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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

And Jesuit Fathers first preached their doctrine

to deal with the ecclesiastical

institutions in Spain at the same time with other manifestations of a social, political, economic, or intellectual character, but the period of Hapsburg rule was so replete with interest on the religious side and so important in that respect in its ultimate results on the Americas that this phase of Spanish life in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is deserving of separate treatment. Two ideas dominated the period: the struggle for the maintenance of the Catholic faith against the inroads of Protestantism and other heretical beliefs; and the efforts of the Spanish state to acquire a virtual political supremacy over the church. Few periods of history more clearly illustrate the distinction maintained in Catholic countries between Catholicism as a religious faith and the Catholic Church as an institution, a difference which people of the United States do not readily grasp. Thus it was entirely consistent that the kings of Spain should have been almost the most ardent champions in Europe of Catholic Christianity, officers of the church not excepted, and also most persistent in their endeavors to limit the ecclesiastical authority in Spanish domains. The greatest exponent of the latter policy as well as of the former was Philip II, one of the most devout monarchs who ever occupied the Spanish throne. In both of these controversies the kings were successful. Heresy made no headway in Spain or in the colonies, and the king gained the upper hand in the management of the Spanish
and American church. Meanwhile Spanish missionaries were carrying on one of the greatest campaigns of proselytism ever waged. The thoroughness of the conversion of the natives in Spain's colonial possessions has been questioned, but there is no doubt that something of the external forms and the glamour--so much, at least--of the Catholic religion was implanted in the Americas in such a way that it has withstood the experiences of centuries. Spanish American peoples, like Spaniards, were to have their conflicts with the church,--very bitter ones in recent years,--but never, since the Franciscan, Dominican, and Jesuit Fathers first preached their doctrine, has favor been shown for any great length of time to the other exotic faiths, or has any noteworthy success been met with in the attempts, usually short-lived, at a reversion to the earlier native creeds. The work of the Spanish missionary was indeed a permanent factor of indisputable importance in the new world.

[Sidenote: Religious exaltation and the increase in the prestige and wealth of the clergy.]

One of the effects of the attainment of religious unity by the conversion or expulsion from Spain of the Jews, Mud?jares and Moriscos was to exalt the feeling of religious sentiment in the peninsula. The Protestant Reformation and the religious wars which accompanied it tended to keep alive these emotions among Spaniards, partly because of the spirit of controversy they excited, and partly because of the blows and suffering they involved, and this spirit of religious exaltation was sustained by the increasing vigor of the Inquisition and by the activities of the Jesuit order, founded in this period. In consequence the power and social influence of the clergy were materially enhanced. The regular clergy was looked upon with especial favor, with the result that both in riches and in membership they far surpassed the secular branch. Many new orders were founded, while the older ones received fresh stimulus. At the beginning of the seventeenth century

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