God's providential design
For Protestants and Catholics alike, America held a special place in God's providential design. `The overruling Providence of the great God', wrote Cotton Mather, the Puritan divine, in 1702, `is to be acknowledged, as well in the concealing of America for so long a time, as in the discovering of it, when the fulness of time was come for the discovery . . .' For Mather the coincidence of the discovery with the `Reformation of Religion' in Europe was part of God's providential plan. With America now revealed, `the Church of God must no longer be wrapped up in Strabo's cloak; Geography must now find work for a Christiano-graphy in regions far enough beyond the bounds wherein the Church of God had, through all former ages, been circumscribed ...'i
That same `Reformation of Religion', which was central to the Protestant story of the redemption of the human race, also helped Catholics to locate the conquest and colonization of America within their own alternative story of the unfolding of God's design. Giovanni Botero, in his highly influential Relazioni universali of 1595, declared that it was divine providence which brought about the rejection of Columbus's proposals by the kings of France and England, whose countries would subsequently fall prey to the supreme heresy of Calvinism. Instead, God placed America in the safe hands of the Castilians and the Portuguese and their pious monarchs.' Franciscans engaged in the evangelization of the Indies made an even closer association between the conversion of the New World and religious upheaval in the Old. Luther and Cortes, asserted Fray Geronimo de Mendieta, had been born in the same year. No matter that his dates were wrong. Hernan Cortes was the new Moses who had opened the way to the promised land, and the losses suffered by the church to heresy in Europe had been offset by the winning of innumerable souls in the new lands he had conquered for the faith.'
Mendieta, who stood in much the same temporal and psychological relationship to the first evangelists of New Spain as Mather to the first settlers of New England,' represented a late flowering of a spiritual Franciscan tradition which located America, as the Puritans would seek to locate America, in both time and space. The twelve Franciscan `apostles' who, at the request of Hernan Cortes, embarked on the enormous task of winning the peoples of Mexico to the faith, were the heirs to an apocalyptic tradition permeated by the eschatological ideas of the twelfth-century Cistercian abbot, Joachim of Fiore. In Joachimite prophecy, the first two ages, those of the Father and the Son, would be followed by a third age, the age of the Holy Ghost. This third age, as the Franciscans saw it, was about to dawn. The New Jerusalem would be established on earth, and the conversion of the world would be the prelude to its end.'
In this scheme of things, as interpreted by the Franciscan apostle, Fray Toribio de Benavente - known as Motolinia, `the poor one', by his Nahua flock - America was to be the theatre in which the great drama of salvation was played out. According to Motolinia, the twelve apostles, as the sons of the `true Israelite, St. Francis', came to Mexico `as to another Egypt, not hungering for bread but for souls, which are to be found in abundance'. The Indians, to whom they were bringing the Christian evangel, had been struck down for their sins by plagues more cruel even than those that once afflicted Egypt - by the diseases that accompanied the conquest, and by the heavy labour and tributes imposed by the conquerors. But the evangelists had come to lead them on their exodus out of the land in which their souls had been held in pharaonic captivity by the devil.6 As these redeemed people embraced the true faith with simple fervour, it would become possible - and indeed was already becoming possible - to restore the church of the apostles in its pure and primitive form. In this Franciscan `Christiano-graphy', to borrow Cotton Mather's term, America thus became a supremely sacred space, with the conversion of the Indians presaging the imminent coming of the age of the Holy Ghost.
This millennial vision of the first Franciscans was by no means universally shared, even among members of the Franciscan Order itself. Not only was there scepticism about the sincerity of the mass Indian conversions, but there were those like the Dominican Las Casas who held firmly to the Augustinian doctrine that salvation was not for the masses but was reserved for the elect.7 Spanish America, however, was large enough to provide the setting for a variety of holy experiments. In the 1530s, in a bellicose region of Guatemala that was to be rechristened Verapaz, Las Casas launched his own ultimately abortive experiment for the peaceable winning of the Indians to the faith, placing them directly under royal rule and keeping the encomenderos at arm's length.' It was in this decade, too, that Vasco de Quiroga, the Bishop of Michoacan, set up his famous `pueblohospitals' of Santa Fe, on the shores of Lake Patzcuaro. An important source of inspiration for these Indian communities, in which religious indoctrination was combined with six hours a day of labour for the common weal, was Thomas More's Utopia, which Quiroga had read with admiration. But alongside this humanist vision, Quiroga also shared the Franciscan ideal of the restoration in the New World of the primitive Christian church.'
As the sixteenth century drew to a close, millenarian expectations among the friars were on the wane, and just as Mather was to lament the `declension' of New England from the high ideals of its pioneering generation, so Mendieta looked back in bitterness on the fall of the Mexican New Jerusalem, corrupted and destroyed by the vices of the conquerors.1° But in fact the most ambitious of all holy experiments in Spanish America was yet to come, undertaken by the Jesuit Order among the unsubdued Guarani Indians in the remote jungle borderlands between Brazil and Paraguay. Here, from 1609, the Jesuits began to establish their famous mission settlements, after obtaining from the royal authorities a prohibition against the entry of Spanish colonists into the region, like that secured by Las Casas for his Verapaz experiment."
In their aspiration to control both the spiritual and the temporal activities of the Indians who inhabited them, these Jesuit mission settlements resembled the reducciones - the village communities created by Viceroy Toledo's forcible relocation of the Peruvian Indians in the later sixteenth century. But, unlike the reducciones, these communities were unconnected with encomiendas, and Indians paid their tribute through the Company of Jesus directly to the king. The exclusion of encomenderos and other Europeans, which owed at least as much to the remoteness of the region as to any royal prohibition, allowed the Jesuits to conduct their holy experiment on their own terms. In their period of maximum prosperity, in the opening decades of the eighteenth century, the thirty communities, covering some 100,000 square kilometres, had a population of perhaps 150,000 Guarani Indians who had been persuaded to abandon their previous semi-nomadic existence and to live tightly disciplined lives regulated by the liturgical calendar and strictly supervised by the Jesuits.12 Economically self-supporting, and organized to defend themselves against raids by the bandeirantes from neighbouring Brazil, these proved themselves to be viable communities over a period of a century and a half, yielding the Jesuits both a healthy income and a rich harvest of souls. But, as transformed by a European imagination nourished by Jesuit newsletters, they were to be much more than this. The Jesuits, it seemed, had created nothing less than a Utopia in the forests of America.
The Jesuit `state' of Paraguay, as interpreted by the Europe of the Enlightenment, represented the secularization of a spiritual ideal. But, as with the other holy experiments conducted on American soil, the spiritual and the secular were closely intertwined. Spiritual communities withdrawn from the world were, by their nature, exemplary communities holding out an alternative vision of how the world might be if it would only change its ways. It was the peculiarity of these exemplary communities of Hispanic America, beginning with the millennial kingdom of the Franciscans in New Spain and culminating in the Jesuit `state' of Paraguay, that they all revolved around the conversion of the Indians, in fulfilment of what were seen as the spiritual obligations inherent in God's choice of Spain to conquer and settle these pagan lands. By contrast, the Indians were marginal to the greatest holy experiment in British America, the creation of Puritan New England as a `city upon a hill'.
It was of course true that the conversion of the Indians had figured on the agenda of the English since the beginnings of settlement - although it was to be conversion, argued Robert Johnson in his Nova Britannia of 1609, not in the Spanish manner `with rapier's point and musket shot ... but by fair and loving means, suiting to our English natures ...'13 This was the animating spirit behind Eliot's `praying villages', the Protestant answer to the Jesuit missions, and the most visible reminder of a continuing if erratically pursued commitment to the propagation of the gospel on American soil.14 There was no doubt that the spiritual and moral well-being of the Indians formed part of God's providential design for the English settlement of America, as Cotton Mather noted in relation to the report of the healing of a Christianized Indian in Martha's Vineyard, whose withered arm was restored through prayer. Quoting with approbation the words of a fellow minister, `who can or dare deny but that the calling of those Americans to the knowledge of the truth, may seem a weighty occasion to expect from God the gift of miracles?', he added his own triumphant conclusion: `Behold, reader, the expectation remarkably accommodated!"5
One of the ironies inherent in Mather's comment is that the friars in Spain's American dominions had agonized over the absence of miracles to support and validate their efforts. Not all were convinced by Mendieta's argument that `Miracles according to St. Paul are for the infidels and unbelievers, and since the Indians of this land received the Faith with such readiness and desire, miracles were not necessary in order to convert them.'16 Mather and his colleagues were untroubled by any such doubts. Theirs was a world not of miracles but of 'especial providences of God', in which an event like the healing of an Indian's withered arm constituted but one small fragment of the providential order of a God-centred universe.17
According to the Protestant apocalyptic tradition as it developed in Tudor and early Stuart England, all the territories in America settled and to be settled by the English had their predestined place in God's grand design, since the English themselves were an elect nation chosen by the Lord. For John Rolfe, as for others who pioneered the settlement of Virginia, their migration across the Atlantic was the going forth of `a peculiar people, marked and chosen by the finger of God, to possess it, for undoubtedly he is with us'.18 As one of the sermons preached before the Virginia Company at the time of the founding of Jamestown declared, England possessed a divine warrant to establish a `new Britain in another world'.19 America thereby assumed its position as a new battleground in the unrelenting struggle between the forces of light, represented by the Protestant Reformation, and the satanic forces of darkness, which had their seat in Rome.
Yet if, in accordance with this cosmic vision, all British America acquired the character of sacred space, one part of it, at least in the eyes of its committed inhabitants, was sacred above all others: `that English settlement', as Cotton Mather put it, `which may, upon a thousand accounts, pretend unto more of true English than all the rest, and which alone therefore has been called New-England ...' Here, looking back over the course of the seventeenth century, he could proudly record `some feeble attempts made in the American hemisphere to anticipate the state of the New Jerusalem, as far as the unavoidable vanity of human affairs and influence of Satan upon them would allow of it ... '20
Not everyone was willing to accept Mather's version of the story, even in New England itself. The maverick Roger Williams, for one, rejected the notion that New England, or for that matter old England or any other nation, qualified as elect because of a covenant with God.21 Others, more secularly minded, would have no truck with the idea that they had come to America to build an approximation of the New Jerusalem. When a minister attempted to persuade a group of listeners in northern New England to mend their ways because `otherwise they would contradict the main end of planting this wilderness', one of them cried out: `Sir, you are mistaken: you think you are preaching to the people at the Bay; our main end was to catch fish.'22 But if the image of New England as new Canaan held little appeal for those who had gone there merely to catch fish, many saw the unfolding of God's plan in the story of its settlement.
The story, as told by Mather, began with the providential landfall in 1620 of the Pilgrim Fathers at Cape Cod, which `was not the port upon which they intended', and not the `land for which they had provided. There was indeed a most wonderful providence of God, over a pious and a praying people, in this disappointment! The most crooked way that ever was gone, even that of Israel's peregrination through the wilderness, may be called a right way, such was the way of this little Israel, now going into the wilderness ...'23 The children of Israel had set forth on the tortuous journey that would lead them to the promised land.
John Winthrop's crossing in the Arbella in 1630 added to the already potent image of an exodus into the wilderness24 another, and eventually even more potent image, that of a `city upon a hill'.25 `The eyes of the world are upon us', as he told his companions in his address on board ship. The covenant among the participants in the Great Migration to build their city on a hill in New England rather than old England was an explicit recognition of the failure of the Puritans to conform the Anglican church to their wishes and to create in their home country the godly society for which they had yearned and striven for so long. God's wrath was about to descend on England for its sins. `I am verily persuaded,' wrote John Winthrop, `God will bring some heavy Affliction upon this land and that speedily.' America thus became a place of refuge for those whom God `means to save out of this generall callamitie'.26
The providentialist vision therefore transcended the Protestant- Catholic divide, giving America, in the eyes of Franciscans and Puritans alike, its assigned place in the great drama of judgment and salvation. But where the Franciscans made the conversion of the Indians the centrepiece of this drama, the Puritan version of it was exclusive, not inclusive, and was framed in terms of the salvation of the elect. The church to be established in Massachusetts Bay was to be a gathered church of visible saints, those who had experienced the transforming touch of God's grace. Whether Indians would be numbered among the saints was in the disposition of God, not of man. For this reason, the mission to the Indians came a poor second to ministering to the elect.
