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God in La Mancha: Religious Reform and the People of Cuenca

Sara T. Nalle



4

Teaching a Lesson and Learning One

[104] In 1556, Juan de Collega, a shepherd from remote Arbeteta, faced the inquisitors in Cuenca on charges of impiety and blasphemy. As his interrogation progressed, the inquisitors were shocked to discover that Juan never went to confession. Instead, he believed that it was enough to say a Hail Mary, and he drew from the folds of his shirt a small primer containing the church's prayers. When asked to recite the Hail Mary and his other prayers, however, Juan could only sign and cross himself. Illiterate, and cut off from human and spiritual company by his profession, he had carried his prayer sheet with him, talismanlike, for three or four years. The inquisitors informed Juan of his Christian obligation to attend mass weekly. The court's secretary noted, "He did not know that, nor had he any recollection of it, since it had been so long since he'd left off going to mass. He didn't know how many masses he had heard in his lifetime." The inquisitors asked the shepherd why he was ignorant of his obligations and prayers. Juan replied almost Biblically that it was because "he wandered lost in those hills." Instead of penancing Juan, the inquisitors suspended his trial and sent him to the Jesuits for remedial instruction. They reserved the better part of their anger for Juan's pastors. "The priests in that region ought to be punished," they declared, "because they allowed a man to grow up without learning Christian doctrine."(1)

"Doctrine"- this was the word that sent armies into battle in the sixteenth century. The century ushered in a struggle for souls that would be waged as vigorously in the classroom as on the battlefield. Without the right doctrine, or "healthy" doctrine, as the Spanish put it, a Christian was nothing. The Protestants became famous for their written culture and the schools that they set up to teach doctrine and to advance Biblical learning.(2) In the Catholic camp as well, enormous effort would be expended on religious education to insure that God's Word did touch the most humble shepherd and move him with its message.

The Christian doctrine, as the catechism was known in Spain, contained [105] all the knowledge that a person needed for his or her salvation. It taught Christians the words with which they should pray to God for temporal and spiritual succor and guidance and offered instructions as to what constituted a Christian way of life. Altogether, the doctrine outlined the two essential precepts: orare (to pray) and laborare (to work), in other words, faith and works.(3) Because Jesus Christ specifically ordered his disciples to pray in order to gain proximity to God and taught them the Lord's Prayer for that purpose, teaching doctrine was all the more important: how could individuals approach God and discharge their Christian obligation if they did not possess the right words, the necessary prayers? This is why the inquisitors of Cuenca were so scandalized by Juan de Collega's ignorance and why Juan carried his "prayers" with him wherever he went. Of course one could address God directly through conscious meditation (mental prayer), but this was an arduous and dangerous path to God. Church officials much preferred for the laity to supplicate the Lord and acknowledge his divine power by using set formulae that could be repeated over and over ( verbal prayer). Constant repetition of the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the Hail Mary, and Salve Regina strengthened a Christian's bonds to his God, even if one did not pause to consider the meaning of each word and phrase as Ignatius Loyola urged.

With a large number of recent converts from Islam and Judaism to care for, Spanish ecclesiastics had more reason than most to worry about religious indoctrination. The conquest of Granada, and, indeed, the discovery of the New World challenged the resourcefulness of missionaries. Before long, techniques developed for teaching doctrine to the moriscos were being applied to Old Christian children, who, reformers realized, needed instruction just as much as did the new converts. By mid-sixteenth century, the country was in the grips of what can only be called a catechism craze. Reformers such as Juan de Avila believed that if the people were taught their prayers and how to examine their consciences, individuals suddenly would become spiritually empowered, and society as a whole, having internalized the teachings of the catechism, would be regenerated.(4) By some accounts, common people came to regard doctrine with the same fervor as did reformers. When given the opportunity, they rushed to learn their birthright, or, like Juan de Collega, at least tried to place themselves under its protection.

At first glance it appears that the emphasis of Spanish Catholic educational activity was on preaching and oral instruction in the parishes.(5) Indeed, for a population that largely was illiterate and rural, this [106] might seem to have been the only practical approach. However, contemporaries across Europe, including Spanish pedagogues, believed that charity required that the poor and ignorant be educated in both the spirit and the mind, in other words, in both doctrine and basic literacy.(6) The Jesuit Order, itself only recently founded, sent missionaries into the towns, where they tried out different ways of teaching the catechism. Reinforcing both preaching and schools, Spanish presses churned out thousands of primers, catechisms, and confesionarios for the benefit and edification of those striving to learn the principles of their faith.

Teaching Doctrine in the Parishes

Preoccupation with teaching doctrine and prayers was nothing new in Castile. In 1322 the National Council of Valladolid established that all churches had to display the so-called tabla moral, on which were written in Latin and Castilian the Articles of Faith, the Ten Commandments, the Commandments of the Church, and the Seven Capital Sins with their opposite virtues. Four times a year (Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, and Assumption) and on Sundays during Lent, priests were supposed to teach the tabla moral.(7) From the late fifteenth century onward, church leaders progressively stiffened statutes concerning Christian education, endorsed such ideas as Sunday schools and catechism-primary schools, and undertook to print the necessary elementary texts that would be used in such schools.(8)

In its medieval synodal constitutions, Cuenca conformed to the national orders concerning teaching doctrine. Later on in the fourteenth century, one reads about establishing the tabla moral and teaching doctrine.(9)In 1484 the bishop of Cuenca, Alfonso de Burgos, brought the diocese in line with the recent statutes from Toledo. Sacristans were ordered to teach reading, writing, and doctrine to parish boys every day for four hours. Families had to send at least one son to the parish school, where they would learn how to read from the tabla moral. Parents who did send their boys to school would be rewarded with forty days of grace, and they were forbidden to send their children under age fourteen to secular schools. However, these pious statutes relied on good will and lacked the means to make them effective. Burgos was vague about which parts of the doctrine should be learned, he did not establish penalties for priests and sacristans who failed to teach the catechism, and parishioners who did not learn their prayers were not expressly denied any of the sacraments.(10)

[107] Fifty years of experience served to correct some of Burgos's overly optimistic expectations. In his constitutions, Bishop Ramírez dropped the idea of parish schools, perhaps because it was unrealistic to expect sacristans to take on such a large burden. Instead, he made it clear who was responsible for what: on Sundays and holidays, priests would read from the tabla moral and teach the evangelists for at least fifteen minutes on pain of a fine of three reals, while during Lent, sacristans would be responsible for intensive catechism classes. Ramírez further stipulated at what ages children, both boys and girls, would be expected to know which prayers. Those under twelve had know how to cross and bless themselves. The older children learned the four basic prayers of the church (oraciones dominicales), the Articles of Faith, the Ten Commandments, the Theological and Cardinal virtues, and the General Confession. And if some children were "so stupid and incapable that they cannot learn it there [with the sacristan]," the priests were to "warn their fathers and mothers to teach it to them."(11) In accordance with Trent, which gave the curas a monopoly over indoctrination, Fresneda specifically ordered in 1566 that parishioners learn the Christian doctrine with their curas and no one else. To make certain that the laity would learn the catechism, he ordered priests not to marry any couple unless both partners could recite the church's prayers.(12) In 1602 Bishop Pacheco ordered priests also to refuse absolution to penitents who did not know the catechism, and he added diocesan laws that forced prospective godparents to prove they had the necessary knowledge for the responsibility they were undertaking. To facilitate teaching the catechism, Pacheco also laid down that every parish had to hire a schoolmaster to run Sunday school on a regular basis in the community, and he included Domingo de Soto's question-and-answer catechism in the front pages of the diocesan constitutions.(13)

Demanding laws meant nothing if they were not enforced. In the surviving parish books dating from 1484 to 1527, diocesan inspectors left no orders concerning teaching doctrine.(14) In 1528 for the first time orders regarding the catechism were left in one of the parishes: the cura of San Martín de Cuenca was instructed to teach the tabla moral on Sundays and during Lent. Following Ramírez's episcopacy, throughout the century parish inspectors constantly reminded village priests that doctrine had to be taught on a regular basis. The decade of 1540 was a watershed; during these years, the inspectors began to order far more than what the diocesan constitutions mandated. Parish curas were told to recite the prayers and explain the Gospel on Sundays and holidays, [108] while sacristans had to teach the catechism every afternoon. Parishioners were not to be married or absolved from sin if they did not know their prayers.(15)

