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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Certificates of limpieza de sangre that is to say


was carried to an excess which

transcended unity itself through an extension of the institution of _limpieza de sangre_. Certificates of _limpieza de sangre_ (that is to say, sworn statements that the bearer had no Jewish, Moslem, or heretic antecedents) now began to be required for the holding of various church offices or for entry into religious orders and often also for admission to the guilds. As a matter of fact there were few families which could have withstood a close examination of their ancestry; the upper classes would almost surely have been found to contain Jewish blood, and the masses, certainly in the east and south, would have had a Moslem admixture in their veins. The attainment of religious unity and the extreme suspicion in which non-Catholics were held did not succeed in making the Spanish people respond to the moral code of their faith. Not only such licentious practices as have already been alluded to were in vogue, but also a surprising lack of reverence was displayed, as exemplified by the improper use of sacred places and sacred objects and the mixture of the human and the divine in masquerades. Nevertheless, it is not too much to say that the principal preoccupation of Spaniards in the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries was the salvation of their souls. The worst of men would want to confess and seek absolution before they died, and many of them no doubt believed themselves to be good Catholics, even though their every-day life would not have borne inspection. One notable religious
manifestation of the era was the ardent insistence of Spaniards on the mystery of the Immaculate Conception at a time when Catholics of other countries were not yet ready to accept that view.

[Sidenote: Conflict of the kings with the popes in matters of temporal import.]

In distinguishing between the spiritual and the temporal phases of papal authority the kings of the House of Austria followed the policy of the Catholic Kings, but surpassed the latter in their claims of the superiority, or independence, as the case might be, of the royal power. Various factors contributed to this attitude in Spain. The monarchical ideal of a centralized absolutism, now that it had triumphed over the nobility and the towns, sought out the church in its civil aspects as the next outstanding element to dominate; the interests of the Spanish kings in Italy continued to bring them into opposition to the popes as sovereigns of the Papal States; and the problems of ecclesiastical reform often found the kings and the popes widely, even bitterly, apart. Charles I had frequent conflicts with the papacy, but Philip II had even more serious contests, in which he displayed yet more unyielding resistance than his father to what he regarded as the unwarranted intrusions of the popes into the sphere of Spanish politics. When in 1556 it seemed likely that Philip would be excommunicated and his kingdom laid under an interdict, Philip created a special council to exercise in Spain such functions as were customarily in the hands of the pope. In this as in his other disputes of a political nature with the papacy he was able to count on the support of the Spanish clergy. One document reciting Philip's grievances against Pope Paul IV, applying harsh epithets to him, and expressing doubt as to the legitimacy of his election, is believed to have been written by a member of the clergy. Another document, the _Parecer_, or opinion, of Melchor Cano, a Dominican, argued the lawfulness of making war on the pope, and said that in such cases, when communication with Rome was insecure, the bishops might decide ecclesiastical questions which were ordinarily left to the pope.


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