Yet it was possible that the Indians had special claims to the attention of the New England ministers, for reasons that were both historical and providentialist - or so the `Apostle' John Eliot came to believe. Ever since the conquest of Mexico there had been suggestions that its inhabitants might be descended from the lost tribes of Israel. How else explain what seemed to a number of friars, like the Dominican Fray Diego Duran, the remarkable parallels between some of the rites and experiences of the Israelites as related in the Bible, and those of the Aztecs, a people whose history was also that of an exodus to a promised land?27 In the middle decades of the seventeenth century, possible affinities between the Jews and the indigenous peoples of America again became the subject of excited debate, this time among the Protestants, duly impressed in the prevailing climate of millennial expectation by Manasseh ben Israel's identification of the Indians with the ten lost tribes in his Spes Israelis.21
Just as the identification had lent credibility in the sixteenth century to the notion that the Indians were capable of conversion, and had thus given a providentialist context to the activities of the friars, so, a century later, similar doctrines gave a new impetus to Eliot's missionary endeavours. In two series of public lectures on biblical prophecy the Boston preacher John Cotton had expounded in the 1640s a millenarian doctrine which can be traced back, like that of the Franciscans of New Spain, to the teachings of Joachim of Fiore. The New England saints were to stand ready for a period of great convulsions, in which the destruction of the Church of Rome would be followed by the conversion of the Jews, the dawn of the millennium and the redemption of the gentiles, among whom he numbered the American Indians. Eliot was one of those deeply influenced by Cotton's millenarian beliefs, although they offered no hope for anything more than a few scattered conversions of the New England Indians until there had first been a mass conversion of the Jews. But if, as Eliot began to believe at the end of the decade, the peoples of America were not after all of gentile but of Jewish origin, then - if the millennium was indeed imminent - the mass conversion of the Indians must be much nearer than was thought. While the execution of Charles I indicated that England was to provide the setting for the inauguration of the new millennial order in the west, New England now became, in Eliot's eyes, the setting for its inauguration in the `east'.29
In 1651, at Natick, on the Charles River, he established his first Indian community. Like Vasco de Quiroga's `pueblo-hospitals' on the shores of Lake Patzcuaro, the settlement was a civil and religious polity, and Eliot planned its governance by means of rulers of one hundred, as prescribed by his understanding of the millennial order.30 Yet although the missionary work itself made great strides in the following years, and thirteen more praying towns were eventually to be founded, the founder himself gradually retreated from some of his more extreme positions. The Restoration of the monarchy in England cast doubt on the anticipated time-scale for the coming of the millennium, and further study made the Hebrew origin of the Indians less certain than it had seemed at the peak of Eliot's millenarian zeal in the early 1650s. Others never shared his millenarian views, and had always harboured doubts about the spiritual aptitude of the Indians. Especially afer the trauma of King Philip's War of 1675-6, New England ministers were inclined to agree with the conclusion to William Hubbard's General History of New England (1680): `here are no footsteps of any religion before the English came, but merely diabolical."' The same conclusion had long ago been reached by friars and clerics in Spanish America, who castigated Indian `idolatry' as active devil worship, and had become convinced that any resemblances between indigenous ceremonial practices and those of Judaism were deceptions by the devil rather than the acting out of vague ancestral memories of distant Hebrew rites.
For the devil stalked Spanish and British America alike. `That old usurping landlord of America', Cotton Mather called him, the prince of darkness who hoped that `the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ would never come here to destroy or disturb his absolute empire'.32 In a European mental world `structured by opposition and inversion',33 it was taken for granted that the devil operated by means of a cunning mimesis of the supernatural order, turning the world upside down. The friars were therefore not surprised to find that the rites and ceremonies of the indigenous societies mimicked, sometimes frighteningly, the rites and ceremonies of the Christian church.34 Faced with a world of invisible forces, of sorcery and enchantment, they wrote manuals to alert converts and their confessors to the stratagems of Satan, and the history of the church in Spanish America was to be characterized by a series of campaigns, like that of Archbishop Villagomez in seventeenth-century Peru, for the `extirpation of idolatry'.31
Such campaigns were in effect a contest for the sacralization of American space, and nowhere more literally than in the Andes, where the Spaniards sought to destroy the huacas - the sacred objects, the sites and the shrines of the Indians - and erect on the site of every huaca a cross, a shrine or a church. A similar contest for mastery was enacted in New England, where
upon the arrival of the English in these parts, the Indians employed their sorcerers, whom they call powaws, like Salaam, to curse them, and let loose their demons upon them, to shipwreck them, to distract them, to poison them, or in any way to ruin them, . . . but the devils at length acknowledged unto them, that they could not hinder those people from their becoming the owners and masters of the country, whereupon the Indians resolved upon a good correspondence with our new-comers; and God convinced them that there was no enchantment or divination against such a people.36
The gradual spread of settlement, and the establishment of new congregations of the saints, displaced the devil, along with the Indians, to the New England forests.37 But he was, and remained, terrifyingly close, and was forever walking abroad in pursuit of his nefarious designs. Not only did he hold the Indians in his thrall, but he was also working to seduce the godly, who must be on constant guard to defend themselves against his wiles. `Wilderness' was closely equated with temptation in the minds of the godly, for had not Christ struggled with the tempter in the wilderness?38 In a world that was perceived to be dominated by supernatural forces - where the ways of providence were expressed not only in extraordinary expressions of God's favour, but also in sudden calamities, in storms and crop failures and prodigies of nature - the dividing line between the angelic and the diabolical was a narrow one. For this reason it was all too easy for even the elect to be deceived.
The resort to magic was one way both to secure access to, and to seek to control, the occult forces at work in the universe. Although the ministers set themselves firmly against recourse to magical practices, these were widespread in Puritan New England, as in the other British settlements.39 At the best of times it was not easy to distinguish between orthodox and magical remedies for the cure of ailments. In the New World the difficulty was compounded by the profusion of hitherto unknown plants with potential medicinal qualities, and by the proximity of an indigenous population with its own traditional healing arts, that in European eyes were all too likely to smack of superstition and sorcery.
In principle the challenge might seem to have been even greater in Spanish America than in the English settlements, as a result of the cohabitation and racial intermingling of Europeans, Indians and Africans, all furnished with their own ample stock of folk beliefs and practices. The settlers, through their nursemaids and servants, learnt new healing arts from the Indian curanderos, whose resort to `superstition' and to hallucinogenic plants was a source of indignation to doctors trained in European practices, like Juan de Cardenas in later sixteenth-century New Spain.40 Sorcery and magic among the creole, mestizo and mulatto population fell within the ambit of the tribunals of the Inquisition, which were set up in Lima in 1570 and in Mexico City in 1571. But the Mexican tribunal displayed a relatively limited interest in them, to judge from the number of prosecutions that it undertook.41 The Lima Inquisition, at least from the 1620s, seems to have shown considerably more interest than its Mexican counterpart, possibly because of the growing preoccupation of the authorities with the apparent failure of Christianization to uproot superstitious and idolatrous practices in Andean society, and the seductive power of Inca revivalism, among non-Indians as well as Indians, as the age of the Incas receded into the mists of the past.42 The extensive use of coca, not only for curing but also for divining, inevitably added to the uneasinesss of the authorities. With the possible exception, however, of the Lima region and the Andean highlands in the age of the `extirpation of idolatry' campaigns, the general impression is of a broad tolerance in the racially mixed society of Spanish America for practices that lent themselves to a benevolent interpretation as offering cures for ills.
Even in New England, although the ministers condemned magic as the work of the devil, many of them were inclined to regard it as the outcome of ignorance and `simplicity', rather than of premeditated sin.43 In the 1680s, however, the New England ministers became increasingly preoccupied by the prevalence of malefic magic, which had been the subject of sporadic indictments since the first witch trials and executions in the late 1640s and early 1650s. The northern colonies had been passing through difficult years. King Philip's War had brought massive destruction in 1675-6, and further tension and uncertainty had been created by the attempts of the crown to tighten its control by revoking the Massachusetts charter in 1684 and establishing the Dominion of New England. In the midst of these various trials and tribulations the ministers were deeply troubled about the `declension' they detected from the high spiritual standards set by the first generation of their ministerial predecessors. Their own authority was facing a growing challenge, both from within their congregations and from the rising strength of Anglicans, Quakers and Baptists. Increasingly beleaguered, they saw in the prevalence of magic further evidence of the machinations of the devil, who was visibly gaining ground in his attempts to overthrow the city on a hill.44 `Satan', declared the Reverend Deodat Lawson, preaching in Salem Village, Massachusetts, in 1692, `is the grand enemy of all mankind ... He is the original, the fountain of malice, the instigation of all contrariety, malignity and enmity '45 Prayer and repentance, not diabolically inspired magic, were the only effective answer to satanic wiles.
Lawson's bleak warning was indicative of the climate of anxiety and condemnation that had gripped Salem and the surrounding region since the launching of its famous witchcraft trials in February 1692. The crisis began in January when the niece and daughter of the Reverend Samuel Parris of Salem Village were seized by convulsive fits.46 Under questioning, it transpired that a woman neighbour had resorted to countermagic in an attempt to cure the girls, and had instructed Tituba, a household slave, to prepare a `witchcake' for them. There are strong indications that Tituba was an Indian, not an African slave, and a later account describes her as having been `brought into the country from New Spain', which may suggest that she originally came from Spanish Florida.47 The girls were not cured, and the reports of diabolical practices multiplied as more and more girls and young women in the community were similarly affected by convulsions, and identified their tormentors by name from among their neighbours. Once the process had begun, it became unstoppable. More and more unfortunates - men as well as women - were denounced and prosecuted as being in consort with the devil. The hysteria gripped not only Salem but also the neighbouring town of Andover, both in Essex County. By November, when the campaign had largely run its course, and fifty-four `confessions' had been forthcoming, at least 144 people (38 of them men) had been prosecuted, and fourteen women and five men had been hanged.48 Then, as doubts spread about the handling of the cases in the Salem courtroom, and scepticism grew about the credibility of the graphic testimony presented by the afflicted girls, the trials collapsed as swiftly and dramatically as they had begun. Belief in the existence of witches and witchcraft still remained strong, but after the turn of the century there would be no further witch trials in New England.
What remains unclear is why a generalized sense of anxiety about the activities of the devil should have come to a head in this particular area, Essex County, Massachusetts, and at this particular moment. The years 1690-2 seem to have been a time of particular stress and tension, even in relation to what had come before. A smallpox epidemic in 1690 had set nerves on edge.49 In 1691 the worst fears of Congregational ministers were confirmed when the new royal charter permitted freedom of worship to dissenters from Congregationalism, thus officially sanctioning the religious competition they had long struggled to contain. At the more local level, there were tensions between Salem Village and the nearby Salem Town. The strong Quaker community located between them was a visible threat to old-established ways.
Perhaps most potent of all was the sense of crisis generated by the outbreak of a second Indian War in 1688, only ten years after the ending of King Philip's War. Settler society suffered from a deep and persistent fear of the `redskins', those half-present, half-absent Indians who peopled the imaginations of the whites in the northern frontier regions even more than they peopled in reality its dark woods and forests. The Wabanakis were once more on the warpath, in collusion with the French Canadians, whose popery made them as threatening as the Indians. They raided the town of Andover in 1689, and when the colonial militia tried to stop the raids and launch a counter-attack on Montreal its efforts were rewarded with humiliating failure. Maine in particular suffered further devastation, and the inflow of refugees from the border areas was a stark reminder to Essex County of the constant menace of attack, although whether it received more refugees than other parts of Massachusetts is far from clear. But it is significant that some confessions of spectral sightings of the devil depicted him as being `tawny', like an Indian. Tituba and her witchcake had brought the devil out of the forest and into the home.
