The first council of Arles in 314 formally condemned the heresy of Donatism. It began as an appeal by the Donatists to Constantine the Great against the decision of the Council of Rome in 313 at the Lateran under Pope Miltiades. The appeal turned out unfavorably to the Donatists who afterwards became enemies of the Roman authorities. The Council of Arles was the first called by Constantine and is the forerunner of the First Council of Nicaea. Augustine of Hippo called it an Ecumenical Council.
It excommunicated Donatus and passed twenty-two canons concerning Easter (which should be held on the same day throughout the world, rather than being set by each local church), against the non-residence of clergy, against participation in races and gladiatorial fights (to be punished by excommunication), against the rebaptism of heretics, and on other matters of discipline. Clergymen who could be proven to have delivered sacred books in persecution (the traditores) should be deposed, but their official acts were to be held valid. The assistance of at least three bishops was required at ordination.
Called in support of Arianism. It was attended, among others, by two papal legates. The legates were tempted into rejecting communion with Athanasius and refused to condemn Arius, an act which filled Pope Liberius with grief.
A council was held on New Year's Day of 435, to settle the differences that had arisen between the Abbot of Lérins and the Bishop of Fréjus.
In the synod of 443 (452), attended also by bishops of neighbouring provinces, fifty-six canons were formulated, mostly repetitions of earlier disciplinary decrees. Neophytes were excluded from major orders; married men aspiring to the priesthood were required to promise a life of continency, and it was forbidden to consecrate a bishop without the assistance of three other bishops and the consent of the Metropolitan.
A council of 451 held after the close of the Council of Chalcedon in that year, sent its adhesion to the "Epistola dogmatica" of Pope Leo I, written by Flavian of Constantinople (see Eutyches)
Apropos of the conflict between the archiepiscopal See of Vienne and Arles a council was held in the latter city in 463, which called forth a famous letter from St. Leo I. Bishop Leontius of Arles presided; twenty bishops attended.
In 475 (though some scholars say it was 480) another council was called, attended by thirty bishops, in which the pre-destinationist teachings of the priest Lucidus were condemned.
Exemplified the close connection between the church and the Merovingian dynasty.
A regional council was held in 524, with 14 bishops and 4 presbyters present. This council was held under the presidency of St. Caesarius of Arles; its canons deal chiefly with the conferring of orders. A number of Caesarius of Arles' works have been published in Sources Chrétiennes.
Little is known of the councils of 554 and 682.
Possibly a provincial council, at which Theudorius of Arles was to be judged.
An important council was held in 813, at the instigation of Charlemagne, for the correction of abuses and the reestablishment of ecclesiastical discipline. Its decrees insist on a sufficient ecclesiastical education of bishops and priests, on the duty of both to preach frequently to the people and to instruct them in the Catholic Faith, on the obligation of parents to instruct their children, etc.
In 1034 a council was held at Arles for the re-establishment of peace, the restoration of Christian Faith, the awakening in the popular heart of a sense of divine goodness and of salutary fear by the consideration of past evils.
The 1234 Council opposed the Albigensian heresy. In 1236 a further council was held under the presidency of Jean Baussan, Archbishop of Arles, which issued twenty-four canons, mostly against the prevalent Albigensian heresy, and for the observance of the decrees of the Lateran Council of 1215 and that of Toulouse in 1229. Close inspection of their dioceses is urged on the bishops, as a remedy against the spread of heresy; testaments are declared invalid unless made in the presence of the parish priest. This measure, met with in other councils, was meant to prevent testamentary dispositions in favour of known heretics.
In 1251, Jean, Archbishop of Arles, held a council near Avignon (Concilium Insculanum), among whose thirteen canons is one providing that the sponsor at baptism is bound to give only the white robe in which the infant is baptized.
In 1260 a council held by Florentin, Archbishop of Arles, decreed that confirmation must be received for fasting, and that on Sundays and feast days the religious should not open their churches to the faithful, nor preach at the hour of the parish Mass. The laity should be instructed by their parish priests. The religious should also frequent the parochial service, for the sake of good example. This council also condemned the doctrines spread abroad under the name of Joachim of Fiore, a 12th-century monk and mystic. He was further condemned at a Council held in 1263
In 1275, twenty-two earlier observances were promulgated anew at a Council of Arles.Gaudemet, Jean; Basdevant-Gaudemet, Brigitte; Clercq, Charles de (1989). Les Canons des conciles mérovingiens, VIe-VIIe siècles: texte Latin de l'édition C. de Clercq (in Latin and French). Éditions du Cerf. ISBN 978-2-204-03030-4.