The repeated orders seem gradually to have taken effect. As required, parish priests began to spend some of their time going over the parts of the catechism, but sometimes this apparently simple task led to difficulties. In 1558 Bishop Castro sent out printed prayer sheets to the parishes so that priests could easily read the catechism aloud after mass. One Sunday, Julián Buedo, cura at Almodovar del Pino, began to read from the pamphlet, but he soon gave up in disgust. "Too prolix," he declared, and he went back to reciting the Articles of Faith incorrectly.(16) Bishop Quiroga's visitors explained to the parish priests exactly how they should turn towards the congregation and recite the prayers loudly and slowly so that people could repeat them as they were being said.(17) Thus, another priest, Juan de Calahorra, in 1573 swore in front of Cuenca's provisor that it was his habit to declare the Articles of Faith every Sunday in Mazarulleque in just the manner the parish inspectors had ordered. However, Calahorra, who had the unpleasant habit of hawking and spitting after consuming the host, made the mistake of trying to interpret the ninth article, "Christ was born of the virgin womb of the Virgin Mary, who remained a virgin before, during, and after the birth." Calahorra apparently wanted to identify Jesus more closely with the common people by making the Virgin more human, so he explained, "Jesus Christ would have liked to have been incarnated in a slightly sinful woman, of poor family and not of royal lineage."(18) The Articles of Faith also tripped up Alonso Cano, assistant priest in Buendía. He got to the eleventh article about Christ descending to hell, and explained how "[Christ's] soul with his divinity descended to hell while his body remained alone [above ground?], without his divinity."(19)

Despite the occasional gaffes, on the whole the large majority of the clergy must have taught the prayers correctly, because most conquenses eventually learned how to give letter-perfect recitations. María Pineda, whose husband was a labrador in Huete, was quite proud of the fact that she knew her prayers "just like they are said and taught in the Christian doctrine, because she goes [to church] every Sunday to hear it."(20) In fact, Bishop Pacheco found in 1602 that because parish priests were doing their job, parishioners were sneaking off to hear Sunday mass at the semi-independent local ermitas, because there they would not be harangued about doctrine.(21)

Although priests were required to recite the prayers on Sundays, [109] through weekly sermons, the curas' more important task was to build upon their parishioners' rudimentary knowledge of the Christian faith. Already in the 1520s and 1530s a movement was under way in Castile to change the sermon's rigid, five-part format in order to make it a more spontaneous, inspirational piece of oratory. The improvements in preaching style were most notably advocated by the Christian humanists, such as Antonio de Guevara and Dionisio Vázquez, who were Charles V's court preachers.(22) Juan de Avila, who was immensely popular as a preacher with both kings and commoners, perceived his pastoral mission as twofold: to preach and catechize, and to show others how to do so as well. Other preachers reminded would-be preachers that their sermons were performances and gave advice on how to improve one's delivery.(23) These authors encouraged preachers, particularly untrained parish priests, to use the sermon as an occasion to explain doctrine in simple terms and even to go over the church's prayers. During the important religious seasons, they urged preachers to evoke a religious response from their listeners, make the congregation aware of its sinfulness and yearn for divine grace. Cheaply produced sermon collections provided parish priests with the ideas, if not the very words, for uplifting lessons at Lent, Eastertide, and the other holidays of the Christian year.(24)

Of all the duties priests had to perform, no doubt preaching was the one most fraught with difficulties. Parishioners and fellow priests listened carefully to sermons, and luckless preachers who mixed up their theology, said something silly, or sparked professional jealousy sometimes found themselves in front of Cuenca's inquisitors.(25) Conquenses prized good preachers and looked forward to the special occasions when a preacher from outside the parish would be hired. Usually, the virtuoso preachers would be selected from the mendicants and Jesuits living in the diocese who traveled from place to place on pastoral missions.(26) After Trent, parishioners were entitled to weekly sermons from their own priests, and some towns went to the extreme of suing priests who failed to live up to the diocesan regulation. When the town of Salmerón sued its priest in 1574, Alonso Gómez responded that he did enough by teaching the catechism as required and that Franciscans from a nearby monastery could supply the sermons. The town rebutted that Gómez neither taught doctrine nor was capable of doing so and that the town should not have to pay the Franciscans to do what their own cura was required to do.(27)

Textbooks on sacred oratory recommended that when dealing with [110] unsophisticated audiences, preachers choose topics concerning morals and keep their language simple. This is what Bllr. Agustín Pastor, a priest from Mira, tried to do in a sermon he gave on the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady.

I was persuading the people to have good habits, and that that feast of Our Lady gave us to understand that we were supposed to imitate as best we could her chastity, purity, humility, and good behavior....To convince them more, I brought in some authorities from Holy Scripture and after stating them, I told them, "Well, if this is the truth, as it is, and since I believe it, why don't we be good and imitate the saints?"(28)
Lcdo. Francisco Narvaez, a priest in Uclés, decided to explain the mortal sin of sloth, with the idea that idleness led people to talk about forbidden subjects. He took as his example the beatas of the town, whom he characterized as lazy women with nothing to do, and chastised them from the pulpit for having discussed the mystery of the Incarnation. The assistant priest took offense at the public humiliation of the beatas by the converso preacher, and denounced him to the Inquisition.(29)

Purgatory, Christ's redemption of mankind on the cross, and indulgences were favorite topics of preachers but often led them into a theological thicket. As a special concession to the Spanish crown, which reaped some of the profit from them, indulgences called "jubilees" and "crusades" continued to be sold in great quantities in Spain after Trent.(30) The jubilee granted the buyer absolution and the right not to confess at Eastertide, or it could help redeem souls from purgatory. On Saint Andrew's day, Pedro de Carrascosa tried to prick his flock's conscience by asking, "Have you done anything good for your dead? Have you bought jubilees for them?" Trying to explain to the congregation what Glory was like to the souls that go to heaven, he said stupidly, "Glory tastes like all the flavors you want, even the homely and dirty ones." But what got him in trouble was his assertion that it was not possible to know whether Christ actually granted the indulgences when the pope asked him to.(31) In another incident, which could just as well be a page out of the controversy over indulgences in Germany, Lcdo. Bautista Ayora, a rationer at the Collegiate Church of Belmonte, tried to get his congregation to buy indulgences by promising them that

It's true what His Holiness grants you in this jubilee, and he has the authority to do so. And if you, for your part, don't [111] procrastinate, and do the things that His Holiness makes clear to you and orders, you will earn the said jubilee just like it's granted, and you will be absolved of guilt and satisfaction in such a way that if in winning it you should die, your soul will go straight to heaven without suffering in purgatory.(32)
Obviously, priests made errors. Yet, the diocesan licensing system must have prevented the worst scenes from taking place, since priests' remarks from the pulpit almost never got them into serious trouble. With time, the Inquisition heard fewer cases involving preaching, either because the paranoia of the 1550s had passed or because the quality of parish sermons improved as curas became more highly trained. On the whole, the Inquisition was tolerant of botched sermons and preferred to reprimand priests in secret, probably so that the clergy's credit with the people would be saved. Only rarely was an unfortunate preacher required to go back to his parish and give his sermon over, explaining what he had said wrong, and none were sent to an auto de fe.

Schools for Doctrine and Missions

The late fifteenth-century synodal constitutions from Toledo and Cuenca recommended establishing parish catechism schools. Although the schools do not seem to have been set up, several basic catechisms for teaching doctrine to children were printed around Spain before the end of the century.(33) The idea of schools for doctrine, however, continued to have a hold on the imagination of those concerned with religious education. The first schools were founded in Granada and Hornachos in order to teach morisco children.(34) Early in the sixteenth century, Fernando de Contreras composed a catechism for children and founded a school in Seville for Old Christian children that offered instruction in arts and letters, Latin, and religion. A visit to Seville in 1526 inspired young Juan de Avila to set up his own schools in Ecija, Cordova, Granada, Baeza, and elsewhere. He also composed a new type of catechism, in rhymed couplets, which the children could sing.(35) Another method of teaching doctrine was through confraternities organized for that purpose. Two early cofradías were founded in Zamora and Seville in the 1540s.(36) Both the notion of singing the catechism, and schools for doctrine quickly spread to other parts of Castile and other educators, particularly the Jesuits.(37)

When Loyola returned to the Basque Country in 1535 after his [112] studies at Paris, he immediately began teaching the Christian doctrine to young children. Perhaps during his stay in Spain he heard of Juan de Avila's experiments; or perhaps in Italy during the late 1530s he learned of Castellino da Castello's recently founded schools of Christian doctrine in Milan (1536) and Pavia (1538). In 1539, in the third article of the founding document of the Society of Jesus, members of the new order were bound to "hold esteemed the instruction of children and the uneducated in the Christine doctrine of the Ten Commandments and other similar rudiments."(38)

When a small group of Jesuits arrived in Cuenca in 1554, their primary intention was to establish a college for their own novices. Soon, however, they were preaching and teaching doctrine on Sundays and during Lent. As a favor to one of their early patrons, Canon Vergara, two fathers spent Lent in the year 1555 at one of his rural benefices catechizing and preaching in the neighborhood.(39) Presumably they employed the same tactics that other members of the order used from 1554 onwards in Alcalá (the home base for Cuenca's Jesuits), Gandía, Albarracín, Valencia, and Belmonte. During the afternoons, one Jesuit would walk through streets, ringing a bell, and the children followed him to the place of instruction. There they were first be encouraged to accuse one another of having sworn or lost their temper. Then they were taught how to sing their prayers, and at the end of the course the best catechumens won a prize.(40) In 1560, the impact of these methods in nearby Casas Ibañas (Albacete) was tremendous. After wondering which did more good, giving sermons or teaching catechism, Diego Xuárez wrote to his superiors

It melted my hard heart to see the eagerness with which the children came to doctrine, and they went singing it in the streets and fields, so that almost nothing else was heard. Some women were crying with devotion, and when we asked them why they didn't know the Ten Commandments, they said, "Because they didn't teach it to us like now in the streets."(41)
Like other members of the society, Xuárez found that holding competitions increased the children's motivation and pleased the parents. The prizes were simple: a cartilla for the boys and a rosary for the girls. Moreover, priests in the towns visited asked the Jesuits for printed copies of the method for praying the rosary so that uniformity would be observed.