Private grudges, manipulation, mass hysteria all played their part in the terrible collective drama which, as it developed in these fear-stricken communities, showed increasing signs of sparing not even the ministers themselves. Even the judges of Salem's Court of Oyer and Terminer, a class of men who in the past had tended to be sceptical when presented with cases involving witchcraft, succumbed to the hysteria, perhaps out of genuine conviction that only the machinations of the devil could explain the failure of the military operations led by their friends and relatives against the Indians and the French.so
Mass hysteria, however, was not confined to this small corner of the American continent. By an odd coincidence a not dissimilar, if less tragic, drama was being played out at almost exactly the same moment thousands of miles away, in the Mexican City of Queretaro." In 1683, at a time when the New England ministers were agonizing over the backsliding of their flocks, a new branch of the Franciscan Order, known as Propaganda Fide, set up a college in Queretaro. The aim of these ascetic Franciscans, many of them new arrivals from Spain, was to bring the gospel to unevangelized rural areas, while also conducting a spiritual ministry in the towns - a ministry which would bring about a `universal reformation of customs'." Like the ministers in New England, the Franciscans had found themselves faced with growing competition - in this instance from rival religious orders, the Dominicans, the Augustinians and the Jesuits, whose activities had subverted traditional Franciscan primacy in the evangelization of New Spain.53 Like the ministers in New England, they needed to recover the initiative with a powerful message, and they found it in their cause of ascetic reform. Whipping up popular enthusiasm through preaching and processions they imposed a puritanical regime on the city, putting a stop to public games, dances and other unsuitable festivities. Both sexes were affected by their preaching, but women proved to be especially susceptible, and by the end of 1691 disturbing reports were reaching the tribunal of the Inquisition in Mexico City that women who had taken the Franciscan habit and frequented the missions in Queretaro were showing signs of diabolical possession. They screamed, insulted the Virgin Mary, spat on crucifixes and holy relics, and went into convulsions. On receiving these reports, the Inquisition moved swiftly into action, formally accusing the demoniacs of pretending to be possessed, simply as a pretext for blaspheming and uttering heresies. Some of the Franciscans most closely involved in the affair were reprimanded, and the episode ended almost as soon as it had begun.
Queretaro and Salem were very different worlds, but there were certain obvious similarities in the dramas that engulfed them, like the apparent susceptibility of women to messages of warning and redemption, and allegations of diabolical possession of children, who played such an important part in the Salem trials. One of the cases adduced by the Franciscans was that of a ten-year-old girl, alleged to have been whisked through the air to a distant hill. Here the witches sought to persuade her to make a compact with Satan, that would enable her to visit Spain and Rome at will. This, after all, was a devil operating under Catholic, not Protestant, auspices. More significantly, the allegations of diabolical possession, both in New England and Queretaro, coincided with campaigns to raise the level of religion and morality. In both instances, the effect of these campaigns seems to have been to fill congregations with a deep sense of spiritual inadequacy. Commenting on the Franciscan mission in Queretaro, a Carmelite wrote: `Men are disconsolate, women are afflicted and souls are everywhere riddled with doubt.' The over-zealous Franciscans, by attempting to turn their followers into saints overnight, had generated strains which had led them to indulge in bizarre behaviour and develop `strange illnesses'.54 In Roman Catholic New Spain, as in Puritan Massachusetts, religious professionals proved to be prime purveyors of anxiety.
For all the differences between Protestantism and Tridentine Catholicism, their shared theological inheritance inevitably led to many points of convergence, and not least on questions relating to magic and diabolism. This was particularly true of their common reliance on the teachings of Saint Augustine, which, by sharply separating the natural from the supernatural, could easily lead on both sides of the confessional divide to perceptions of a God so omnipotent as to be a capricious tyrant, using the devil for His own providential purposes. In playing down the Queretaro episode the inquisitors, while no doubt motivated, as the New England ministers belatedly came to be motivated, by an awareness of the role of malice and deceit in witchcraft accusations, seem to have been as anxious to preserve the credibility of a malign devil as of a just God.55 In New England it was the credibility of spectral evidence, rather than of the devil himself, that came to trouble the ministers and the magistrates.56 The winds of the new sceptical philosophy may have been blowing in America as well as Europe by the late seventeenth century - both the Mexican savant, Siguenza y Gongora and, with considerably more hesitation, Cotton Mather, opted for natural rather than supernatural explanations of the comet they observed passing through the skies in 168057 - but down on earth the devil, even if not necessarily each and every spectral sighting, remained unnervingly believable.
Religious teaching that stressed, in New Spain and New England alike, the divine intention to test and increase the merits of the faithful through satanic trials and temptations while also emphasizing the relationship between personal responsibility and personal misfortune, helped to intensify the sense of vulnerability in a world where so much seemed to be beyond individual control. But where the sense of vulnerability among the faithful in Counter-Reformation societies may have been alleviated by belief in the countervailing power of ritual, this recourse, although by no means absent, was less obviously available for Protestants standing in an unmediated relationship to an all-powerful God.58 Fasting, public confession and penitential rites, however, played a major part in the life of New England congregations, providing collective reinforcement against the temptations of the devil. Yet the very practice of public confession in the Congregational churches must also have encouraged members to make the confessions of demonic possession that unleashed the witchcraft trials.59
While the conjunction of mentality and circumstance may have contrived to give greater prominence to malefic magic among the settler population of later seventeenth-century New England than of New Spain, Spanish American churchmen, had they known of it, would have had no cause to quarrel with John Foxe's assertion that `the elder the world waxeth, the longer it continueth, the nearer it hasteneth to its end, the more Satan rageth.'60 But those same churchmen could call on powerful allies in their battle to defend American space from the hosts of Satan. There were, to begin with, the angels and archangels, who were seen as the soldiers and guardians of the new Catholic empire of the Indies. An ancient and doctrinally suspect tradition, transmitted by way of the spiritual Franciscans to the Jesuits, endowed the archangels Michael and Gabriel with five archangelic companions, each with a name and a specific heavenly assignment. Corresponding to the seven virtues, these were pitted against seven named devils, who corresponded to the vices. Nowhere was this struggle between the forces of good and evil fought out more fiercely than in Peru, where, in representations from the later seventeenth century onwards, artists took to depicting the seven archangels like members of a heavenly corps de ballet, dressed in elaborate lace-trimmed uniforms, and with muskets in hand (fig. 18).61
While the archangels were fighting on their side, the clergy and the faithful also had recourse to intercession by the Virgin and a battery of saints. The `local religion' of sixteenth-century Spain, with its proliferation of chapels, shrines and images for which a local community felt a particular devotion'62 transferred itself to the Indies, where towns and villages acquired their own special patron as space was Christianized.63 Some images were brought over from Spain, allegedly in the saddle-bags of the conquistadores, like the Virgin of Los Remedios, who was named the patron of Mexico City in 1574.64 Some were crudely carved by local Indians, and subsequently acquired an unearthly beauty, like the Virgin of Copacabana, a Christianized Indian sanctuary on the shores of Lake Titicaca - an image which, beginning as an object of local devotion, came to be specially venerated throughout the viceroyalty.65 Others were discovered hidden in some cave, or were miraculously revealed by an apparition.
The most famous of all such apparitions of the Virgin Mary was that to a poor Mexican Indian, Juan Diego, in 1531. The story went that, on receiving her instructions to gather up flowers, he carried them in his cape to the bishop, who was astonished to find her likeness painted on the cloth. The veneration of this image, first established as a local cult after a shrine was built for it at Guadalupe, near Mexico City, began to spread as miracles were reported. But it was a veneration largely confined to Indians. It was only during the seventeenth century, at a time when the creole population of New Spain was struggling to establish a sense of its own place in the world, that the cult was also taken up by creoles, and the Virgin of Guadalupe was effectively launched on the spectacular career that would eventually transform her into the symbol of `Mexican' aspirations and a `Mexican' identity.66
The Virgin of Copacabana never quite achieved the same transcendence in viceregal Peru, but on the other hand the viceroyalty was to secure the first American saint, a creole visionary called Isabel Flores de Oliva (1584-1617), who, in her struggles with the devil, subjected herself to extraordinary mortifications and was canonized in 1671 as Santa Rosa of Lima.67 The cult of Santa Rosa was to spread throughout Spanish America, of which, on her canonization, she was named patron saint. In a powerful painting in the cathedral of Mexico City she was depicted locked in the devil's muscular embrace (fig. 19).68 Transcending local, and even viceregal, boundaries, this striking image, pitting the spiritual serenity of the saint against the malignity of the devil, epitomizes what was perceived as a cosmic struggle between the forces of light and darkness throughout Spain's dominions in the Indies.
The sacralization of space reflected in the appropriation of saints and images by different localities right across the Spanish Indies was accompanied by the sacralization of time, as their feast-days were celebrated in massive demonstrations of popular devotion. Taking Sundays into account, over 150 days a year in seventeenth-century Peru were given over to festivities in celebration of important events in the life of the church and of the Spanish crown.69 This made a striking contrast with the calendar of Puritan New England, where traditional Christian holy days, like Christmas and Easter, were rigorously suppressed, and only Sundays were kept. Yet the routine of the day's work in Massachusetts could be disrupted at any moment if a minister were moved by the spirit to give a lecture or sermon, and the General Assembly found it necessary in 1639 to ask the clergy to cut down on their preaching. There was a proliferation, too, of special prayer days, of days of fasting and thanksgiving, both in New England and elsewhere. New England is said to have observed 664 fast days and days of thanksgiving for 'providential events' over the course of the seventeenth century. With Sundays included, this meant that some sixty days a year - compared with Peru's 150 - were set aside for religious purposes. In Anglican eyes this was inadequate. In 1681 royal pressure forced the General Council of Massachusetts Bay to repeal its law against the celebration of Christmas, and Governor Andros encouraged the observance not only of the major Christian feast-days but of nearly twenty annual saint's days.70
Removing ritual from time, the Puritans of New England also removed it from space. `Holiness of Places', wrote Cotton Mather, `is ... no more believed among them, than it was in the Days of Clemens Alexandrinus, who says ... Every Place is in truth holy, where we receive the knowledge of God.'7' With no specifically sacrosanct spaces in Puritan `Christiano-graphy', the ministers, unlike the friars in Spanish America, made no effort to adapt places revered as sacred by the Indians to Christian purposes. It was true that their religious buildings - simple, unadorned meeting-houses, not churches - were situated at the centre of settlements, but their position was dictated as much by civil as by religious considerations, and meeting-houses and cemeteries conferred no special sanctity on the ground they occupied.72 If the New England congregations duly developed their own rituals, in the form of public and private prayers, fasting and confessions, and took communion from silver vessels '71 they were engaged in a ritualism whose credentials remained firmly anti-ritualistic.
For those who did not share the sense of participating in an errand into the wilderness, and had no wish to see their settlements transformed into cities on a hill, the Puritans of New England were likely to give the impression of profaning the sacred and sacralizing the profane. But even the luminous churches that began to embellish the countryside of Anglican Virginia from the late seventeenth century were places of civil as well as of religious encounter.74 No special shrines, no local saints, no holy images - the spiritual landscape of British America, outside a few Roman Catholic places of worship in Maryland, was coming to bear the imprint of the Protestant Reformation, just as the spiritual landscape of Spanish America had come to bear the imprint of the Catholic Reformation and CounterReformation, with Spanish local religion and hybrid forms of Indian religion thrown in for good measure.
The church and society
A primitive Christian church built on Indian foundations or a republic of the saints? The two most radical dreams for the spiritual appropriation of America - one cherished by the first generation of friars in New Spain, the other by the Puritan communities established in New England - were to prove equally difficult of realization. The Indians turned out to be wayward and dissembling; the saints showed an alarming proclivity for backbiting and backsliding. In both instances, the requisite response appeared to lie in the direction of more discipline and control. The friars fought to establish an exclusive control over their erring Indian charges; the Puritan ministers to impose and preserve their authority over recalcitrant congregations. But discipline brought institutionalization, and institutionalization, in turn, was all too prone to quench the fervour of the spirit.
Mendicants and ministers who struggled to preserve the original vision in all its pristine purity had to do so in an environment in which it soon became clear that they held no spiritual monopoly. The authority of the mendicants was to be challenged by a state church that rapidly consolidated the institutional basis of its power, while the New England ministers were to find themselves in competition not only with an increasingly assertive Anglican establishment but also with religious groups claiming to have received their own distinctive revelation. The sacred soil of America lent itself all too well to turf wars.
