free ebooks

A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

The Encyclopedia was barred in 1784


Royal opposition to the entry of the encyclopedist and revolutionary ideas from France.]

If the Spanish kings were so careful to avoid any diminution in their authority through the restoration of the former powers of the _Cortes_, it may well be imagined that they were alarmed over the political ideas of the French encyclopedists of the later eighteenth century and still more so over those of the French revolutionaries after 1789. The works of such French writers as Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Mirabeau, or of the Englishmen Hobbes, Locke, Hume, and others were in many libraries of Spain, and some of them were translated. The Encyclopedia itself found its way into the peninsula. High Spanish officials, like Aranda, maintained correspondence with some of the French reformers, as did also some of the great Spanish nobles,--for example, the Duke of Alba with Rousseau, and the Marquis of Miranda with Voltaire. It was the fashion, too, for Spaniards to get part of their education in France, or for French professors, French laborers, and, later, French revolutionary propagandists to cross the Pyrenees. Thus the new ideas gained a footing in Spain, where they were taken up at educational institutions, especially at the University of Salamanca, and by some newspapers (for that type of periodical had begun to appear), although expressions were naturally somewhat guarded. With the outbreak of the French Revolution, Floridablanca sent troops

to the northern frontier to prevent the entry of political agitators. The Inquisition issued edicts against the introduction of prohibited books, and published a new index in 1790, followed by a supplement in 1805, for the rationalist ideas of the French reformers were not in accord with those of the church. The civil authorities took similar action; the Encyclopedia was barred in 1784, and many other works at other times; in 1792 officials were placed at customs-houses to examine all writings, whether printed or manuscript; and in 1805 a tribunal of printing (_Juzgado de Imprenta_) was created, independent of the _Consejo_ and the Inquisition. These measures failed to prevent the dissemination of French literature and thought, but were successful in checking any effective expression of democratic or republican ideals during this period. While men of influence approved the philanthropic side of the new ideas, very few of them accepted their political tenets. It was quite the usual thing for men to say that the contract between monarch and people was equally binding on both, or to express admiration for the freedom of thought permitted in England, while they opposed the forming of deliberative assemblies in Spain, and stood solidly behind the principle of absolutism. Some of the younger men went completely over to revolutionary ideas, and in 1795 some republican clubs were discovered, while many of the inhabitants of Guip?zcoa gave substantial aid to the French army of invasion in 1794. The reaction came quickly, as a result of the tyrannical conduct of the French military authorities. Thus the spirit of democracy in Spain seemed crushed, but it was not in fact destroyed, as was amply proved a few years later in the radical outburst of the _Cortes_ of C?diz.

[Sidenote: Pronounced acceleration of the tendencies toward a centralized state.]

Side by side with the development of absolutism there had been an effort on the part of the kings for many centuries to promote the centralization of political and administrative authority in the state as represented by the crown, and to bring about uniformity in the law. These tendencies were accelerated by the Bourbons,

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