Catholicism and españolismo
From the ancien régime to Fernando VII
in Spanish identity in the age of nations
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The identification between Spain and Catholicism continued for a long time, certainly well into the 1850s. The most striking aspect is that it survived, if not in opposition to, then at least relatively detached from, the national myth which, during the early decades of the Modern Age, was created and controlled by the liberals. This chapter describes the manner by which conservative circles—defined far more by their religiosity than by their identification with the State—gradually evolved towards a nationalist outlook. The first section looks at how closely Catholicism was identified with the Hispanic monarchy at the time of the Counter-Reformation. The second section examines the purges of the non-Catholic minorities in Iberian society in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, something which left a lasting imprint upon the way in which the dominant religiosity was understood. The third section analyses the significance of the celebrated ‘alliance between the Altar and the Throne’ in the final years of the ancient régime, an alliance that was never free of rivalry. Only then can we fully appreciate the complexity of the ties that bound Spanish identity to Catholicism at the beginning of the Modern Age and the subsequent role of religion in the great political upheavals of the nineteenth century.

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