The mutually reinforcing alliance of throne and altar in Spanish America created a church whose influence pervaded colonial society. Philip II, in his capacity as Vicar of Christ, and using the enormous powers granted him under the Patronato, shaped an institutional church which he sought to conform to the requirements of the Council of Trent while ensuring that it remained strictly subordinate to royal control.71 Authority was firmly placed in the hands of the bishops, all of them chosen by the crown. But the colonial church that was constructed on the twin foundations of the royal Patronato and the Tridentine decrees was to be neither as monolithic nor as subservient to royal control as Philip would have wished.
Just as royal government in Spanish America was made up of different power centres - viceroys, Audiencias, and royal officials with visitorial powers - all of them with competing and overlapping areas of jurisdiction, so the clerical establishment was divided among competing bodies, with their own priorities, interests, and areas of autonomy. A fissure ran down the centre of the colonial church between the secular clergy and the religious orders, which in turn were divided by their own institutional affiliations and traditional rivalries. During the sixteenth century the crown turned primarily to the religious orders to fill the bishoprics, pursuing a policy that reflected the primacy of the regulars in the evangelization of the Indies. Of the 159 bishops who took up their appointments in Spain's American territories between 1504 and 1620, 105 were members of the religious orders (52 of them Dominicans), and 54 were secular clergy76 For the remainder of the seventeenth century the numbers were more evenly balanced, before tilting in favour of the secular clergy in the eighteenth century.77
The acrimonious rivalries between the regular and the secular clergy over episcopal appointments were repeated at ground level across the Indies as the crown, against fierce mendicant opposition, sought to comply with the provisions of the Council of Trent by `secularizing' many of the parishes (doctrinas) run by the friars, replacing them with secular priests. But by the end of the sixteenth century the crown's campaign was stalled, and a large and impressive mendicant establishment - some 3,000 in mid-seventeenth-century New Spain alone, as against some 2,000 secular clergy78 - largely succeeded in holding its own until the mideighteenth century, when the campaign was renewed with more success under Bourbon auspices.79
In fighting their stubborn rearguard action the religious orders could draw on their record of success with their Indian charges, on the support they enjoyed among influential circles in Rome and Madrid, on the goodwill of their devotees among the creole population, and on their own rapidly growing resources as they accumulated property through gifts and endowments. But, in common with other sections of the clerical establishment, they exploited the internal divisions within the structures of royal government to defend their position and promote their cause. The result was a continuous interplay of ecclesiastical and secular disputes in Spain's American territories throughout the colonial period, as religious issues shaped and distorted political alignments.
A classic example of this process occurred in New Spain during the troubled viceroyalty of the Marquis of Gelves. Arriving in Mexico in 1621, Gelves embarked on a programme of root-and-branch reform that polarized colonial society. Sudden and unexpected alliances were formed as church and state were split down the middle. Gelves' decision to support the friars over the secularization of parishes antagonized the Archbishop of Mexico, Juan Perez de la Serna, who had been supportive of his campaign to reduce corruption among royal officials. He now made common cause with his old enemies among the judges of the Audiencia. Finding their interests threatened by the viceroy's moves against corruption, the judges reversed their position and came out in support of control of the parishes by the secular clergy. The religious orders, as was to be expected, ranged themselves behind Gelves, with the exception of the Jesuits, traditionally at loggerheads with the mendicants, and the Carmelites, who had no Indian parishes of their own. The Inquisition, for its part, was on bad terms with the viceroy, and may have conspired against him behind the scenes, although the inquisitors attempted to pacify the menacing crowds by going in procession to the central plaza with crosses uplifted. But passions were running high, and on 15 January 1624, in the famous `tumult' of Mexico City, the mob attacked and looted the viceregal palace, forcing Gelves to flee for his life.80
The overthrow of Gelves, whose recall to Spain was made inevitable by the public humiliation he had suffered, vividly illustrates how even a church-state partnership drawn up on the state's own terms was unable to guarantee the crown's supreme representative immunity from clerical attack. `Thus', observed the renegade English Dominican Thomas Gage of the role played by Archbishop Perez de la Serna in the Gelves affair, `did that proud prelate arrogantly in terms exalt himself against the authority of his prince and ruler ... trusting in the power of his keys, and in the strength of his Church and clergy, which with the rebellion of the meaner sort he resolved to oppose against the power and strength of his magistrate."' A dependent church still possessed considerable room for manoeuvre in a corporate society in which each corporate body and institution enjoyed a semi-autonomous status and its own permitted sphere of action. Yet the church itself rarely spoke with one voice, thanks to the conflicting character and interests of its different constituent parts. While acting, or claiming to act, in pursuance of the highest ideals, these different branches of the clerical establishment were also responding to the more mundane pressures created by the nature of their relationship with the society in which they were embedded.
The consolidation of creole society in the viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru during the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries inevitably generated pressures for the `creolization' of the institutions of both church and state. In the early stages of colonization the Iberian peninsula had necessarily provided the bulk of recruits for the regular and secular clergy, but an increasing supply of qualified candidates became available among the children and grandchildren of the colonists as seminaries were founded in the Indies in accordance with the provisions of the Council of Trent. At the same time, Philip II's policy of secularizing parishes increased the availability of benefices for creoles entering holy orders, especially as Indians, and, for the most part, mestizos, were denied ordi- nation.82 Since Spanish-born secular clergy showed little interest in making a career in the Indies at the parish priest level, the lower and middle ranks of the clerical establishment in the Indies came to be occupied largely by creoles. Bishops for the most part continued to be appointed from Spain, but the numbers of native-born bishops began to rise from the reign of Philip III (1598-1621), who appointed 31 of the 38 creoles occupying American sees between 1504 and 1620.83
The secular church, therefore, offered an important extension to the employment possibilities open to creole youth, with the younger sons of the elite securing privileged access to the richer parishes and cathedral benefices. The extraordinary proliferation of religious houses across the continent also opened up new opportunities, this time for daughters as well as sons. Nunneries - a number of them, like Santa Clara in Cuzco, first intended primarily for the illegitimate mestiza daughters of the encomenderos - were conveniently appropriated by wealthy creoles for the accommodation of their female relatives, who brought dowries to the community in which they professed.84 Yet if the houses of the female orders established in town after town of Spanish America were locally founded institutions, designed to meet the needs of creoles and, to a lesser extent, of mestizos, the relationship of the creole community to the majority of the male religious orders was much more problematic.
The mendicants recruited heavily in Castile and Andalusia, and had an organized system for the despatch of their members to the mission field.85 Having pioneered the evangelization of the Indies, the several orders - Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians, Mercedarians - showed no enthusiasm for passing the spiritual baton to American-born colleagues, whose training for mission work and standards of religious discipline seemed to them to leave much to be desired.86 As a result, religious houses became an early battleground in the conflict between creoles and peninsulares, or gachupines, which was to become a permanent feature of Spanish American colonial life. Thomas Gage, moving from one religious house to another in Mexico and Guatemala during his ten years in America from 1627 to 1637, was eyewitness to the bad blood which turned the religious houses into warring communities: `they told us plainly that they and true Spaniards born did never agree.'87
1 This map-view of the great city of Tenochtitlan' is a woodcut illustration to the Latin edition of Hernan Cortes's second letter to Charles V, published in Nuremberg in 1524. On 8 November 1519 Cortes and his men crossed Lake Texcoco by the Ixtapalapa causeway, shown on the left, to make their entry into the city. At the centre of the map is the Temple of the Sun, with the Plaza Mayor beneath it.
2 Antonio Rodriguez (attrib.), Portrait of Moctezuma (Motecuhzoma II) (c.1680-97). Although this portrait of the emperor was made in Mexico in the late seventeenth century, the artist based his representation on images to be found in sixteenth-century codices.
3 New Description of America' from Abraham Ortelius, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. This map, from the 1592 edition of Ortelius's Atlas, published in Antwerp, shows the New World as it was known to Christopher Newport. Chesapeake Bay, shown on the map, was discovered in 1585 by a party of colonists from Roanoke Island led by Ralph Lane.
4 John White, Indians Fishing (watercolour, 1585?). John White was sent to Roanoke Island in 1585 by Sir Walter Raleigh to record the appearance of the people of Virginia. This watercolour is one of a number of vivid depictions of the life of Carolina Algonquians, which constitute the best visual record made by a European of any of the indigenous peoples of sixteenth-century America.
5 New England Natives Greeting Bartholomew Gosnold. Engraving from Theodor de Bry, America, book XIII (Frankfurt, 1628). Bartholomew Gosnold was captain of the Godspeed, one of the three ships on Christopher Newport's 1607 Jamestown voyage. Five years earlier he had made a reconnaissance of the coast of New England, which provides the setting for this idealized reconstruction of Algonquian Indians eager to trade with the newly arrived English, offering them strings of wampum, or beads made with shells, in return for knives. Once in Jamestown, Gosnold, like so many of his companions, succumbed to sickness and died within a few months of the colony's foundation.
6 Powhatan's mantle. Deerskin with shell decoration. Although known as a mantle, this deerskin may be a representation of the tribes or villages over which Powhatan ruled. Now preserved in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, it is first recorded in 1638 as the robe of the King of Virginia'. Originally it formed part of the famous collection of antiquities and exotica, known as The Ark', made by John Tradescant, gardener to King Charles I.
7 The Seal of the Massachusetts Bay Company. The seal emphasizes the commitment of the company to the conversion of the Indians. In the engraving, an Indian echoes the words spoken by 'a man of Macedonia' in a vision of St Paul: `Come over [into Macedonia], and help us.'
8 Simon van de Passe, Portrait of Pocahontas, engraving (1616). Following her famous encounter with Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, the daughter of Powhatan, was sent by her father on various occasions to the Jamestown settlement to act as an intermediary. Converted to Christianity and given the baptismal name of Rebecca, she was married in 1614 to John Rolfe and accompanied him to England with their infant son in 1616. Much feted in London, she fell ill and died in the following year while awaiting the departure of the ship that would take the family back to Virginia. Her marriage to one of the early settlers pointed to the path not taken in British America, where interethnic union was to remain relatively rare by comparison with the process of racial mingling in Spanish America.
9 Thomas Holme, A Portraiture of the City of Philadelphia in the Province of Pennsylvania in America (London, 1683). As can be seen from this 1682 town plan of Philadelphia, the grid-iron pattern of urban design, extensively used in Spanish America, was adopted by William Penn for the capital of his new colony. Penn stipulated that the streets should be fifty to a hundred feet wide, and that the houses be placed in the middle of their lots, thus setting a pattern that would be widely followed in North America.
10 Samuel Copen, A Prospect of Bridge Town in Barbados, engraving (1695). This, the first large panoramic view of an English colonial settlement, depicts the thriving seaport of Bridgetown, which had been largely reconstructed after a hurricane in 1675. Warehouses for the storage of sugar line the waterfront.
11 New World ethnography in the making. The Relaci6n de Michoacan (1539-40) provides a rich account of the history and customs of the Tarascan Indians of west-central Mexico in the period before the Spanish conquest. The author, possibly the Franciscan Jeronimo de Alcala, is shown presenting his manuscript to the viceroy, Don Antonio de Mendoza.
12 Gaspar de Berrio, Description of the Cerro Rico and the Imperial Town of Potosi (1758). The Cerro Rico, or silver mountain, rises in the background, while the town itself, built to a grid-iron plan, is laid out before it. To the left are the artificial lakes and dams constructed by the Spaniards to power the mills for refining the silver. While work goes on in the mines, a procession comes down the hillside carrying the banners of a religious confraternity. Situated in the high Andes, 13,000 feet above sea level, mid-eighteenth-century Potosi had a population of under 60,000, well down from that in 1600, when a population of over 100,000 made it one of the largest cities of the western world.
13 Jose de Alcibar, St Joseph and the Virgin (1792). Celestial bureaucracy in action. The Virgin and St Joseph act as intercessors, passing up petitions to Christ for decision. While earthly kingdoms were supposed to be modelled on the divine, this painting suggests that the Hispanic world modelled its image of the celestial kingdom on that of the hierarchical structure of a bureaucratized Spanish Monarchy with its elaborate processes of lobbying and petititioning, motivated by the assumption that services would in due course be appropriately rewarded by a grateful monarch.
