Church and State in Early Modern Spain

It has been a while now, but I’m back with hopefully a string of new podcasts.  First off, I have a small, on-location, observation about the relationship between church and state power in Spain.  This is a topic that has lots of depth to it, and this little intro only scratches the surface, but standing between the Cathedral of Madrid and the Royal Palace seemed like a good place to at least contemplate the symbolic relationship between those two institutions, something that Spain has dealt with in several ways over the last few hundred years.  Much of Spanish history over the last five hundred years has been competition between centralizing forces and centripetal forces pulling away from centralized power.  The church has always been part of this dynamic, but it would be wrong to see the church as one of the main centralizing force.  It has been used as a tool in that regard, certainly, but it is a tool with its own concerns and ideas that don’t always mesh with the purposes of state power (Certainly the Republicans in the Civil War wanted both a central state, and to virtually remove the church from public life.)

This is a short podcast, so I think it’s just enough time to eat a nice plate of Patatas Bravas, one of the ubiquitous dishes served in Spanish restaurants (both in separatist and nationalist provinces alike.)  Although the potato and the tomato for the sauce didn’t enter European cuisine until most of the way through the 16th century (Ferdinand and Isabella most certainly never ate a plate of Bravas), it is now foundational in the food of many European countries, from France to Ireland, Germany, England, and even Spain.  The dish is a common bar food dish and the brava sauce sometimes tastes like a slightly zippy ketchup and sometimes offers a surprisingly fiery compliment to a dollop of mayonnaise.  Personally, I prefer the spicey stuff alongside a good dose of mayonnaise for each potato.



There are dozens and dozens of books on the inquisition, so I don’t have a specific one to start with.  Here’s a decent introduction to Ferdinand and Isabella…

John Edwards, The Spain of the Catholic Monarchs, 1474-1520 (Wiley, 2000).

And another book on new research about the position of the church and some of the complications of the story I laid out above…

Rawlings, Helen, Church, Religion and Society in Early Modern Spain (New York: Palgrave, 2002).

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