In the city of Cuenca, the Jesuits continued to teach doctrine to [113] children, to give the Spiritual Exercises, and to hear confessions. In 1577, a deputation from the college went to the city hall to ask permission to teach reading, writing, arithmetic together with good habits and doctrine, because there was not enough money in Canon Marquina's legacy to start the university-level courses. Permission was granted, and the Jesuits were still teaching elementary school in Cuenca as late as 1615.(42)

The period 1545-55 also marked the appearance of yet another institution for teaching doctrine, the "colegios de niños de la doctrina." Although little is known about these schools, they were part of the many attempts to deal with the growing problem of urban poverty and vagabondage. In contrast to the Italian schools of doctrine, which were community-run Sunday schools, these institutions were houses for orphan boys. According to Juan de Avila, the reason for their foundation was that without the benefit of parents or anyone to give them guidance, orphans were growing up as criminals. The situation had grown so desperate that in many parts of Spain people had gotten together to create these colleges, where the children would be taught and then placed as apprentices. On learning of the project, the monarchy had ordered city governments to support the colleges.(43) The earliest colleges discovered to date are in Seville, founded in 1542 by Gil de Fuentes, and Avila, founded in 1547 by Hernando Alvárez de Aguila.(44) Valladolid's school, which was the largest, was in operation in 1552 and had statutes by 1553. The college in Toledo was founded and patronized by the city council; the earliest mention comes in 1554. The school in Alcalá de Henares was founded some years before 1579 and run by Juan López de Ubeda. There, the children helped pay for their expenses by selling López's prolific production of religious verses and songs.(45)

The first reference to Cuenca's niños de la doctrina appears in the deliberations of the city council on 4 November 1552. The boys petitioned the city to make a gift of firewood out of the timbers being removed from the plaza mayor because they had no fuel and it was very cold.(46) Around this time, as in other cities, the boys began marching in funeral processions, particularly those of well-to-do citizens. As they received only paltry gifts of money from the city council, funeral duty probably was their major source of income.(47) Despite the later patronage of a cathedral canon, the children lived under miserable conditions; in 1599 the forty boys did not even have beds. The rector of the college, Rodrigo de Burgos, was offered a novel form of charity: two individuals would give money to the school if the Inquisition agreed to commute [114] their sentences.(48) Although the college itself was poor, apparently not all of its inmates were destitute. Fernando de la Flor's will, made out in 1606, throws a somewhat different light on the institution. A native of Cañete, sixteen-year-old Fernando lived in "the house and college of the Children of Doctrine," at that time still under the rectorship of Burgos. Fernando may have been an orphan, but he was not poor: he willed fifty reals to the college and gave three ducats to a college friend to use for books.(49) In 1629, the city of Cuenca became the school's patron.(50)

Religious Pamphleteering and Indoctrination

Diocesan officials and the Jesuits relied on printed material to reinforce oral instruction of doctrine; conversely, schoolmasters used the catechism to teach reading.(51) Throughout the sixteenth century, the printing industry, booksellers, and schoolmasters were an integral part of indoctrination efforts. The interests of ecclesiastics and schoolmasters were quickly conflated into a single type of publication, the cartilla de leer.(52) In addition, the press was used to disseminate brief instructions on how to confess, while verses taught the lives of Christ and the saints, and short plays called farsas exemplified theology. The publications were produced as cheaply as possible by squeezing all of the text onto one or two sheets (pliegos), which were then folded into a convenient pamphlet sold for a few coins (see plates 4 and 5).

At mid-century, cartillas and pamphlets were being produced in quantities that could blanket even a large city such as Toledo. In 1556 the printer-bookseller Juan de Ayala had in stock 73,000 of the pamphlets, more than enough for every man, woman and child in Toledo and its nearby villages. He even had on hand 197 copies of Avila's rhymed catechisms, which were listed as "cartillas de Oydnos vos," printed shortly before in Valencia.(53) In Cuenca, in 1545 the bookseller Guillermo Remón's stock of about 7,000 religious pamphlets and primers was enough to supply half of the city's population with personal copies. Owing to the ephemeral and often anonymous nature of the chapbooks, it is impossible to know for certain whether Cuenca's early printers produced indigenous versions of the cartillas, verses, and skits. Certainly, the numbers of chapbooks in Remón's shop suggests that he printed his own supply. At the time of his death in 1545, the shop contained one thousand bound "treatises and prayers," 750 prayers to Saint Cyprian, 750 Testaments of Our Lord, several thousand verses to [117] Christ, Our Lady, and Saint Ann, another 1,000 elementary Spanish grammars written by a chaplain at the cathedral, and 1,000 "large primers."(54)

The primer may have resembled one brought out anonymously in 1549, the full title of which may be translated as "Primer: and Christian Doctrine: so that children and other persons not well instructed in our Holy Faith may learn. In which briefly is contained everything that a Christian is obligated to know, believe and do, and what he should avoid in order not to sin."(55) On the first two pages, the primer presented the alphabet and then syllabic combinations of letters. Immediately following that was a catechism. The teacher began by asking, "Child, are you a Christian? What is the sign of a Christian?" Then came instructions on how to cross and bless oneself. The author tried to instill basic understanding together with the prayers. For example, when crossing himself, the child touched his head, lips, and breast, because by virtue of the cross, the child's mind would be freed from evil thoughts, his mouth from bad words, and his breast from evil deeds. Before memorizing the Lord's Prayer, the child learned that when he recited the prayer he was talking to God, who resided both in heaven and in the Blessed Sacrament at church. Similarly, the Virgin Mary was "a very beautiful lady who is the mother of God and is in heaven." In the next breath, in order to combat the popular idolization of images of Mary, the child learned that the statue of Mary that was at the altar "is the image and semblance of she who is in heaven; by means of this we are reminded of she who is in heaven." At this point, other cartillas might follow with the remainder of the essential prayers- the Creed, Salve Regina, Confiteor, and the Ten Commandments. The author, however, preferred to lead the child through the Christian day, teaching him how to rise in the morning, praise God, go to church, and attend Mass. Then came the Fourteen Articles of Faith, the Creed, the Ten Commandments and the rest of the doctrine.(56)

While cartillas were an obvious boon to both schoolmasters and teachers of doctrine, from the Inquisition's point of view, the publications could have certain drawbacks. Printers all over Spain produced the pamphlets for local use, and sometimes mistakes in production occurred. In 1592, the Inquisition discovered that the primer and Christian doctrine printed at the expense of the church of Valladolid was embarrassingly incomplete: missing from the Creed was the article concerning Christ's resurrection, and there were only nine commandments! This gross oversight caused the Suprema to wonder about the reliability [118] of cartillas in general. Local tribunals were ordered to collect everything they could find, keep the faulty ones, and return the good ones.(57) On one occasion, following notification of a faulty primer, the Inquisition of Cuenca summoned all the city's booksellers to the tribunal's rooms and ordered them to surrender their copies. The city's schoolmasters were summoned as well, and were told not to teach from the cartilla in question.(58)

The Lesson Learned

It was a logical step for the Inquisition to proceed from censoring all books and pamphlets to questioning as many individuals as possible about their reading habits and religious life. Before the 1550s the Inquisition's interrogation of prisoners, like its censorship of books, was haphazard. The 1550s, however, changed all that. As censorship became more systematic, so did the inquisitors' questioning of defendants. Systematic background interviews were first introduced after 1540, although only suspected heretics were interrogated. However, as the Inquisition's definition of heresy became more elastic (see Chapter 2), the tribunal wound up interrogating hundreds of common blasphemers, fornicators, and the like, many of whom hailed from the most humble ranks of society (see table 4.1).