14 Anon., Mrs Elizabeth Freake and her Baby Mary (c. 1671-74). Elizabeth Clarke was born in 1642, the daughter of a prosperous merchant from Dorchester, south of Boston. In 1661 she married John Freake, a recent immigrant, who became a substantial Boston merchant, and whose portrait by the same artist made a companion piece to this picture. The couple had eight children, the youngest of whom, born in 1674, was the baby daughter shown in the painting. Following her husband's death in an accident in the following year, Elizabeth Freake made a second marriage and survived until 1713. The double portrait of mother and child can be seen as a testimonial to the fruitfulness expected of the Puritan family, while Elizabeth's lace collar, silk dress and jewellery testify to the affluence of the mercantile elite in late seventeenth-century New England.
15 Andres de Islas, Four Racial Groups (1774). These four works, taken from a series of sixteen casta paintings by a Mexican artist, are typical of a genre that was highly popular in the eighteenth century. They illustrate well the attempt to devise a taxonomy for the gradations of racial mixture to be found in the viceroyalty of New Spain. Top row: 1. From a Spaniard and Indian is born a mestizo; 2. From a Spaniard and a mestiza is born a castizo. Bottom row: 3. From an Indian and a mestiza is born a coyote; 4. From a lobo, or wolf (the result of a union between an Indian man and an African woman) is born a chino.
16 Anon., Don Luis de Velasco the younger, marquis of Salinas (1607), second son of Don Luis de Velasco who governed New Spain as its second viceroy from 1550 to 1564. Educated at Salamanca University, he was a member of the entourage that accompanied the future Philip II to England in 1554 for his marriage to Mary Tudor. In 1560 he joined his father in New Spain, where he married the daughter of one of the conquerors of Mexico, Don Martin de Ircio, a wealthy encomendero. In 1590 Philip II appointed him to his father's former post as viceroy. In 1611 he was recalled to Madrid to become president of the Council of the Indies, a post from which he retired in 1617, dying the same year. Smoothly ascending to the highest levels of the imperial bureaucracy, he exemplified, like his father before him, the extensive deployment of patronage by American viceroys to reward relatives and dependants and form profitable connections with the creole elite.
17 Sir Peter Lely, Portrait of Sir William Berkeley. Governor of Virginia from 1641 to 1652, and again from 1660 to 1677, Sir William Berkeley (1605-77) stamped his personality on a troubled and faction-ridden colonial society, for which he harboured great ambitions. Like Don Luis de Velasco he had strong personal interests in the land and society over which he presided, and, again like Don Luis, governed through a circle of friends and dependants chosen from among the creole elite. His career, however, unlike that of Don Luis, ended in failure and disgrace. Resentment at his style of governance helped provoke Bacon's rebellion, and led to his recall in 1677 to England where he died, a broken man, before being able to clear his name.
18 Anon., Angel Carrying Arquebus. Peru, Cuzco school (eighteenth century). Andean artists developed in the later seventeenth century a unique iconography representing a celestial militia composed of elegantly attired angels and archangels, many of them sporting arquebuses. Alongside the biblical archangels, Michael and Gabriel, the series frequently showed apocryphal archangels, whose inclusion, regarded as heterodox in Europe, passed without challenge in America. The origins of the iconography remain uncertain. It could well reflect the teachings of Christian missionaries in the Andes, but depictions of a militant heavenly host carried echoes of pre-conquest religious beliefs which may help to account for its popularity among the peoples of the Andes. The angelic manoeuvres with the arquebus are borrowed from engravings of drill movements taken from Jacob de Gheyn's Exercise of Arms, first published in the Netherlands in 1607.
19 Anon., Santa Rosa of Lima and the Devil. Santa Rosa of Lima (1584-1617), canonized in 1671, was the first American to be made a saint. Although a native of Peru, her cult spread to other parts of Spanish America, including the viceroyalty of New Spain, as demonstrated by this late seventeenth-century painting from a retablo in the cathedral of Mexico City.
20 Anon. Plaza Mayor de Lima (1680). The painting testifies both to the splendour and preeminence of the viceregal capital, and to the diversity of the city's population. Behind the fountain at the centre of the Plaza Mayor rises the cathedral, with its baroque facade. Beside it stands the archbishop's palace, and, to the left of the painting, on the north side of the square, the viceregal palace. The proximity of the two palaces suggests the close union of church and state. The numerous figures in the plaza cover the spectrum of Peruvian colonial society, from members of the Spanish and creole elite, in carriages or on horseback, to Indian women selling food and fruit in the market and African water-sellers filling their jars.
21 A representation (1653) of the transfer in 1533 of the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe to its first chapel in Tepeyac, outside Mexico City. The two `republics' of Spaniards and Indians are clearly distinguished. In the Virgin's first miracle an Indian is cured, after being accidentally wounded by an arrow in a mock battle of Aztecs against Chichimecas. Her image is shown in the background being brought across the causeway to Tepeyac.
22. Anon., Return of Corpus Christi Procession to Cuzco Cathedral (c. 1680). The Spanish American city as the scene of open-air religious theatre. One of a series commissioned by the bishop of Cuzco showing different stages of the procession, which took place in a period of renewed civic confidence and splendour following the city's recovery from a devastating earthquake in 1650.
The antipathy was liable to come to a head during the elections periodically held for the appointment of priors, provincials and their councils. During the seventeenth century these elections came increasingly to pit creoles against peninsulares, and aroused the most intense passions not only in the religious houses themselves but throughout a society in which everyone had a relative in the religious life. `Such were their various and factious differences', wrote Thomas Gage of the election of a provincial for the Mercedarians, `that upon the sudden all the convent was in an uproar, their canonical election was turned to mutiny and strife, knives were drawn, and many wounded. The scandal and danger of murder was so great, that the Viceroy was fain to interpose his authority and to sit amongst them and guard the cloister until their Provincial was elected.'88
Both locally and in Rome the Spanish-born friars fought hard to prevent their orders in the Indies from being taken over by the creoles, and found a weapon to hand in the alternativa, which could be used to impose the regular alternation of creoles and peninsulares in election to office. The alternativa - or, for the Franciscans, a ternativa, stipulating the succession in turn of a peninsular who had taken the habit in Spain, a peninsular who had taken it in the Indies, and a creole - was to become a source of growing irritation to the creoles as they became the majority element in the orders. It also became an important political issue as viceroys sought to impose the system of alternation on different religious communities in a desperate attempt to keep the peace.89
Regular versus secular clergy, order against order, creole against native-born Spaniard, a state-controlled church all too often impervious to state control - these different sources of tension, conflicting and combining, ran like a series of electric charges through Spanish American colonial life. Storms could blow up very rapidly, as they did again in New Spain twenty years after the downfall of Gelves, when the Bishop of Puebla, Juan de Palafox, renewed the campaign for the secularization of parishes in his diocese, and became embroiled in a violent dispute with the Jesuits over their refusal to pay tithes. Once again the viceroyalty lurched into a major political crisis, with Palafox receiving the acclaim of the creoles, not least for his efforts to open up to them parishes controlled by religious orders which too often seemed unresponsive to creole aspirations.90 Yet, if animosity and vituperation abounded, the church could call on vast reserves of loyalty in a society where the Inquisition - less energetic than its peninsular coun- terpartN1 - exercised its policing activities over a colonial population well insulated from the danger of competing faiths by geography and the strict control of emigration in Seville.
The loyalty was inculcated from an early age by a church whose doctrines and ceremonial were woven deeply into the fabric of daily life. The wealth generated by the mining economies of the two viceroyalties made it possible to sustain a continuing programme of church building and refurbishing. In the nine years following his nomination as Bishop of Puebla in 1640, Palafox brought to a triumphant conclusion the construction of the city's magnificent cathedral, with the use of a labour force of 1,500 and at a cost of 350,000 pesos. This most austere of men had no compunction in devoting massive resources to a building that would proclaim to the world the glory of God and the power of His church.92 Everywhere, elaborate altarpieces and a profusion of images were the order of the day. Of the churches in Mexico City in the 1620s Thomas Gage wrote:
There are not above fifty churches and chapels, cloisters and nunneries, and parish churches in that city, but those that are there are the fairest that ever my eyes beheld. The roofs and beams are in many of them all daubed with gold. Many altars have sundry marble pillars, and others are decorated with brazilwood stays standing one above another with tabernacles for several saints richly wrought with golden colors, so that twenty thousand ducats is a common price of many of them. These cause admiration in the common sort of people, and admiration brings on daily adoration in them to these glorious spectacles and images of saints.93
The spectacle was carried out of the church doors into the streets in the innumerable processions which filled the liturgical year. Writing of the cult in Lima in his Compendium and Description of the West Indies, the early seventeenthcentury cosmographer Antonio Vazquez de Espinosa observed that `in few parts of Christendom is the Holy Sacrament brought out to such an accompaniment, both of priests ... and populace ... all in a vast concourse, and with universal devotion at whatever hour of day or night . . .' (fig. 22).94 The participation in these great processions not only of the civil and ecclesiastical authorities but also of the guilds and confraternities, competing with each other in the liberality of their contributions and the splendour of their floats, helped further to lock great sections of the populace into the ceremonial apparatus - and, with it, the ideology - of a state church in a church state.95
Inevitably the construction and adornment of churches, the maintenance of the cult and the upkeep of a large and imposing clerical establishment made continuing demands on the energy and resources of colonial society, of a weight and on a scale simply not to be found in British North America. Tithes, conceded in perpetuity by the papal bull of 1501 for the upkeep of the church in the Indies, were the foundation of the church's finances.96 Even if there was continuing uncertainty and confusion over the liability for tithes of land held by Indians,97 the growth of a prosperous agricultural economy meant a large and continuous flow of funds into the coffers of the church. These were supplemented by the usual fees for baptisms, weddings, funerals and other ecclesiastical services. The religious orders were dependent on alms-giving and charity, and their activities were financed by a vast outpouring of donations and pious bequests from creoles, mestizos and Indians alike.NB
The willingness of this population to found chaplaincies and convents, endow masses in perpetuity and leave property in its wills for the support of religious and charitable activities was both an expression of its devotion to a particular order or cult, and a form of spiritual investment promising longer-term if less immediately tangible benefits than the appropriation of wealth for secular activities. Founders and patrons of convents, for instance, could expect constant prayers to be offered up for the salvation of their souls and those of their family. In a society, too, in which identities were affirmed and status measured by conspicuous expenditure, spectacular expressions of piety performed an essential social function. Religion, status and reputation were intimately related and mutually reinforcing in Spanish American colonial society, and the pious benefactions which created a close association between a family and a particular religious institution bought for it not only spiritual benefits but also social prestige.99
But there were other, and more easily calculated benefits, too, to be gained from investment in the faith. As a result of the continuous flow of gifts and legacies, the church, in its various branches, became a property-owner on a massive scale. By the end of the colonial period 47 per cent of urban property in Mexico City belonged to the church,100 and the religious orders, with the exception of the Franciscans, acquired large tracts of profitable land through donations, purchase and transfers.101 By the time of their expulsion in the eighteenth century the Jesuits, as the most successful landowners of all, owned over 400 large haciendas in America, and controlled at least 10 per cent of the agricultural land of what is now Ecuador.102 Religious institutions thus became involved, either directly or indirectly, in estate management, and were often liable to find themselves with funds surplus to their immediate needs. With money to spare, once they had met the obligation imposed on them by the Council of Trent to be self-financing, they naturally sought outlets for the investment of their surplus capital. As a result, even in seventeenth-century Peru, unique in Spanish America for its seven public banks founded between 1608 and 1642, the church emerged during the course of the seventeenth century as a major - and frequently the major - supplier of credit in a society short on liquidity.103 Landowners, merchants and mining entrepreneurs would turn to ecclesiastical institutions for loans, in order to invest in new enterprises or simply to keep afloat, and those already possessing close family links with some religious foundation - through patronage, endowments and the presence of relatives as friars and nuns104 - clearly enjoyed privileged access to the facilities they could offer.
