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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Sidenote Spanish Renaissance architecture


peoples who have had their period of intellectual greatness have sooner or later fallen from their high estate, and it was inevitable that this should occur in the case of Spain. The decline in the peninsula was so excessive in degree, however, that historians have enquired whether there were not certain special causes to induce it. The baleful effect of the Inquisition, exercising a kind of religious censorship on all works, has usually been regarded as of the first importance in this respect. Yet the Inquisition existed during the period of greatness as well as in that of decadence, and to assert that the prohibitions placed upon the expression of even such important ideas as those having a religious bearing could dry up the native independence and freedom of Spanish thought is to confess a lack of knowledge of Spanish character. The Inquisition was one of a great many factors having some influence to check production, but it was not responsible to the degree that has been charged. The same thing is true of the government censorship independent of the Inquisition. Another factor of some importance was that the manifestations of the _siglo de oro_ had no solid foundation in the education of the masses, who remained as ignorant as in preceding centuries. If any set of causes can be singled out from the rest, it is probable that those having to do with the political and economic decline of the country as a whole affected, also, the intellectual output of the country. A natural
aptitude in the Spanish people, together with the national expansion in resources and power, had enabled them in the sixteenth century to develop an all-round intellectual productivity, more especially of a scientific order, and when this phase of the Golden Age was already dead, private wealth, refinement, and tradition remained to encourage expression in the realm of polite literature. Even this prop was removed by the end of the seventeenth century, and the final decline became inevitable.

[Sidenote: Great era of the fine arts.]

The general conditions affecting the history of art were the same as those already pointed out in dealing with literature. Spain produced painters whose works were to serve as among the greatest models of all time, and her attainments in other phases of art, if less inspiring, were of a distinguished order. Spanish architecture, though rarely approved by modern critics, was to become a force in the world through its transmission to the Americas. The so-called "Mission style" of California is nothing more than a reminiscence of the art forms of Spain in this period and the next.

[Sidenote: Spanish Renaissance architecture.]

[Sidenote: The Herreran style.]

[Sidenote: Baroque architecture.]

A continuation of the evolution begun in the preceding era, from Gothic to Renaissance architecture, resulted in the banishment of the former. The Renaissance edifices were in three principal styles, which did not succeed one another rigorously in turn, but which were mixed together, or passed almost imperceptibly from one to another, although roughly representing a certain chronological order. The first of these was characterized by the predominance of Renaissance factors over those which were more properly plateresque. The fa?ades of San Marcos of Le?n and of the _ayuntamiento_ (city hall) of Seville are good examples. By far the most

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