Table 4.1: Outstanding Characteristics of 812 Lay Men and Women
in Cuenca Questioned for Their Catechism, 1544-1661
Sex
No.
%
Marital
Status
No.
%
     Male
651
80
Married
489
64
     Female
161
20
Single
210
28
          Total
812
100
Widowed
 60
 8
     
     Total
759
100
     
N/A
 53

 
Ethnic Origin
No.
%
Age
No.
%
     Old Christian
563
75
14-19
 58
 7
     Morisco
112
15
20-24
119
15
     Converso
 54
 7
25-34
230
28
     Foreigner
14
 2
35-44
161
20
          Total
743
99
45-59
142
18
          N/A
 69
 
60+
101
12
Total
811
100
N/A
1

 
Occupation
No.
%
Date of Trial
No.
Farmer
196
27
1544-59
91
Artisan
164
23
1560-69
82
Day laborer
108
15
1570-79
128
Shopkeeper
51
7
1580-89
267
Hidalgo, rentier
34
5
1590-99
54
Liberal professions
32
4
1600-09
48
Servant
29
4
1610-19
39
Law official, soldier
25
3
1620-29
24
Merchant
23
3
1630-39
43
Shephard
20
3
1640-49
25
Miscellaneous
18
2
1650-61
11
Carter
13
2
Total
812
Hostelier
11
2
Total
724
101
N/A
88

 
Charge
No.
%
Blasphemy
205
25
Fornicario
200
25
Propositions
141
18
Islam
97
12
Judaizing
58
7
Estados
37
5
Bigamy
31
4
Superstition
22
3
Administrative
16
2
Total
807
101
N/A
5


The General Instructions of 1561 confirmed procedures for heretics that had been in use in Cuenca since the late 1540s. The defendant (reo) was to be treated with the respect his person demanded, but no matter his rank, inquisitors were required to collect carefully all the facts that could bear in evaluating gravity of his guilt. After establishing his identity and those of all of his relatives, the inquisitors asked the reo where he had been born and who had raised and instructed him; whether he had studied at a university; whether he had traveled abroad, and in whose company. Then, after inquiring whether the defendant knew or suspected the reason for his arrest, the inquisitors would ask the reo to recite the Christian doctrine and to reveal when he had last attended mass and gone to confession.(59) In the early 1570s, Cuenca's inquisitors added a few more questions to the format of the preliminary interview: did the defendant know how to read and write? where had he learned to do so? and finally, did he own any books, and what were their titles?(60)

As table 4.1 illustrates, between 1544 and 1661 the inquisitors interrogated persons from every walk of life, social class, and age group. [120] If they are taken as representative of the general population, the interviews recorded by the Inquisition may be used to evaluate the success of the church's catechization program. Based on outward indicators and what is known about Cuenca's social composition, in most respects defendants reflected the salient characteristics of conquense society.(61) The majority of defendants were Old Christian. Most engaged in agriculture or crafts, were married, and were under the age of forty. Thanks to the Inquisition's ceaseless visitas, a large percentage of the cases came from the diocese's small towns and villages. Two fifths of the defendants hailed from communities of under five hundred households; in reality, in 1580, the date around which the majority of cases cluster, about three fifths of the diocese's population lived the smaller communities.(62) In accordance with the urban bias of the sample, just under half of the defendants were engaged in agriculture. Yet, given Cuenca's importance as a textile-producing area and the large number of towns of over five hundred vecinos, the diocese probably supported more artisans and fewer farmers than did other areas of Spain.

The defendants were not typical in all respects, however. As one might expect, the converted religious minorities were over represented. [121] In 1570 there were perhaps five thousand moriscos in Cuenca out of a total population of some three hundred thousand, but 15 percent of the defendants were converted Muslims. These converts from Islam had been forcibly resettled in Cuenca and other parts of Castile following the Revolt of the Alpujarras in 1569. The exiles, in some cases ignorant of Castilian as well as Christianity, quickly became part of a hated underclass in the diocese.(63) Unfortunately, there are no estimates for the converso population of Cuenca, although it also would have formed a very small percentage of the total. Nobles were slightly underrepresented, and women were conspicuously absent, as only one defendant in five was female.(64)

In most outward respects, then, conquense defendants reflected the socioeconomic background of the general population. However, because these individuals were being tried for religious crimes, perhaps their religious knowledge and behavior were atypical of the population at large. Although this question can never be completely laid to rest, the following facts about the trials should be kept in mind. First, very few of the trials involved true cases of heresy; over half of the defendants were charged with blasphemy or bigamy or for making erroneous statements about sex, marriage, and celibacy. Church officials admitted that both blasphemy and fornication were common moral failures of the people; the Inquisition had acquired jurisdiction over the so-called fornicarios as one part of a wider societal effort to change sexual mores. On the whole, the inquisitors themselves did not believe the defendants had committed serious crimes. In the end, 16 percent of the defendants studied were absolved of guilt or had their trials suspended for lack of evidence, and another 11 percent received reprimands, the lightest sentence. Well over half (59 percent) of defendants were allowed to abjure "without strong suspicion of heresy." Just 9 percent were reconciled with the church, a sentence reserved for those who fell into a formal heresy such as Judaizing or Lutheranism. Fewer than 2 percent were relaxed.(65)

After the inquisitors took the defendant's genealogy, they asked him to bless and cross himself, saying as he did so the correct formulae. The defendant would then recite in succession the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary, the Salve Regina (Queen in Heaven), and the Creed. These were the basic prayers. In the 1570s, as the church raised requirements concerning indoctrination, the inquisitors expanded their routine questioning to include at least the Ten Commandments and sometimes the Fourteen Articles of Faith and the Confiteor. Of course, if a defendant [122] knew additional prayers, the inquisitors heard those as well. Most frequently known of the additional "prayers" were the Seven Deadly Sins and the Five Commandments of the Church.(66) While the defendant recited his prayers, the court's secretary evaluated his effort. He noted how well the defendant said each prayer, the actual form of the prayer (in verse, Spanish or Latin) and the reo's attitude while he prayed (frightened, tearful, pious, etc.).

The sustained pressure over the sixteenth century to teach Christian doctrine paid off in results that, thanks to the Inquisition's vigilance, can be measured with a great deal of accuracy. Between 1544 and 1661 the men and women of Cuenca exhibited remarkable improvement in their knowledge of the church's basic prayers. Catechization took place successfully at all levels of Old Christian society and among all age groups. It would prove less effective in reaching the diocese's morisco population, a fact which no doubt served to convince conquenses that this minority never would be assimilated into the Christian population.

Medieval catechical practice favored teaching the Christian prayers in Latin, despite the fact that most people did not know the language. After a lifetime of attempting to change society by teaching the Christian doctrine, at the Council of Trent Juan de Avila ridiculed the idea that the prayers should be taught in a language that common people could not understand. Avila recalled that, after all, when God was on earth, he spoke to the people in their native tongue. Latin might sound more majestic to those who were accustomed to hearing the prayers in that language, but one must not forget the most important thing: the catechism's potential for shaping behavior. "These prayers are not simply words for petitioning [God]," wrote Avila, " but doctrine for building good customs. Obviously, for a man to say 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven' and 'Lead us not into temptation' or 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us' will have a different impact on him than saying it without understanding it."(67) Avila clearly was not alone in his view. Over the century, in Cuenca the language of doctrinal instruction changed from a mixture of Latin and Spanish to Spanish alone. By the time the inquisitors began to note consistently in which language the catechism was recited, Latin already had lost considerable ground and was declining fast (see table 4.2).


Table 4.2: Decline of Latin in the Christian Doctrine, 1568-1661


   
% of People
Reciting in Latin
 
 
1568-79
1580-89
1590-1609
1610-61
Pater Noster
28
13
7
4
Ave Maria
27
11
7
4
Salve Regina
22
10
8
3
Credo
19
7
5
2
Decalogue
6
4
1
0
Articles of Faith
4
4
1
0
Confiteor
2
0
0
3


Given the goal of shaping behavior through indoctrination, instruction in Spanish was more important for some portions of the catechism than for others. The Ten Commandments, the basis of both divine and [123] human law and the sinner's moral slate against which to examine his conscience, were almost always taught in Spanish.(68) Similarly, one could hardly hope for a good confession from someone who did not know how to express contrition and call on God and the saints for help. The Fourteen Articles of Faith were a relatively lengthy listing of the divine and human attributes of God that incorporated much of the Creed, useful for grounding a Catholic's faith at a time when the divinity of Jesus was being challenged by the Protestants.

Once all 812 defendants' performances have been noted, there are several ways to chart the overall improvement in doctrinal knowledge that took place from 1544 to 1661. One is to ask what percentage of conquenses knew by heart the basic four to five prayers of the Christian Doctrine at any given time (see graph 4.1). In the twenty-four year period 1544-67, only one-third of conquenses could respond perfectly to the Inquisition's request. During the next twelve years, from 1568 to 1579, this number had doubled. Improvement continued during the next ten years, 1580-89; by the end of this decade, both the catechization program and the reform of the clergy had been underway for a generation. During this decade, 80 percent of defendants knew their prayers. The next twenty years, however, witnessed a small setback, perhaps on account of the social crisis of these plague years. Eventually, the campaign recovered, and during last time period, 1610-61, the high levels of the late sixteenth century were surpassed.(69)






These overall figures obscure regional differences in the catechization program and its impact on Cuenca's different social groups. The [124] point of the programs had been to bring doctrine to the rural and poor people of the diocese, who in the past, because of the negligence of their priests and the lack of free schooling, had been denied the knowledge they needed for their salvation. Sure enough, when the inquisitors first began asking defendants for their prayers, they discovered a shocking gap in religious preparation between wealthy and poor persons (see table 4.1). In 1544-67, 69 percent of the wealthiest and better- educated defendants knew their prayers compared with only 19 percent of farmers and day laborers. In one generation, however, the disparity had been erased: in the period 1580-89, 96 percent of the wealthier defendants could now say their prayers, but 89 percent of the farmers could do so as well. Between 1544 and 1589 all social groups showed marked improvement in their catechism.(70)

