institution d'un prince chrétien" (Lyons, 1548), dedicated to Henry II; "De clandestinis matrimoniis" (Paris, 1561), in which the parents' consent is held to be necessary for the validity of marriage; "Cinq sermons ou traités . . ." (Paris, 1562); "Libellus de privatâ et publicâ missâ", which shows that in the primitive Church Mass was not celebrated unless some of the faithful were present; "De continentiâ" (Paris, 1565); "Commentarius in epistolam primam ad Timotheum" (Paris, 1561); "Comm. in posteriorem epist. ad Timotheum" (Paris, 1564); "Comm. in epist. ad Titum" (Paris, 1568). To these are added a few other works, treatises, discourses, sermons, conferences, and poems.
HURTER, Nomenclator, I, 6; DUPIN, Nouvelle Bibliothèque des auteurs ecclésiastiques (Paris, 1710), XVI, 104; SIMON, Hist. crit. des. principaux commentaires du N. T. (Rotterdam, 1693), 591; KERKER in Kirchenlex., IV, 906; BARTHÉLEMY, Etude biog. sur Claude d'Espence (Châlons-sur-Marne, 1853).
C. A. DUBRAY.