Since church teaching on usury made it impossible for convents and other religious institutions to advance money on interest, an alternative device - the censo al guitar - was imported from Spain. The prospective borrower, offering the institution a censo or fixed rent on a piece of property, effectively contracted to provide it with an annual return, disguised as an annuity payment, on the sum advanced. The rate of return, which was fixed by the crown, stood at 7.14 per cent in the later sixteenth century, but was reduced to 5 per cent by a royal decree of 1621.105 The collateral was provided by real estate. This had major implications for the colonial economy. The owners of haciendas and rural estates might find up to 60 or 70 per cent of the value of their properties swallowed up in payments to the church.106 Not all of this burden was the result of borrowing. A significant portion came from the encumbering of properties with censor established for the upkeep of capellanias or endowed chantry funds which would pay a priest to say a number of masses every year for the soul of the founder and other family members.107 But in both instances the effect was to channel rural wealth into the cities for the upkeep of urban clerics; and failure to meet the annual payments on loans could result in the passing into ecclesiastical hands of the property used as a collateral.
Already by the end of the sixteenth century concern was being expressed about the massive accumulation of real estate by the church,108 but it was not until the eighteenth century and the introduction of the Bourbon reforms that its power and resources would be clipped. The effects of mortmain, however, were not as uniformly negative as the eighteenth-century reformers liked to assert. If the various agencies of the church absorbed a substantial proportion of colonial resources, these at least remained in the Indies themselves, whereas the bulk of the crown's American revenues were remitted to Spain.'09 Within the Indies, the church's assets could benefit the local economy in various ways. It was in its own right a large-scale employer of labour, for the construction of cathedrals, churches and convents, while the credit facilities that it was able to offer could be used to finance economically or socially productive projects. The religious foundations, too, could be highly efficient landowners. In general they placed their rural estates in the hands of administrators, but the Jesuits preferred to involve themselves directly in exploiting the possibilities of the agricultural and grazing lands that passed into their possession, and proved themselves shrewd business managers when it came to developing important enterprises like sugar mills and textile workshops.`0
The income generated by these various activities was used to support not only the religious houses themselves but also hospitals, charitable works, missions and colleges. The educational system in Spanish America was overwhelmingly in clerical hands. The first university in the Americas, that of Santo Domingo, was a Dominican foundation of 1538. The universities of San Marcos in Lima (1551) and of Mexico City (1553), although royal foundations, were also the outcome of initiatives by the religious orders and were intended both as bastions of orthodoxy and as training-grounds for the clergy. On the model of the university of Salamanca, however, they contained faculties of law, medicine and arts, in addition to the faculty of theology.'1' At the level of primary education, while the religious orders made an intensive effort to provide instruction for the indigenous population, and especially for the sons of the Indian nobility,"' their schools and colleges also played an important part in the education of the sons (and to some extent also the daughters) of creoles. These were supplemented by private schools, perhaps set up by unbeneficed clerics and bachelors of arts newly arrived from Spain.113
Much of the teaching probably consisted of little more than instruction in the catechism, accompanied by the rudiments of reading and writing. The educational scene in Spanish America, however, was transformed by the arrival of the Jesuits in the later sixteenth century. With indigenous education already in the hands of the mendicant orders, the Jesuits turned their attention to the cities and to the unsatisfied demand of the creoles for instruction for their children. Moving into territory that had until now belonged largely to the Dominicans, the Jesuits created a network of colleges that spanned the cities and towns of Spanish America. These colleges were designed to provide creole boys, and especially the sons of the elite, with secondary education to a high standard, but many also included provision for elementary education where existing teaching arrangements were considered inadequate. The Jesuits' domination of creole education, often from the earliest years to university level, meant that a substantial section of the elite in the Spanish viceroyalties emerged from their years of schooling solidly grounded in the forms of learning and thinking prescribed by a fixed pedagogical system, the ratio studiorum. Uniformity of method was accompanied by uniformity of content, which assimilated the humanist tradition of classical studies within an officially approved theological framework. Whatever its other merits the system was not one that provided space for dissenting opinions or for individual responses to the challenge presented by exposure to disturbing new ideas. 114
Education and the confessional enabled the secular clergy and the religious orders, assisted by the Inquisition, to keep a close watch on the movement of thought. The high premium placed on conformity in the Spain of the CounterReformation was carried over by a natural extension to its transatlantic possessions, as constituent territories of a global monarquia which saw its mission as the defence of the faith against the assaults of Protestantism, Judaism and Islam. The religious culture of the American viceroyalties therefore tended to replicate, often in extravagant form as if they were struggling to assert their own distinctive identity through the display of exemplary orthodoxy, that of the mother country to which they were intellectually, emotionally and psychologically tied. The printing press, it was true, came relatively early to Spanish America. At the request of Fray Juan de Zumarraga, Bishop of Mexico, the house of Cromberger in Seville agreed to set up a press in Mexico City in 1539, eighteen years after the con- quest.115 Lima acquired its first publishing house in 1583, and was followed by La Paz in 1610 and Puebla in 1640,116 two years after the first press in British North America was set up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 117 These presses, however, were primarily devoted to the printing of religious manuals, catechisms, grammars, dictionaries and other works needed for the evangelization of the Indians, and the reading public remained overwhelmingly dependent, both for its religious and secular literature, on books imported from Spain.
The transatlantic movement of books, like that of people, was regulated in Seville with much bureaucracy and not a little inefficiency. Popular and fictional literature came under the purview of the secular authorities, which, notoriously, placed a ban in 1531 on the export of romances of chivalry to the Indies as being likely to corrupt the minds of the Indians." The inquisition, for its part, was solely concerned with the circulation of books prohibited on theological grounds. Inevitably conflicts of jurisdiction arose between the officials of the Holy Office and those of Seville's House of Trade. The frequent repetition of orders controlling and restricting the shipment of books, together with surviving inventories of the contents of private libraries in the viceroyalties themselves, make it clear that the orders were widely ignored. Even a decree of 1550 ordering that in future officials of the House of Trade should register books item by item rather than simply by bulk consignments failed to stop the contraband, and the operation continued to be undermined by laxity and fraud among the officials of the agencies involved in the inspection and registration of books for the Indies.119
By licit or illicit means, therefore, peninsular booksellers were able to supply their lucrative market in the Indies with most of the books, permitted and forbidden, which circulated covertly or openly in Spain itself. But, as in Spain, restrictions and prohibitions, combined with the dangers and difficulties of access to theologically unacceptable works, had the effect of closing off to the reading public wide areas of religious thought. Protestant writings, unless they were to be used by select individuals for the purpose of refutation, were ruled out on principle. So, too, was the Bible in the vernacular. Clerics and select laymen, however, were allowed access to the Bible in Latin, the Vulgate.120 Yet even this seems to have reached the Indies in relatively small quantities. In 1584 a Spanish bookseller, Ricardo Boyer, was in negotiation with an agent in Mexico City for the sale in the Indies of two hundred copies of the Bible with notes and commentaries by Francois Vatable, published in Salamanca that year, out of a stock of one thousand that was entirely in his hands. But the agent seems to have found the price of fourteen ducats high, and Vatable's commentary ran into serious problems with the Inquisition.121 In any event, Bibles did not figure heavily in the large amount of religious literature exported to the Indies - only three copies were included among the books registered in 1583 to 1584122 - and the mass of the laity is likely to have acquired only at second hand, through sermons and the reading of selected texts and commentaries, such biblical knowledge as it possessed.
By doing its best to seal off its American possessions from heterodox opinions, the Spanish crown in alliance with the church effectively instilled into them the sense of forming part of a moral community resting on the immutable principles of divine and natural law The character and boundaries of this community were determined by the Aristotelian and neo-Thomist philosophy which was the dominant cast of thought in Counter-Reformation Spain. It was a philosophy that was deeply sceptical of innovation, and heavily reliant on a set of authoritative texts. It placed a high premium on unity and consensus - a consensus based on the precepts of natural law rather than the movements of individual conscience, and which had as its overriding aim the furtherance of the common good. It elevated order above liberty, obligations above rights, and entrusted the maintenance of justice and good government within a hierarchically structured society to a monarch in whom the people had vested their sovereignty but who remained bound in conscience to conform to the dictates of divine and human law. 123
These beliefs, and the attitudes and assumptions that sprang from them, shaped the mental universe of Spanish American society during the three centuries of colonial life. It was a universe in which a variety of opinions could be, and were, expressed - for instance on such controversial issues as the status of the Indians. But they were opinions that emerged from, and remained within, a frame of reference that had been patiently constructed by generations of theologians and moralists, and given its definitive form by the Council of Trent. The dogma, once proclaimed, was immutable, and would be sustained in Spain and its American territories by the full weight of ecclesiastical and secular authority.
A plurality of creeds
The authority that was stamped across the face of Spanish America had no counterpart in the British territories to the north. The Protestant Reformation which gave them their religious colouring had begun as a movement of protest against one supreme authority, that of Rome, in the name of a higher authority, that of the Word. The outcome was a variety of creeds and confessions, which, even if seeking to impose their own authority by such devices as the creation of a new clerical elite and dependence on the coercive powers of the state, were themselves consistently open to challenge from those who found justification for their objections in their own unmediated interpretation of the Scriptures. At the same time, the newly emerging doctrinal traditions, Lutheran, Calvinist and Anglican, had been forced to take into account the diversity of interpretations to which certain key passages in the Scriptures lent themselves, and in the effort to accommodate them had constructed orthodoxies rich enough to allow of a range of possibilities on such fundamental questions as grace and salvation. This offered endless scope for debate, disagreement and creative construction among ministers and laity, thus complicating still further the task of maintaining a rigid control over the movement of inquiry and belief.124
The fissiparous character of Protestantism was compounded in British America by the fissiparous character of the process of settlement and colonization. Two distinctive forms of English religion laid claim to official status in their respective territories during the first decades of settlement, Anglicanism in Virginia and Congregationalism in New England. The terms of their charter made it impossible for the Roman Catholics to do the same in Maryland, where in any event they were in too much of a minority to be able to impose their faith. This left the way open in the colony for the coexistence of several different creeds.
Although Anglicanism was to be the official faith of Virginia, the crippling weakness of the Anglican establishment during the formative years of the colony125 ruled out any possibility that the institutionalization of religion would proceed under strong clerical leadership. The late seventeenth century would see the beginnings of an Anglican renaissance in Virginia and several other colonies'126 but by that time the nature of the church-state union which governed Virginia's religious life had already been determined. It was a union in which the initiative rested with the laity in their capacity as vestrymen, and not with the parsons, who - under a system unique among the mainland colonies except for Maryland - depended for their salaries on a colony-wide church tax.127 Few in number, and coming, as the majority of them did, directly from England, they lacked the support that might have been provided by local knowledge and connections, and were not well placed to shake Virginian society out of the spiritual torpor which had settled upon it during the early stages of the colony's development. 121
Writing in 1697, James Blair, a Scot who had been appointed commissary of the Bishop of London in a bid by the Anglican church to revitalize its establishment in America, reported scathingly on the temper of life in Virginia: `For welleducated children, for an industrious and thriving people, or for an happy government in church and state, and in short for all other advantages of human improvements, it is certainly ... one of the poorest, miserablest, and worst countries in all America that is inhabited by Christians. 1129 In fact, even as he wrote, the `improvements' for which he hankered were already under way. These owed much to his own efforts, and to the support that he received from the Bishop of London. But they also reflected the desire of the emerging planter elite to establish their volatile society on firmer foundations. In 1693 the College of William and Mary was founded under royal charter, with Blair as its first president. `It was a great Satisfaction to the Archbishops and Bishops', wrote Robert Beverley in his History and Present State of Virginia a few years later, `to see such a Nursery of Religion founded in that New World; especially for that it was begun in an Episcopal Way, and carried on wholly by zealous Conformists to the Ch. of England.' 130
The Anglican church now had its own seminary in America for the training of clergy `in an Episcopal Way', potentially creating a rival establishment to New England's Harvard College, which had been producing Puritan ministers since its foundation in 1636. As with the first universities in New Spain and Peru, the religious impetus behind the foundation of the two colleges did not exclude provision for the education of the laity. The lack of towns and the dispersed nature of settlement presented particular problems for the provision of adequate schooling in Virginia. Although some parents would continue to send their sons to England to be educated, the College of William and Mary, benefiting from the transfer of Virginia's capital in 1699 from the insalubrious Jamestown to what became the handsome new capital of Williamsburg, offered a socially acceptable and less expensive answer to the educational needs of the colony's elite. The sons of the new planter class emerged from their schooling as good Anglican gentlemen whose very visible presence at Sunday morning services made it clear to clergy and congregation alike who were the masters in colonial Virginia. As a seminary, however, for the training of Anglican clergy to minister to the spiritual needs of the Chesapeake region, it failed to live up to the hopes of its founders. An anticlerical Board of Visitors entertained more secular ambitions for Virginia's only college.13'
If a godly state was to be founded in British America, it would not be on the Chesapeake, but further to the north. The Puritans brought with them from England to the northern settlements a clear vision of the kind of community they wished to see established, although a much less clear one of the character of the relationship between ministers and laity on which its success would depend. In conformity with Calvin's own teachings, a godly state postulated a system in which church and state were two equal but separate entities, although harmoniously conjoined in the common enterprise of serving God's purpose. The immigrants' unhappy experience of the consequences of mixing the spiritual with the temporal in the country they had left behind them only served to reinforce their determination to prevent the re-creation in America of the apparatus of ecclesiastical power within a church-state alliance, of the kind which had caused them such suffering at home. Ministers, therefore, were - at least in principle - to exercise no temporal power, and the church handed over to the state such functions as the regularizing of marriages and the probating of wills, which in England fell within its province. For its part, the civil government of Massachusetts would have a broad jurisdiction over religious and moral offences, but would exercise it independently of the churches, and would not interfere in the disciplining of church members, which was the responsibility of the churches themselves.132
Discipline was regarded as fundamental if the errand were not simply to dissolve in the wilderness, but how it was to be maintained was not entirely clear. Reproof and correction were powerful moral sanctions in churches where the evidence of saving grace was a requirement for membership; but excommunication involved no civil penalties, and merely added the excommunicated to the large numbers outside who for one reason or another were deemed unworthy of taking their place among the ranks of the saints.