Geographically, even though every region and community saw improvement, the catechization campaign progressed at different rates. [125] The region in which conquenses happened to live at first made a significant difference in the degree of their catechization. Defendants from La Mancha and La Alcarria, with their larger communities and denser clerical population (see map 2), initially showed higher levels of doctrinal knowledge than persons from the Serranía, the isolated, mountainous region to the north and east of the city of Cuenca. Church administrators must have poured extra effort into evangelizing the Serranía, for defendants from those communities soon surpassed those from the more advantaged Alcarría and La Mancha -- until 1590-1609, when catechism scores plummeted. As the Serranía suffered the worst depopulation after 1591, the wrenching dislocation of the area's population seems to be reflected in a temporary decline in catechism instruction. Later in the seventeenth century, however, the Serranía's residents regained their former high level of catechization.(71)

No matter in which district conquenses lived, the success of the catechization was closely related to community size. All over the diocese, hamlets (communities under one hundred households) and urban centers (over one thousand households) scored the lowest in catechismal instruction. In the large towns and the cities, the overall poorer performance was only partly due to the presence of the moriscos; when they are removed from the sample, the large communities continue to lag behind the diocese's towns (see table 4.3). If one controls for occupational group, community size still was an important factor in catechization for most groups. For example, only 58 percent of the labradores who lived in hamlets achieved proficiency in their prayers, while 89 percent of those who lived in small towns learned theirs (see Appendix 4). Although hamlets and urban centers lagged significantly behind the [126] diocese's towns, overall only one quarter of the diocese's population lived in them. In the end, the catechization program was most successful precisely where it had to be, where the large majority of the diocese's population resided.


Table 4.3: Catechism Scores, by Community Size, 1544-1661


Community Size
                 % of
Perfect Scores
 
(Households)
All Defendants
Minus Moriscos
% of Diocescan 
Population, 1591
1-99
55
59
13
100-299
79
78
30
300-499
84
85
17
500-999
72
74
27
1,000+
58
61
13


Further evidence of the effectiveness of indoctrination programs that swept Castile was the fact that on the whole, women learned their prayers just as well as did men, and the illiterate did not lag too far behind the well-educated. This was a remarkable achievement, particularly as nearly all women were excluded from schooling.(72) For them, indoctrination had to take place at home, in Sunday school, or perhaps at the marketplace and was completely oral. Women in the city of Cuenca could ask blind Miguel de la Iglesia to teach them their prayers right on the street; by 1560 he had been earning his living in just that fashion for fifteen years.(73) Or women could share their knowledge. In 1574, Quitería Sainz, from the small town of Cañada del Hoyo, proposed to teach the Ten Commandments to those of her women friends who did not know them.(74) In one case, a converso family did not want to teach the Christian prayers to their child, María de Mora, so they sent her to school with her brothers to learn them there, but she still was not taught how to read or write.(75) Despite women's exclusion from formal education, prayer recitations among men and women were virtually the same. Overall, 49 percent of the men and 52 percent of the women learned their basic prayers by heart. Men and women were motivated in equal numbers (20 and 22 percent respectively) to learn an additional prayer or two beyond the four to five traditionally required by the church. Conversely, 10 percent of the men and 12 percent of the women were unable to mutter more than a few words of some prayers. Whatever obstacles Castilian society placed in front of women, religious indoctrination and, ultimately, access to heaven were not among them.

As implied by the success of women, the catechization program appeared to rise to the challenge of oral instruction for the diocese's illiterate population. Because the inquisitors established defendants' ability to read at the same time they recorded how well subjects recited their prayers, it is possible to trace more precisely the different degree of catechization among the diocese's educated and illiterate subjects (see table 4.4). Literate defendants obviously had the advantage: primers were based on the prayers of the catechism. Thus, individuals who stated they could read and write consistently scored higher than the illiterate; but as was the case with class differences (which would include education), [127] the gap between literate and illiterate defendants narrowed over time, so that by the seventeenth century only ten percentage points separated the two groups.


Table 4.4: Proficiency in Prayers, by Literacy Level, 1544-1661
Men and Women (in percent)
 
Illiterate
Reads Only
Reads and Writes
1544-1579 (n=143)
(n=84)
(n=24)
(n=35)
     Basic proficiency
36
29
60
     Extra prayers
19
29
23
          Total proficient
55
58
83
1580-1589 (n=253)
(n=157)
(n=40)
(n=56)
     Basic proficiency
59
80
75
     Extra prayers
15
13
20
          Total proficient
74
93
95
1590-1609 (n=100)
(n=56)
(n=16)
(n=28)
     Basic proficiency
54
50
79
     Extra prayers
 9
25
18
          Total proficient
63
75
97
1610-1661 (n=142)
(n=79)
(n=19)
(n=44)
     Basic proficiency
34
37
27
     Extra prayers
49
58
66
          Total proficient
83
95
93

While women as a whole learned their Christian doctrine as well as did the men, and the illiterate eventually almost caught up with the literate, the catechization program was not successful among Cuenca's morisco minority. The truth of the matter was that the catechism was for all Old Christians and those who wanted to pass for such. The dominant Christian society of Castile demanded that the converted religious minorities, the Muslims and Jews, participate wholeheartedly in the life of the church as proof of their integration into Christian society. For all concerned, this demand was easier to make than to fulfill, particularly with regard to the moriscos. The Old Christians' suspicion of and disdain for the moriscos, added to the minority's own reluctance to give up its culture, spelled the ultimate failure of all attempts to [128] tianize and absorb the minority.(76) That failure is seen clearly in the catechization program.

The moriscos of Cuenca comprised two groups, the "old" moriscos and the new. A very small number of mudéjares were living in Cuenca at the time the national edict of conversion was pronounced in 1502. These Muslims had long been isolated from the centers of Hispano-Islamic culture and knew little about their religion. Some moriscos from Cuenca were caught traveling to Valencia, where there was a large and vigorous Islamic society, to receive teaching and books.(77) The forced resettlement of five thousand Grenadine moriscos in the bishopric of Cuenca and the priory of Uclés late in 1570 suddenly created a "morisco problem" in the area. Although the crown had intended to disperse the new arrivals in small numbers throughout the diocese, the resettlement program stalled.(78) In 1581 only seventy-one moriscos were settled in groups of ten or less in twenty-two villages and towns of the diocese. Thirteen towns had been assigned anywhere from thirty-one to one hundred persons, and six towns were home to one hundred moriscos or more.(79)

The concentrations of morisco families, who for all intents and purposes were foreigners in hostile communities, could only lead to conflict and slow down their assimilation. Although one disciple of Juan de Avila, Maestro Hernando de Vargas, left his prebend in Granada to preach to the moriscos in Utiel, parish priests were reluctant to treat these new Christians as bona fide members of their parishes.(80) For their part, the Grenadine moriscos, who were primarily impoverished day laborers or even slaves, resisted assimilation into the surrounding Christian culture which sought to oppress them. Their resistance was aided by the precept of taqiyya, which taught that if it was necessary to survival, Muslims could feign conversion to another faith. In 1608 the fiscal of the Inquisition accused Isabel Liñán of "having committed a great number of sacrileges every time she had communed and confessed...confessing and taking communion merely for exterior compliance and to excuse her apostasy with the appearance of a Christian."(81) In the unusual case that individuals wished to conform, their poverty certainly would have hindered their efforts, just as poorer Old Christians had proven slower to learn their prayers. Even Cuenca's former mudéjar population, which had little knowledge of its ancestral language, religion, and culture, confounded the diocese. Reluctantly they conformed, but they clung to the attitude that they would rather be Moorish if given the chance.(82) The moriscos' resentment of the Catholics, together with [129] attempts to preserve their identity, translated into rejection of the Christian catechism and, of course, of all other Christian ceremonies and practices as well. On the average, only 54 percent of moriscos could recite the essential Christian prayers in their entirety, compared to 71 percent of Old Christians.

In contrast to the moriscos, many of the conversos tried by the Inquisition had reacted to persecution by overcompensating for the Christian ancestry they lacked.(83) They adopted all the trappings of good Christian conduct, and many in fact became sincere Catholics. Some expressed that conversion by striving to become more Christian than their neighbors, and, unlike the impoverished moriscos, the conquense conversos had the wealth to support their faith. Among the defendants, the conversos were the wealthiest of the three ethnic groups: one-third of those whose occupations are known were merchants, professionals, or rentiers, and another 14 percent were labradores, while virtually none were day laborers or servants. With their wealth, these conversos had access to religious education, bought indulgences, and acquired devotional books. In their indoctrination, conversos scored the highest of all groups, 78 percent having learned their catechism perfectly. Appearing to be or actually being devout came easier with money. Hence, insincere conversos were far more successful than the moriscos in escaping the notice of those on the lookout for un-Catholic behavior. The Inquisition could only break into crypto-Jewish enclaves by the chance uncovering of a family and systematically extracting confessions and denunciations from all of its members. In dealing with these families, the inquisitors found that the defendants, among other things, were well-instructed in their prayers -- as well as or better so than their Old Christian neighbors.

