free ebooks

A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

They observed religious ceremonies


[Sidenote:

Inter-relations of the different religious elements.]

The new spirit was manifested in, and was to some extent caused by, the frequency of communications between Catholics and Protestants or between Catholics and anti-church elements, such as the encyclopedists and Jansenists. In earlier times, such a correspondence would have been a serious religious crime which even the most prominent would have been afraid to attempt; now, it was not generally regarded as seriously reprehensible, though far from being looked upon with favor, and many churchmen themselves might have been held guilty if charges on this account had been brought. The quarrels of different factions in the church among themselves, notably the opposition to the Jesuits, and the intensely royalist policy of the kings tended in the same direction. Some evidences of the new attitude toward religion were also to be found in the laws. A treaty of 1713 with the Netherlands allowed Protestants of that country having business in Spain to reside in the peninsula, and a like privilege was granted to Spanish Catholics in the Netherlands. The _asiento_ treaty with England in the same year did not, as had at first been proposed, restrict to Catholics the privileges thereby granted to Englishmen. A series of treaties with Morocco, Tripoli, Tunis, and Turkey in the reign of Charles III allowed of Catholic worship by Spaniards in those countries, and agreed that Moslems coming to Spain should be

respected in their religion. A general law of 1797 provided that any foreign artist or artisan could establish himself in the peninsula, and in case he were not a Catholic he was not to be molested in his religious opinions. The Jews were excluded from the operation of the law, however. Charles III had been favorable to a policy of toleration toward them as well, and had issued a decree in 1741, when he was king of Naples, permitting of their entry into his kingdom, but public opinion was still too strongly opposed to them, and he was obliged to recall his decree. Two ministers of Charles IV, Urquijo and Varela, made a like proposal, but he did not dare to follow their advice; rather, he expressly declared in a decree of 1802 that the existing laws and practices with respect to the Jews should continue to be observed. The Inquisition directed its activities in this period to attacking the new philosophic and religious ideas and to defending itself as well as it could from the inroads of royalism, while there were still numerous processes against superstitious practices, Jewish worship, and the crimes of bigamy and notorious immorality. The number of cases before the Inquisition was not less than formerly, and not a few persons, especially Jews and Illuminati, were put to death. In general, however, greater leniency was displayed, and the Inquisition was no longer the much feared institution it once had been.

[Sidenote: Underlying spirit of intolerance and Catholic fervor.]

Nevertheless, both the clergy and the great majority of the people remained as intolerant as ever. Ignorance played no small part in this feeling; thus French priests expelled from their country at the time of the revolution were suspected of heresy, and the general opinion of the Spanish common people with regard to Frenchmen was that they were all not only heretics or atheists but also cannibals. The ideal of toleration hardly passed beyond the narrow circle of the upper classes, but it was they who decided the policy of the state; indeed, the attitude toward religion in this period perfectly exemplified the workings of the benevolent despotism. The very men who expressed tolerant views and framed legislation to that end were pious in their private life, furnishing numerous proofs thereof, every day. Thus Spaniards still gave a multitude of Christian names to their children, in order to procure for them the protection of many saints; they observed religious ceremonies, such as processions, baptisms, and saints' days of individuals, as the most important events of social life; they prayed daily, and at the sound of the Angelus all work stopped, even theatrical performances, and every one bowed his head in prayer; phrases with a religious turn were a part of everyday speech; sacred images and chapels were as abundant as formerly; and in a thousand ways, from the king to the lowest peasant, men continued to manifest their devotion to the Catholic faith.


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org 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 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us