free ebooks

A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Charged the Jesuits with heresy

order soon made itself felt

throughout the world. At first Spaniards were in the majority, and it was natural that the Jesuits should establish themselves in Spain's dominions. By 1547 they had five institutions in Spain, and by 1566 sixteen. Soon afterward they began to appear in the Americas, where they became one of the principal agencies of the Spanish crown in the conversion and subjection of the natives, being perhaps the most effective of the missionary orders. Not only as missionaries but also as theologians, scientists, and men of letters the Spanish Jesuits were among the most distinguished men of the age. They were not welcomed by their fellow-countrymen in Spain, however; rather, they had to contend against some of the most powerful elements in the peninsula. Members of the clergy, both regular and secular, were opposed to them,--notably the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians, and the officers of the Inquisition, the first named especially,--while the universities and at the outset the kings were also hostile. Melchor Cano, a Dominican and one of the most influential men of his day, charged the Jesuits with heresy, claiming that their vows savored of the doctrines of the _Iluminados_. The archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal Siliceo, forbade them to preach, confess, say mass, or administer sacraments, but was obliged by the pope to retract his decrees. Arias Montano attacked them in the preface of his polyglot Bible, asserting that the Jesuits claimed that they alone had knowledge and that they
were the nearest of all men to Jesus. These are but a few instances out of many, showing the difficulties encountered by the Jesuits in establishing themselves in Spain. It seems likely that jealousy may have entered into much of the resistance to them, for they early began to outrank and even supersede other elements in teaching and in learning. Charles I and Philip II objected to them because they placed the pope ahead of the king, not acknowledging the latter's authority over them, and this was not altogether in accordance with the royal ideal of centralization. Furthermore, the Jesuits were such an aggressive factor that they were hard to manage. The Inquisition took exception among other things to the Jesuit claim of a right to absolve their own members from the charge of heresy, and imprisoned the Jesuit _provincial_, or commanding official, in Spain, together with other members of the order. Philip II took sides with the Inquisition, but the pope sustained the Jesuits. By the seventeenth century the Jesuits had succeeded in overcoming their rivals, although they never ceased to have enemies. Their success was due in the first place to the continued support of the popes; in the second to the change of heart experienced by Philip II late in life, when he began to realize that they were one of the most effective instruments for the religious unification of his dominions, and in so much furthered his ideal of centralization; in the third place to the backing of the opponents of their enemies, especially those who were hostile to the Inquisition; and, finally, and perhaps most of all, to their own superior attainments, whereby they were able to win a devoted following among all ranks of society. The successors of Philip II followed the later policy of that king, with the result that the seventeenth century was the most prosperous era in the history of the Jesuit order.

[Sidenote: _Limpieza de sangre_ and the fervor of Spanish Catholicism.]

One thing Spanish kings failed to do elsewhere in Europe they achieved in Spain,--their ideal of religious unity. At the same time that they were suppressing heresy they were giving a welcome to Catholics fleeing to Spain from Protestant persecution, notably to the Irish, who came to the peninsula in great numbers. The ideal of Catholic unity

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us