Towards Practicing Catholics

Most conquenses may have learned their prayers to perfection, but the church's designs for them did not end there. Although educators somewhat idealistically believed that knowing the catechism by itself would change behavior, authorities preferred action as well as words.(84) In the scheme of the reformed church, annual confession at Eastertide was the most important of a Christian's obligations. Although annual confession had been required since 1215, medieval Christians made public, not private, confessions in front of their parish and worried primarily about the satisfaction they had to make to their community. [130] By contrast, the modern Catholic had to acquire a more personal understanding of the sacrament, as well as a more abstract idea of sin based on the Decalogue. This could only be done by frequent confession, complemented by regular attendance at mass and communion. In the long term, these demands had a far greater potential to change underlying patterns of belief and behavior than did the simple memorization of formulae.(85)

With the information given in the inquisitorial interviews, it is possible to gain an approximate idea of the church's success in enforcing its basic precepts. The inquisitors asked defendants four questions concerning their religious practices: (1) whether they attended mass on Sundays and holidays; (2) when they had last gone to confession; (3) with whom they had confessed; and (4) whether they bought indulgences or general pardons known as jubilees. Since going to confession was meaningless if one knew neither what was a sin nor how to confess it, in order to see how well defendants were trained to examine their consciences, after 1570 inquisitors also asked defendants to recite the Ten Commandments and sometimes the General Confession. No doubt defendants were anxious to make a favorable impression on the inquisitors and were tempted to exaggerate their churchgoing and confessional habits. But the information was given under oath and easily could be verified, so defendants gave relatively accurate answers.

Beyond the basic hurdle of getting people to admit to their sins, authorities faced two problems in persuading conquenses to confess: parishioners had to know how to confess, and they had to make their confession to the parish priest. Neither concern was entirely new. The secular clergy had been engaged in a long struggle to reclaim its pastoral role from the mendicants. Confession was a prominent aspect of their rivalry. In 1531, Bishop Ramírez had ordered parish boundaries to be drawn so that curas could keep better track of communicants. He had also ordered conquenses to confess with their parish priests at Easter.(86) By the period 1564-80 there was some improvement. Seventy-five percent of the defendants claimed that they had confessed at Easter, certainly a success for the church. But what was distressing was that slightly less than half knew the Ten Commandments, and only one in five knew the Confiteor. What was worse, only one third of those confessions were heard by the cura or his assistant, while the rest were heard by friars. If conquenses were voting with their consciences, their choice was plain [131] to see: they did not know how to define sin and they did not trust their parish priests.

The next twenty years, however, showed a remarkable reversal. In 1581-1600, 60 percent of defendants could recite the Ten Commandments in Spanish, and two-thirds reported that they had confessed with their parish priests. Whether they did so willingly probably will never be known. The fact remains that the secular clergy successfully asserted its control over all aspects of conquenses' religious lives: baptism, marriage (thanks to Trent), last rites, and now confession were all under the supervision of parish priests. Even in death, unless there was a local monastery, the parish claimed the mortal remains, and the priests, not friars, chanted the memorial masses and the prayers for the souls in purgatory.(87)

The church had successfully taught conquenses their prayers and had reclaimed their allegiance. But that was not enough. Conquenses had to become better Catholics by also undertaking more works that signified their good faith. For most, this meant attending mass and observing the calendar of feast and fast days. In the years following Trent, the defendants interviewed by the Inquisition indicated that they did become more punctual in fulfilling their Christian duties. Although figures for attendance at mass were already high during the period 1564-80, they were to become higher. In the period 1564-80 approximately three-quarters of defendants swore that they attended mass and observed sabbaths and holidays when required to do so by the church. Another ten percent mentioned that they attended mass or confession or bought indulgences more frequently than necessary. Only 15 percent admitted to missing an occasional mass, or less frequently, to not confessing that year. In the next generation, from 1581 to 1600, the conquense church was able to achieve an even higher degree of conformity from its members (85 percent minimum compliance), and only a tiny minority persisted in avoiding church.

Perhaps with defendants' claiming such high overall compliance, one might think that little variation in confessional behavior existed between Cuenca's different social and ethnic groups. A second look at defendants' statements, however, reveals that real differences existed between groups. Women tended to attend mass or to confess more frequently than necessary, but more men bought indulgences. Overall, Old Christians were markedly more observant than either conversos or moriscos (16 percent of Old Christians but only 6 percent of both conversos and moriscos claimed to be extra-observant). Among Old [132] Christians, elites (nobles, rentiers, merchants, and professionals) were by far more observant than any other and displayed a clear preference for the spiritual guidance of friars, who were perceived to be holier and, through patronage, were closely linked to the upper classes. Labradores were the second-most observant group but showed the most loyalty to their parish priests, although this in part could be a function of residence (see table 4.5).


Table 4.5: Old Christians Ranked by Compliance with the Church's Precepts
 
Ebates
 
Labradores
 
Artisans
 
Day
Laborers
 
 
Rank
%
Rank
%
 Rank
 %
Rank 
 %
A. Buys Indulgences,
attends mass, or confesses often
1
28
2
14
3
11
3
11
B. Admits to missing mass or
confession
2
6
4
2
3
6
1
9
C. Confesses exclusively with friars
1
48
3
30
2
33
3
30
D. Confesses exclusively with priests
4
44
1
68
3
51
2
65


In the years following the promulgation of the Council of Trent, after a generation of persuasion and enforcement the people of Cuenca were taught their prayers. Most individuals also learned how to conform to the church's basic precepts. In other words, for the first time in the history of the church, the majority of lay men and women in one region became practicing Catholics. It is difficult to imagine the scale of the mobilization of forces from the monarchy down to the parishes that was necessary to bring a largely rural and illiterate population under the effective control of one institution, itself now nationalized. The programs described in this chapter were not unique to Cuenca but were applied successfully to neighboring Toledo and doubtless to other central Castilian bishoprics as well. The catechization program and imposition of a parochial system of individual worship represents not only the first [133] and most important triumph of the Tridentine church, which sought to hierarchize and unify Catholic worship, but also the success of a national church and its centralized policy.

The element of control should not be overemphasized, however: the catechization program worked because it struck a responsive chord among the people of Cuenca. Among the moriscos, who were hostile to missionary efforts, little progress was made. Along with their prayers, conquenses must have imbibed other attitudes and beliefs that do not show up in the Inquisition's records. The success of the catechism campaign, therefore, should be taken as emblematic of other changes taking place in the religious life of Castile that cannot easily be observed, at least in the antagonistic setting of the inquisitor's courtroom. After the catechism recitation, the defendants' trials began in earnest. To find where the reformation bore its deepest fruit, the secret proceedings of the Holy Office now must be exchanged for the public records of Cuenca's notaries and priests, and the courtroom abandoned for the parish church and local monastery.


Notes to Chapter Four.

1. ADC, Inq., leg. 206, exps. 2345, 206, 2355 (1556). Juan said he had acquired the primer in order to teach himself the catechism. It was not unusual for the inquisitors to order ignorant defendants to learn their prayers.

2. G. Strauss, Luther's House of Learning, and P. F. Grendler, Schooling in Renaissance Italy, are two of the best-known works on this subject. Strauss remarks, "Both sides regarded the catechism as the best medium for propagating the right religion, the only feasible method of mass indoctrination, the most reliable shield of orthodoxy, and the most efficient agent of uniformity" (172).

3. See L. de Granada, Memorial de la vida cristiana, treatise 5, "De la oración vocal" in Obras, 6, pt. 3:304 and passim.

4. A brief introduction to sixteenth-century catechisms, focusing on Juan de Avila's work, is the article by A. Huerga, "Sobre la catequesis en España durante los siglos XV-XVI." See also J.-R. Guerrero, Catecismos españoles del siglo XVI; and J. Sánchez Herrero, "La literatura catequética en la Península Ibérica, 1236-1553," En la España medieval 5, pt. 2 (1986): 1051-1115.

5. L. Stone, "Literacy and Education in England, 1640-1900," Past and Present, no. 42 (1969): 78-81, provides a brief introduction to the differences between Protestant and Catholic approaches to education.

6. See Grendler, Schooling in Renaissance Italy, 332-39.

7. J. Sánchez Herrera, "La enseñanza de la doctrina cristiana...," 150. The minimum was soon enlarged to include the Seven Theological and Cardinal Virtues and the Acts of Mercy.

8. Ibid., 156-59.

9. ACC, "Estatutos de la Santa Iglesia de Cuenca," fols. 43-45, constitutions ordered by Don Bernardo, 1364. The constitutions explained in detail the Seven Sacraments, and gave in Spanish, so people could learn them, the Fourteen Articles of Faith and Ten Commandments.

10. BL, IB 53403, Burgos, CS, fols. 1v, 4, 12r. Since Burgos made separate provisions for girls to attend mass, one assumes that by "niños" he meant boys only.

