Religious identities in the Iberian worlds (1500–1700)

Authored by: Ronnie Po-chia Hsia , Federico Palomo

The Iberian World

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138921016
eBook ISBN: 9780429283697
Adobe ISBN:


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In the setting of religious confrontations that marked the European world of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and in support of the imperial undertaking that justified itself by its proselytising, the Iberian monarchies made adherence to the Roman Catholic faith a central element of their identities as realms composed of disparate territories. For which reasons it became one of their main political goals the establishment of confessional uniformity in their peninsular and European territories, while at the same time, the promotion of religious conversion among the peoples encountered in the Americas, Asia, and Africa. Based on some interpretations in recent historiography on the character of modern Catholicism and its global spread, this chapter analyses the manner in which, within the Iberian peninsula, in the Atlantic world and in Asia, societies were characterised by their adherence to the Roman Catholic faith. Their members ended up identifying themselves as Catholics, despite the margins of “creativity” that are expressed in the ways of indoctrination, and their various expressions of a religiosity that did not always conform to the models defined by orthodoxy, and by their innumerable daily transgressions of norms. In this sense, this analysis shows the configuration of multiple cultural Catholic identities within the different Iberian worlds; or, if you prefer, of diverse expressions of a modern Catholicism, that, despite its undeniable intolerance and violence, was also characterised by a certain flexibility.

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