The Role of “Religion”

The apparently “Christian” culture of the people of Spain between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries left much to be desired, since both clergy and people were equally ignorant of basic essentials. “Religion” ended up (as in other parts of Europe) as an extension of social discourse rather than a system of faith; it was, in other words, what you did rather than what you believed. Religion was the center of village activity, of community feeling, and of armed conflict, Rather than being only a list of beliefs and practices laid down by the Church, it was very much more, the sum of inherited attitudes and rituals relating both to the invisible and the visible world. All sections of society, both in town and country, participated in the rituals, which on one hand determined leisure and work activity, and on the other hand assigned to people their roles and status within the community.

Henry Karen, The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision, 4th ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), p. 329. ISBN: 978-0-300-18051-0.

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