11. Ramírez de Villaescusa, CS, fol. 2v. The oraciones dominicales were the Lord's Prayer, Hail Mary, Queen in Heaven, and Creed. Ramírez's orders were unusually gender-specific here, emphasizing the equal responsibility of both sexes to teach and learn the catechism. There are many similarities between Ramírez's statutes and those adopted in Cordova (1521), Toledo (1536), and Pamplona (1548) (Goñi Gaztambide, Los navarros en el Concilio de Trento..., 154).

12. Fresneda, CS, fol. 3v.

13. Pacheco, CS, bk. I, title. 1; bk. 3, title 15, const. 2; and bk. 4, title 3, const. 1. Pamplona implemented similar orders in 1582 (Goñi Gaztambide, Los navarros en el Concilio de Trento..., 282).

14. During Riario's absentee episcopate, inspections in Castejón (where the earliest parish books survive) were infrequent and perfunctory (ADC, P-848).

15. ADC, P-1790, P-149, P-224, P-278 (parishes of Albalate de las Nogueras, San Martín [Cuenca], Santa Cruz [Cuenca], and Altarejos).

16. ADC, Inq., leg. 213, exp. 2563.

17. ADC, P-224 (Santa Cruz de Cuenca), fol. 138v. These orders are very similar to those given in 1580 to Protestant ministers in Saxony. See Strauss, Luther's House of Learning, 166-67.

18. ADC, Inq., leg. 256, exp. 3471 (1573). This statement was scandalous for two reasons: it suggested that Christ preferred Mary as a sinner, and it denied Jesus's descent from King David. However, the inquisitors took the statement in the spirit it was made. Calahorra received a private reprimand and was ordered to say three masses in front of Our Lady, asking for her forgiveness.

19. ADC, Inq., leg. 290, exp. 4075 (1579).

20. ADC, Inq., leg. 202, exp. 2293.

21. Pacheco, CS, bk. 3, title 14, const. 16.

22. See F. G. Olmedo's introduction to D. Vázquez, Sermones; and A. Redondo, Antonio de Guevara....

23. See esp. D. de Estella, Modo de predicar y Modus concionandi, ed. P. Sagüés Azcona, 2 vols. (Madrid, 1951), and the more famous work by L. de Granada, Los seis libros de la rhetórica eclesiástica o de la manera de predicar in Obras, 6, pt. 3.

24. Locally popular were Melchor de Huélamo's collections of his sermons, Espirituales discursos predicables (Cuenca, 1594, 1595, 1604) and Discursos predicables de las ceremonias y Misterios dela Misa del Misal Romano (Cuenca, 1600, 1605), which were meant to be used in the pulpit. Sermon collections were owned by both laymen and priests.

25. Dr. Carrión, who had been a preacher for thirty years, wrote that because he was a better preacher than Lcdo. Torres and the town preferred his sermons, Torres was envious of him and tried to twist his words (ADC, Inq., leg. 294B, exp. 4189). Lcdo. Guillames Mendoza demanded his honor back because "being cura as I am, it would be a great scandal if it got out that I say or teach anything that wasn't very Catholic, since I have always tried with all my might to teach simple and Catholic things" (leg. 279, exp. 3068). The worst case of professional jealously involved two canons at the cathedral, one of whom (Márquez del Prado) went on to join the Suprema and the other (González del Castillo) to become bishop of Calahorra. Márquez tried to sink González's career by attacking his preaching in many places, including the royal court (leg. 332, exp. 4736).

26. For example, on Saint Ann's Day, the residents of Carrascosa de Campo held a procession and bull fights, and "the most learned preacher that can be found is chosen to speak" (cited in W. Christian, Local Religion in Sixteenth-Century Spain, 113).

27. ADC, C.E. leg. 747, no. 310.

28. ADC Inq., leg. 243, exp. 2560 (1558). The trial was suspended.

29. ADC, Inq., leg. 207, exp. 2372 (1557). This is the same Narváez who was denounced in 1559 for telling jokes in the pulpit and for being a converso (Chapter 2). He would get into trouble a third time in 1567 for telling a joke about kosher (leg. 240, exps. 3138, 3141).

30. J. Goñi Gaztambide, Historia de la bula de la cruzada.... An idea of the indulgences' popularity can be gained from the fact that in 1579, 4,317 bulas at two reales each were sold in the city of Cuenca, which at that time had about 3,265 vecinos. Two years later, 4,785 were sold! (AMC, leg. 1524, exp. 7 and 9).

31. ADC, Inq. leg. 233, exp. 2979.

32. ADC, Inq., leg. 225, exp. 2785 (1562). The statement was classified as a "false, injurious, and irreverent proposition" and Ayora was reprimanded in court. The hucksterism of indulgence selling was satirized brilliantly in Lazarillo de Tormes, first published in 1554 and soon censored in 1559. Goñi writes that the merchandizing of the bulls became so loathsome that the worst insult one could give to a preacher was to call him an indulgence seller (Historia de la bula de la cruzada..., 516).

33. E.g., Constituciones del arçobispado de Toledo: e la tabla de lo que han de enseñar a los niños (Salamanca, 1488), 4o, 24 fols.; and Luis de Salazar, El credo el pater noster la salve... (Toledo, 1499?), 4o, 6 fols. See also, Doctrina cristiana (Seville, 1493) 8o, 8 fols.; and Jaume de Erla, Doctrina coz los pares deven criar los fils (Valencia, 1498), 4o, 23 fols.

34. A. Domínguez Ortiz and B. Vincent, Historia de los moriscos, 97-98.

35. L. Sala Balust, intro. to J. de Avila, Obras completas, 1:32.

36. Flynn, Sacred Charity, 124; personal communication from M. E. Perry.

37. Juan de Avila, Avisos y reglas cristianas, ed. L. Sala Balust (Barcelona, 1963), 15. The earliest printing seems to have been in Valencia, 1554, as IHS. Doctrina christiana que se canta, Oydnos vos por amor de Dios. Hoy añadido de nuevo el Rosario de nra. señora: y vna instruccion muy necessaria ansi para los niños como los mayores, in 24o, 24 fols. (my thanks to W. Christian for this reference and those from the Litterae Quadrimestres that follow.) An early example of a sung catechism-cum-primer is Cartilla para enseñar a los niños. Con la doctrina cristiana que se canta Amados hermanos. Agora de nuevo examinado, corregida, y emendado (N.p., 15-?).

38. The Autobiography of St. Ignatius Loyola, ed. J. C. Olin, 83, 108; Grendler, Schooling in Renaissance Italy, 335-36.

39. LQ 3: 434-35. The town is unnamed. The next year, 1556, several canons asked the Jesuits to preach in their parishes, but they had to refuse all of the requests, except that from Vergara, the one man they could not turn down (LQ 4:202).

40. Description of Gandía, 31 Aug. 1554, LQ, 3:89. See also, LQ, 1:16; 3:169-72, 429-35; 7:130. On the Jesuits' indoctrinating activities in Belmonte, Pedro Sevillano wrote in 1560: "The children always gather nicely in the streets, and they are taught the catechism in our church, since there was a great need for it in this town"(LQ, 6:560). These are the same methods as used in early Jesuit missions in southern Italy (Grendler, Schooling in Renaissance Italy, 363-71).

41. LQ, 6:949. Xuárez noted that they found that the priests in the towns they visited were also "sticking to" rounding up the children and catechizing them.

42. AMC, Actas, leg. 256, fols. 433r-434r (15 Jan. 1577); ADC, Inq. leg. 445, exp. 6234.

43. F. M. de Arabio-Urrutia, "Observaciones de un español del siglo XVI acerca de la instrucción religiosa y preservación moral de los niños," Ciudad de Dios 113 (1918): 189-95.

44. K. Wagner, "Los maestros Gil de Fuentes y Alonso de Escobar y el círculo de 'luteranos' de Sevilla," Hispania Sacra 28 (1975): 241-42; Bilinkoff, The Avila of Saint Teresa, 86.

45. B. Bennassar, Valladolid en el siglo de oro, 410; G. Mora del Pozo, El Colegio de Doctrinos, 75 (see also L. Martz, Poverty and Welfare in Habsburg Spain); and A. Rodríguez-Moñino, intro. to J. López de Ubeda, Cancionero general de la Doctrina cristiana (Madrid, 1962), 9. There was also a school in Madrid (personal communication from C. Sieber).

46. AMC, L-1517, exp. 5.

47. The city of Toledo regularly gave its niños 500 ducats a year (Mora del Pozo, El Colegio de Doctrinos..., 78; those in Valladolid sometimes received as much as 800 ducats (Bennassar, Valladolid en el siglo de oro, 410). The only reference in Cuenca to municipal assistance is for 4,000 maravedis (about ten ducats) in 1620 (AMC, L-247, fol. 8r).

48. ADC, Inq., leg. 343, exp. 4872. The individuals, condemned for Judaizing, had been sentenced to wear sanbenitos and endure perpetual arrest, which often meant confinement to one's hometown.