In a system which thus relied essentially on self-imposed and collectively reinforced discipline, the spiritual leadership and moral authority of the ministry acquired particular importance. In early New England, congregations which had been through deep waters with their ministers had a natural tendency to look to them for guidance. As a result, they often came to dominate their churches, some of them acquiring in the process the arrogance of power.133 But what was their exact status and the extent of their authority? All of them were elected by their congregations, but at the heart of the Protestant tradition lay an unresolved dilemma as to how far a minister drew his authority from his congregation and how far he derived it from membership in a sacred order.134
This question became acute as the New England churches were caught up in vigorous internal debate about the criteria for church membership and about whether the ministry should devote its efforts to converting the unregenerate or to nurturing the spiritual growth of the members themselves.135 Discord rent the churches of Massachusetts and Connecticut as congregations accustomed to exercising their own authority in the running of their churches came into conflict with ministers who claimed that they were entitled to a unique position by virtue of the ministerial call. Any attempt by ministers to determine controversial questions in occasional ministerial meetings and synods was liable to lay them open to the charge that they were subverting the cherished ideal of congregational independence. The presence in New England of a vociferous Presbyterian minority added substance to the fears that the Congregational way could be replaced by the Presbyterian system of church government, with its hierarchy of presbyteries, synods and assembly above the congregations. 136
The doctrinal disagreements, the feuds and the quarrelling came against a backdrop of falling church membership, the result partly of the rise in New England's population and partly of the discouraging obstacles to membership imposed by the churches themselves. By 1650 half the adult male population of Boston was outside the church. 117 The Half-Way Covenant of 1662 was designed to remedy this disturbing situation by making church membership more accessible, but was rejected by congregations concerned that the new proposals would lead to a relaxation of the high standards that they themselves had met. As membership fell, and the churches increasingly turned in on themselves in their preoccupation with maintaining their denominational purity, the new generation of Harvard-trained ministers laid the blame for setbacks on the failings of their congregations, while themselves being uneasily conscious of the distance between their own spiritual stature and that of the heroic generation of ministers that was now passing away.138
If many ministers still retained their dominance over their congregations, the spiritual leadership of a whole society which they had once envisaged was slipping from their grasp. Too many of them could agree neither with each other nor with their congregations, while the world around them was visibly being transformed. On the one hand they were confronted by religious indifference among too many of the new immigrants, and on the other by the growing religious pluralism of the surrounding society. Not only had the Restoration of 1660 given the Church of England a new assertiveness, but the sects that had sprung to life and flourished in England during the Civil War period - notably the Quakers and the Baptists - had crossed the Atlantic to provide increasingly vigorous competition to the Anglican and Congregational churches alike.
The very character of settlement in British North America made it impossible in the long run for orthodoxy, whether of the Anglican or the Congregationalist variety, to hold the line against the encroachment of new sects and new beliefs. Already in the 1630s Roger Williams, following sharp disagreements with his colleagues, had removed from Massachusetts to found a settlement in Rhode Island that promised full liberty of conscience. This alone, he believed, could guarantee the true separation of church and state, in place of the equivocal form of separation that he deplored in the Bay Colony. North America provided ample space for religious initiatives of this kind, and each new colony had its own religious climate, which could well prove attractive to those who for one reason or another were dissatisfied with what they found on offer in their own place of settlement. A trickle of colonists from Massachusetts, for instance, began moving into the Connecticut River Valley in 1635-6 under the leadership of Thomas Hooker, who objected to the restrictiveness and rigidity of the approach to church membership that was being adopted by John Cotton of Boston and his fellow ministers.139 A generation later a further migration from Massachusetts occurred, this time of Presbyterians into neighbouring New Netherland/New York, where the Dutch Reformed Church offered them a system of church government more to their liking. '40
The method of founding colonies through the grant of a royal charter provided obvious openings for minority faiths, as the Catholic proprietors of Maryland had demonstrated before the Civil War. In the 1670s the Quakers sought to take advantage of the proprietary system in East and West Jersey. They did so again, and to considerably greater effect, when William Penn secured a charter from Charles II for the founding of his new colony of Pennsylvania in 1681. There were many `holy experiments' on American soil, running from the millennial kingdom of the Franciscans in New Spain and the Jesuit missions in Paraguay to New England's `city on a hill' and the ideal communities that began to proliferate from the late seventeenth century onwards with the arrival in America of Protestant evangelical and pietist sects - Mennonites, Amish, Moravians and others. Pennsylvania, however, stands out for the breadth and practicality of its original conception, and the potential that it offered for creative change in the society that surrounded it. The tendency of `holy experiments' is to create closed systems as a result of their single-minded pursuit of a supreme ideal. Penn's holy experiment had the opposite effect of encouraging the development of an open and tolerant society. The result was an impact that would eventually be felt throughout the western world.141
In the eyes of William Penn and his fellow Quakers the `Inner Light' that guided them was not simply reserved for a select few but was to be found in everyone. This meant that the new colony, unlike Massachusetts, was designed from the start not only as a place of refuge for persecuted members of a single religious group but for all believers in God who wished to live together in harmony and fellowship. Liberty of conscience was to be its guiding light. The idealism, however, was accompanied by a strongly practical approach. In founding his colony, Penn could draw on his close connections with the world of the court and of business, and also on previous colonial experience through his proprietary interest in Quaker settlements in West Jersey. Although a strong partisan of liberty, he had somehow to devise a frame of government for his new colony that would balance the conflicting demands of liberty, order and his own interests as proprietor. This was something that the Fundamental Constitution prepared for Carolina by the Earl of Shaftesbury and John Locke in 1669 had failed to achieve, and it was a goal that he, too, would find frustratingly elusive.
Earlier attempts at colonization had made clear the need for substantial and continuing investment from the mother country during the early stages of settlement, and Penn's skilful promotional campaign netted six hundred investors.142 Both they and potential immigrants had to be assured that economic prospects for the future colony were sound. The 45,000 square miles of land so cavalierly signed away to him by Charles II under the flattering name of Pennsylvania proved to be ideal for attracting the kind of hard-working, self-reliant and godly settlers whom he saw as the mainstay of his colony. The fertile soil of the Delaware Valley and the Piedmont hills offered perfect opportunities for the farmers, who, as small landowners, would constitute the backbone of his agrarian utopia. They would also need an Atlantic port to export their produce and receive supplies from Britain. The excellent location of Philadelphia on the banks of the river Delaware promised easy trading connections with the West Indies and the wider Atlantic world.141
Drawing on his close relationship with the extended Quaker merchant community, Penn was able to launch his new colony in style, with the despatch over the course of 1682-3 of some fifty ships carrying four thousand settlers and ample supplies. He was concerned from the start to build up peaceful relations with the native Americans by negotiating land deals, in advance of any settlement, with the sparsely settled Delaware Indians, whom he described as `a Careless, Merry People yet in Property strict with us'.144 If planning alone could build a New Zion in America, then the one now being founded on the banks of the Delaware had a better chance of succeeding than any of its predecessors.
In the event, many of the high expectations, including those of Penn himself, were to be defrauded. The cumbersome Frame of Government that he drew up in 1682 failed to create the kind of well-ordered but free society which he had envisaged. Faced with a virtually unlimited expanse of rich and fertile land, Quakers succumbed as easily as less godly settlers elsewhere in North America to the fever of land hunger and land speculation. An elite of merchants and larger landowners emerged to block the founder's efforts to shape and control the development of the infant colony; and the anti-authoritarian attitudes inherent in the religious culture of the Society of Friends was hardly sympathetic to direction from above. As Penn discovered to his cost, it was not easy to be the proprietor of a colony in which access to the Inner Light was regarded as a universal birthright. Nor did political and social harmony follow automatically from the Society's practice of seeking consensus by way of long and scrupulous deliberation. There was feuding between Quakers and Anglicans, and bitter disagreement between the elite and those who discovered that, even in a society based on spiritual equality, socially at least some were more equal than others.145 Religiously, too, an already divided community was subjected to further splintering soon after a Scottish Quaker, George Keith, arrived from the jerseys in 1689 to become the head of Philadelphia's Latin School. By directly challenging the authority of travelling Quaker ministers, known as Public Friends, with his plans for stricter discipline and his insistence on the importance of the Scriptures to salvation, he plunged the Society into schism.146
Yet for all the turmoil in Pennsylvania's politics and religion in the 1680s and 1690s, the colony, if not exactly a New Zion, had at least the makings of an unusual and promising experiment. Penn had travelled through the Rhineland as a missionary in 1677, and his recruitment campaign in the early 1680s was directed not only to the British Isles but also to Holland and Germany. The Quaker network, extending to continental Europe, was to prove crucial for establishing the future direction of the colony. Leaving the continent through the port of Rotterdam, a group of Quakers and other religious dissenters from Germanspeaking territories established a settlement at Germantown in 1683. The signal had been given. Pennsylvania stood ready to welcome all those who wanted to escape the constraints of the Old World for the sake of a better life in the New, irrespective of their creed or nationality.
Although the name `Germantown' was symbolic of what the future held in store, Germans would not in fact begin immigrating in large numbers until the late 1720s, many of them attracted to Pennsylvania as much by its economic as its religious possibilities.147 From the start, however, Pennsylvania offered itself as a haven both for the economically aspiring and the religiously distressed. As the news spread back in Europe, a growing stream of immigrants, many of them arriving with their families, landed in Philadelphia to build for themselves new and better lives - British and Dutch Quakers, Huguenots expelled from the France of Louis XIV, Mennonites from Holland and the Rhineland, Lutherans and Calvinists from south-west Germany. As prospective settlers they looked forward to establishing their own independent family farms, which they would build up through hard work and mutual support. As God-fearing Protestants, they would enjoy, many of them for the first time, the right to worship as they wished, without fear of persecution.
In embarking on a `holy experiment' for the harmonious coexistence of peoples of different nationalities and adherents of all faiths, Penn was foreshadowing the religiously and ethnically pluralist society that British North America would in due course become. At the time of Pennsylvania's foundation, toleration in many colonies was at best only grudging, but the lack of any effective mechanism for the enforcement of orthodoxy left them with no option but to move, however hesitantly, down the road that would lead, as in Pennsylvania, to free religious choice.