49. AHPC, P-753, fols. 216r-219v.

50. AMC, Actas, leg. 268, fol. 311 (9 Feb. 1629). In 1655 the niños were given the monopoly of the city's theater for their maintenance (Sanz y Díaz, Reseña cronológica de algunos documentos..., no. 1116).

51. On the practices and goals of primary school teachers, see Kagan, Students and Society in Early Modern Spain, 9-14. For an overview of the impact of increased literacy in Castile, see Nalle, "Literacy and Culture in Early Modern Castile."

52. A very early example is H. de Talavera, Cartilla y doctrina en romançe para enseñar niños a leer (Granada, 1508; Salamanca, ca. 1508; Seville, ca. 1512). These elementary cartillas should not be confused with the book-length catechisms written by many different authors in the sixteenth century (see Guerrero, Catecismos españoles del siglo XVI).

53. A. Blanco Sánchez, "Inventario de Juan de Ayala." More specifically, the shop had 17,041 cartillas of all types and 55,959 religious pamphlets. The population of Toledo in 1561 was 11,252 vecinos.

54. AHPC, P-226, fols. 366r-374v (1545). Saint Cyprian's prayers and the Testament of Our Lord were put on the Index in 1581 and 1559, respectively (A. Vílchez Díaz, Autores y anónimos españoles en los Indices inquisitoriales [Madrid, 1986], nos. 1092, 1104). The grammar, published in 1539, was by Luis de Pastrana (A. Rodríguez-Moñino, "La imprenta en Cuenca," in Curiosidades bibliográficas [Madrid, 1946], 147-76).

55. The full title in Spanish reads as follows: Cartilla: y doctrina christiana: para que deprendan los niños: y avn las otras personas no bien instructas en las cosas de nuestra sancta fe catholica. En la qual breuemente se contiene todo lo que el christiano es obligado a saber, creer, y obrar, y de lo que se deue apartar para no peccar.

56. This cartilla was quite similar in organization and tone to the Summario used in Italian schools of Christian doctrine. Grendler points out the marked contrast between the organization of Italian catechisms and that of Lutheran catechisms, each reinforcing separate social ideals. The Lutheran catechisms "emphasized respect for authority and good social conduct more than the books of Christian doctrine," while Italian (and Spanish) catechisms started with prayer, emphasized good works, and assumed one had faith (Grendler, Schooling in Renaissance Italy, 352).

57. ADC, Inq., L-221, fol. 133 (carta acordada dated 12 Nov. 1592). The cartilla is preserved as leg. 819, exp. 7946, with the defective pages removed.

58. ADC, Inq. L-221, fol. 72 (carta acordada dated 13 June 1577). The offending part of the cartilla concerned the "castigo y doctrina de Caton," a common school tract. The notice to the city's booksellers and schoolmasters went out on 6 July.

59. Jiménez Monteserín, ed., Introducción a la Inquisición española, 204-6 (Fernando de Valdés, Instrucciones).

60. Ibid., 398-401 (Pablo García, Orden...de procesar). The last question concerning books does not appear in the printed instructions. There is good reason to believe that García worked for the conquense tribunal from 1563 to 1574. In any case, the changes in procedure may be observed directly in the trials.

61. See Salomon, La vida rural castellana en tiempos de Felipe II; J. Gentil da Silva, Desarrollo económico, subsistencia y decadencia en España (Madrid, 1967); and J. López-Salazar Pérez, Estructuras agrarias y sociedad rural.

62. The population estimates for 1580 are based on the diocesan visitation of 1579-81 (ADC, L-202, "Libro de la visita del partido de la Mancha," and L-203, "Libro de la visita del partido de la Sierra").

63. M. García Arenal, Inquisición y moriscos, 13-17. García finds "excessive" Corchado's estimate that 10 percent of La Mancha was morisco in the sixteenth century (M. Corchado Soriano, "La Mancha en el siglo XVI").

64. According to the census of 1591, the hidalgo population of Cuenca stood at approximately 3 percent (AGS, Dir. Genl. Tesoro, Leg. 1301. See also A. Moliné Bertrand, "Les 'hidalgos' dans le royaume de Castille à la fin du XVIe siècle. Approche cartographique," Revue d'Histoire Economique et Sociale, 52 [1974]: 51-82).

65. In the remaining 3 percent of trials, no decision was reached or the decision was missing.

66. Prayers were learned with varying degrees of proficiency. The overall "popularity" of prayers in Cuenca was as follows: Ave María (82 percent perfect recitations), Pater Noster (81 percent), Decalogue (76 percent), Creed (73 percent), Salve Regina (67 percent), and Fourteen Articles of Faith (57 percent).

67. A. Huerga, "Sobre la catequesis en España durante los siglos XV-XVI," 314-15 (Second Memorial for the Council of Trent, 1561).

68. The medieval preference was to teach the Seven Deadly Sins; the Ten Commandments were not popularized until the late Middle Ages. The success of the switch in moral codes is clearly seen in Cuenca, where few people could name the Seven Deadly Sins, but most were able to recite the Decalogue (see J. Bossy, Christianity in the West, 35-38).

69. J.-P. Dedieu's results for Toledo are remarkably similar even though he worked only with men accused of lesser crimes and with two general occupational groups, agriculturalists and artisans. Before 1550, only 40 percent of the defendants knew their prayers. Circa 1575, 70 percent knew them, and by 1600, over 80 percent had learned the catechism. As was the case in Cuenca, the age of the defendant was not a factor in catechization, which was aimed at adults and children both ("'Christianisation' en Nouvelle Castille," 277). Interestingly, Dedieu also found that performance slipped somewhat in the last years of the sixteenth century, but attributed the finding to problems with his sample.

70. See Appendix 4 for overall figures by specific occupational groups.

71. The diocese's urban centers (over one thousand vecinos) were excluded from the analysis of regional differences. Although every district scored higher when moriscos were removed from the sample, regional rankings remained unaffected, despite the fact that most moriscos resided in La Mancha.

72. See Nalle, "Literacy and Culture in Early Modern Castile," 71.

73. Inq., leg. 218, exp. 2673. Reciting prayers for a fee was a common occupation of the blind in Castile. Usually they specialized in prayers that doubled as spells and sold printed versions of them for a few coins. De la Iglesia's catechizing activities are an interesting variation on the theme. For a scathing portrait of one blind reciter of spells and women's superstitious attachment to them, see Lazarillo de Tormes. In modern Spain, which has the oldest European lottery, dating back to the late eighteenth century, the blind still sell lottery tickets on the streets. An ironic continuation of a tradition! See also, J.-F. Botrel, "Les aveugles colporteurs d'imprimés en Espagne," MCV, 9 (1973): 417-82.

74. ADC, Inq., leg. 259, exp. 3546.

75. Ibid., Inq., leg. 313, exp. 4549.

76. See L. Cardillac, Moriscos y cristianos, 32-42; and Monter, Frontiers of Heresy, 209-30.

77. Cardillac, Moriscos y cristianos, 72.

78. Carrasco, "Morisques anciens et nouveaux morisques..." MCV 22 (1986):211. The moriscos remigrated to the seigniorial towns of the diocese, where they were attracted by "sensible lords."

79. M. García-Arenal, "Los moriscos de la región de Cuenca según los censos establecidos por la Inquisición de Cuenca en 1589 y 1594," Hispania 138 (1978), 195-97.

80. G. González Dávila, Teatro eclesiástico...., 1: 443; Pacheco, CS, bk. 3, title 13, const. 10, "Instruccion de Visitadores": "We are informed that many curas in our bishopric do not count as parishioners the new Christians who came from the kingdom of Granada, and are careless in fulfilling what they are ordered to do for them"

81. Cardillac, Moriscos y cristianos, 89.

82. García-Arenal, Inquisición y moriscos, 87-91.

83. Native Castilian conversos should be distinguished from New Christian immigrants from Portugal, who entered the region in the seventeenth century. Because of historical differences in their treatment, the Portuguese New Christians preserved much more of their Jewish heritage. In Toledo and Valencia, as in Cuenca, native-born conversos seem to have been quite assimilated by the end of the sixteenth century (Dedieu,L'administration de la foi, 31-32; Haliczer, Inquisition and Society in the Kingdom of Valencia, 223; and R. Carrasco, "Preludio al 'siglo de los portugueses': La inquisición de Cuenca y los judaizantes lusitanos en el siglo XVI," Hispania Sacra 47 [1987]: 503-59).

84. Historians sometimes question whether uneducated people understood what they memorized of the catechism. Pablo Hornillo's comment throws an interesting light on the problem. A farmer from Fuentes, he and some others were talking about the whipping someone had received as a fornicario. Pablo said, "Even if [the fornicario] knew nothing but the commandments, he'd know it was a sin"; thus, as far as Pablo was concerned, the Ten Commandments did provide a minimum of moral instruction (ADC, Inq., leg. 297, exp. 4243 [1583]).

85. See Bossy, Christianity in the West, chap. 2; and J. Zarco Cuevas, España y la Comunión frecuente y diaria en los siglos XVI y XVII: apuntes (El Escorial, 1912).

86. See Chapter 1.

87. See Chapter 6.