The great changes in England produced by the Glorious Revolution and the Toleration Act of 1689 provided additional sanction for the route that was being taken. It is true that the Toleration Act was a strictly limited measure. In Maryland in the wake of the Glorious Revolution, Roman Catholics were progressively barred from public life, and eventually, in 1718, lost their right to vote. Similarly, in 1705 the Pennsylvania assembly was forced by pressure from the crown to exclude Roman Catholics, Jews and non-believers from the enjoyment of political rights.141 Yet the Act represented a grudging recognition that uniformity of belief and practice was no longer regarded as indispensable for the survival of the British polity. As such it reflected what had long been the reality on both sides of the Atlantic. Dissenting Protestants had come to stay. So too, it seemed, had the Jews, whose tacit readmission to England by Cromwell had not been reversed by Charles II.
Since the middle years of the seventeenth century small communities of Sephardic Jews had been establishing themselves on mainland North America, initially in New Netherland, and then in 1658 in Newport.149 The majority of them came by way of the British and Dutch Caribbean, to which a number had fled from Brazil after the Portuguese recovered it from the Dutch in 1654. The acceptance of their presence in the British colonies provided a neat counterpoint to the fate which overcame them or their brethren in the Iberian New World. Although from the beginnings of colonization the Spanish crown had prohibited the entry of Jews or New Christians (conversos) into its American possessions,"' a continuous trickle of New Christians - among them the seven brothers of St Teresa of Avila151 - managed to get through. Following the union of the crowns of Spain and Portugal in 1580 the policy of exclusion became virtually unworkable. New Christians, many of them covert Jews, had not only settled in Brazil but were also the dominant element among the Portuguese merchants who controlled the transatlantic slave trade, and they seized the opportunity offered by the union of the crowns to establish themselves in the Spanish American ports of Vera Cruz, Cartagena and Buenos Aires.152 From here they infiltrated the viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru, where they became a significant presence, particularly in Lima.
Although the objects of constant suspicion by the Inquisition, which was always on the lookout for signs of Jewish practices, the New Christians clearly felt that the risks were well worth taking. There was obvious scope for profitable commercial activity in the silver-rich viceroyalties, and for at least sixty years after 1580 they made an important contribution to Spanish American economic life, some of them simply as small traders, shopkeepers and artisans, but others as wealthy merchants. Both as Portuguese and as suspected Jews, however, they were disliked and distrusted in the Spanish territories, where opinion hardened against them in the 1620s and 1630s. In 1639 Lima was the scene of an impressive auto de fe, and their vulnerability increased dramatically when the Portuguese revolution of 1640 dissolved the union of the crowns and anyone of Portuguese origin was liable to be regarded as a traitor. In Mexico alone some 150 `judaizers' were seized by the Inquisition in the early 1640s, and the anti-converso campaign reached its climax in the terrible `great auto de fe' held in Mexico City on 11 April 1649, when thirteen of them were burnt at the stake, and twenty-nine abjured.is3
Although sporadic trials of suspected crypto-Jews would continue into the eighteenth century, the great days of the clandestine Jewish presence in Spanish America were at an end. But, in part at least as a consequence, Jews were to find a fresh field for their enterprise and skills in a British America where there was no Inquisition to harass them, and no necessity to conceal their faith. Their coming, like that of the Quakers, added yet another distinctive piece to the patchwork quilt of creeds and cults that was beginning to cover the north Atlantic seaboard.
With a growing diversity of faiths, British American religion at the end of the seventeenth century stood in a very different relationship to both society and the state from that which prevailed in the American territories of the Spanish crown. Orthodoxy, whether of the Anglican or Congregationalist variety, had failed to impose itself. The apparatus of an ecclesiastical establishment, in the form of a clerical hierarchy, church courts and a regularized system of taxation for the payment of the ministry and the propagation of the faith, was notable by its absence. Religious pluralism, more or less tolerated, was becoming the order of the day. As a result, the clergy were having to compete with each other in an increasingly crowded market-place. Nor was it easy for them to assert their authority in a diversified and often vociferous lay society, some of whose members resolutely refused to recognize them as special conduits of grace and found in the inspiration of the Holy Word, or an Inner Light, a sufficient guide to salvation.
The implications of all this for the development of colonial society were profound. Religious diversity reinforced the political diversity that was already such a striking feature of British American colonial life. The collective Puritan ideal of ordered liberty, which was enshrined in the 'Body of Liberties' adopted by the General Court of Massachusetts in 1641, inspired a style of political life very different from that of Anglican Virginia, where `liberty' involved, at least for the governing class, a minimum of restraint.154 In the Middle Colonies religious diversity, coming on top of a growing social and ethnic diversity as Scottish, ScottishIrish, French and German immigrants began arriving in increasing numbers, contributed to the political instability of the region as a whole.155
The unstable combination of religious and political diversity enhances the impression of British America as an atomized society in a continuous state of turmoil. At first sight this appears truer of the Middle Colonies and the Chesapeake than of New England, where the collective values and ideals of a covenanted people had struck deep roots, and where the magistrates continued to take with extreme seriousness their duty to support the church and ensure that the people remained true to the terms of the covenant. Yet even New England had never been the tranquil society which its own historians liked to depict, and the collective discipline of a godly state was always fragile and precarious.116
The turmoil and confusion, however, also reflected the vitality of New World Protestantism, made up as it was of unresolved tensions - between institutionalized authority and the free movement of the spirit, between the aspirations of individuals and those of the group with which they had entered into a voluntary association. These tensions offered the prospect both of continual spiritual turmoil and of no less continual spiritual renewal as the pendulum of religious life swung between institutional attempts to impose discipline and spontaneous outbursts of revivalist enthusiasm imbued with millenarian hopes.
In so far as the tensions were capable of resolution, they would find it in the shared biblical culture that was the foundation of religious life in British North America. The Bible was to be found everywhere - in the libraries of Virginian gentlemen, and in the households of New England, which might possess it in two formats, `great' and small. 117 Since the university presses of Oxford and Cambridge held the monopoly printing rights, colonial printers were not allowed to publish it, although the newly founded press in Cambridge, Massachusetts, exploited a loophole in the legislation to produce in 1640 the first printing of what was to be the extremely popular `Bay Psalm Book'.151 Virginia had no permanent printing press until 1730 and, like New England, imported its Bibles, along with much other religious literature, from England.159 If the high cost of book imports kept sales down, the Bible was an overwhelming priority. The language and the culture of the colonies were infused with biblical references and turns of phrase, and white children in eighteenth-century Virginia would use Bibles for their reading primers.160
A biblical culture encouraged literacy and gave an impetus to schooling, both private and public. Behind the laws passed in Virginia and New England in the 1640s for the promotion of schooling there may well have lurked an anxious preoccupation with the upholding of standards of civility in a remote and savage environment'161 but religion was integral to civility. `If we nourish not learning,' wrote John Eliot as plans for the foundation of Harvard College were being mooted, `both church and commonwealth will sink.'162 The prime responsibility for the training of the young lay with the family, as the Massachusetts statute of 1642 made clear in reminding parents and the masters of servants of their duty to ensure that the young were able `to read and understand the principles of religion and the capital laws of this country'. Further legislation in the same decade ordered that each family should engage in weekly catechizing, but also made provision for formal schooling in every town of over fifty families. 161
The early commitment to education in New England and Virginia, as reflected in their legislation, left an enduring legacy,164 but its effects are difficult to measure. In Virginia, where schooling was so difficult to organize, literacy among white males, as measured by the ability to sign rather than simply make a mark, rose from 46 per cent in the 1640s to 62 per cent around 1710.165 In New England, by the same criterion, 60 per cent of adult men and 30 per cent of adult women were literate in 1660, although this form of measurement would class as 'illiterate' many who, if they could not write their names, may well have learnt the rudiments of reading.166 By 1750 literacy in New England would approach 70 per cent among men and 45 per cent among women - exceptionally high figures by the standards of contemporary Europe.167 Unfortunately, no literacy figures are available for the creole population of the Spanish American viceroyalties. Letters from sixteenth-century settlers writing home to friends and relatives make a point of emphasizing the opportunities for immigrants who could read and write;161 but for all the efforts of the Jesuits it seems doubtful whether, even in the cities, where education was at its strongest and literacy was seen as a means of social ascent, literacy rates among creoles approached those attained in the British colonies by the late seventeenth century.
A biblical culture obviously provided the mass of the population with a strong incentive to achieve an entry into the world of print. A member of the party of Spaniards shipwrecked on Bermuda in 1639 noted how `men, women, youths, boys and girls, and even children all carry their books to church' for Sunday morning and evening services. It is impossible to know how many of the congregation were actually able to follow on the printed page the passage read aloud by the minister, but the sight was a novel one to the Spaniard, who was impressed by the `silent devoutness' of the congregation. 169
If the surprise expressed by the shipwrecked Spaniard testifies to Hispanic ignorance of the character of the Protestant society that was emerging in British North America, British North Americans were at least as ignorant of the Hispanic societies to the south of them. Contacts between the two worlds were becoming more frequent, especially as clandestine trading relations developed with the Spanish Caribbean islands; and the founding of South Carolina meant that a group of British settlers now found themselves closer to Spanish St Augustine than to the Chesapeake settlements of their own compatriots. `We are here in the very chaps of the Spaniard,' wrote a settler to one of the Carolina proprietors, Lord Ashley, the future Earl of Shaftesbury. 170 But greater proximity did not necessarily bring with it a greater understanding.
Mutual perceptions had been shaped by stereotyped images developed over the course of a century of Anglo-Spanish conflict and were liable to be periodically reinforced by some new incident or publication. 171 Oliver Cromwell, whose antiSpanish attitudes were those of an Elizabethan gentleman, was encouraged in his ambitious Western Design by Thomas Gage, whose The English-American first appeared in 1648, and was subsequently republished three times before the end of the century.172 Partly no doubt to reinforce his credentials as an enthusiastic convert from Rome to Anglicanism, Gage misleadingly presented Spanish America as a fruit ripe for the picking. But he also gave a vivid first-hand account of life in New Spain - the first such account of any substance to come from a non-Spanish source. His descriptions of convent life were appropriately lurid, and amply confirmed Protestant assumptions about the scandals and depravity of the Roman church.
One New Englander who owned a copy of Gage was Cotton Mather.173 Reading the book, Mather could hardly fail to be struck by the contrast between the sobriety of his own society, for all the many failings that he so constantly lamented, and the episodes of wickedness and debauchery retailed by Gage in the course of his travels in central America, where `worldliness' was `too too much embraced by such as had renounced and forsaken the world and all its pleasures, sports, and pastimes'.'74 To a man of Mather's spirit, the contrast could only have opened up a vista of new opportunities. `I found in myself', he wrote in 1696, `a strong inclination to learn the Spanish language, and in that Language transmitt Catechisms, and Confessions, and other vehicles of the Protestant-Religion, into the Spanish Indies. Who can tell whether the Time for our Lord's taking possession of those Countreys, even the sett Time for it, bee not come?""
In due course, after the Lord had wonderfully prospered him in his undertaking, Mather wrote and printed a tract, La religion Pura, designed to bring the light of the gospel to the peoples of that benighted Spanish world.176 In 1702, after he had been `much engaged both in public and private Supplications, that the Lord would open a way for the Access of His glorious Gospel into the vast regions of the Spanish America', he received with excitement the news of the Grand Alliance against Bourbon France and Spain, with the commitment of the English and the Dutch to make themselves the masters, if they could, `of the Countreys and Cities under the Dominion of Spain in the Indies'.177 The day of redemption was surely close at hand.
Mather's hopes were not, after all, to be realized. There was more resilience in Spain's American possessions than he, or the Protestant world in general, could appreciate. Nor were all the comparisons necessarily to the advantage of the British colonies. Uniformity of faith had given Spanish America, for all its social and ethnic diversity, an inner cohesion that still eluded the British colonies. But could a society based on uniformity of faith adjust to new ideas? On the other hand, could a society with a diversity of creeds achieve stability? As the eighteenth century opened, the test was yet to come.