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The Phoenix and the Flame: Catalonia and the Counter Reformation
In 16th century Europe, culture and religious belief were so enmeshed that, together, they informed and underpinned every act, however mundane, of every ordinary man or woman. The Reformation ushered in revolutionary changes in Western society, but the people of Catholic Europe have usually been regarded as little affected. Spain, in particular, is...
In 16th century Europe, culture and religious belief were so enmeshed that, together, they informed and underpinned every act, however mundane, of every ordinary man or woman. The Reformation ushered in revolutionary changes in Western society, but the people of Catholic Europe have usually been regarded as little affected. Spain, in particular, is supposed to have escaped the winds of change entirely. By considering the life of one small, but lively and distinctive, rural community, and the broader Mediterranean society of which it was part, "The Phoenix and the Flame" shows, how in Catholic Europe there in fact took place powerful changes which affected the daily life, belief and culture of the common people. Drawing exclusively on unpublished documents and on the wealth of books published during the period, the author looks at the popular culture of Catalan Spain, at the changes wrought by the Counter-Reformation, administrative reforms, the place of the community in religious belief, attempts to change popular festivities and celebrations, the far-reaching innovations in marriage and sexuality, the role of the Inquisition and of the Jesuits, the problem of witchcraft, and the impact of the new ideas retailed in foreign literature on local language and the printed word. This study of Catholic society of the pre-industrial period, offers some novel perspectives on the basis of the evidence for Catalonia, Spain's most vital and individual province. Kamen's Catalonia was a traditional society in which official dogma and morality played little part in everyday life, in which church marriage and the concept of Purgatory were little known, a society where control by the Inquisition was scorned, and extensive freedom of the press survived. By contemplating popular religion and culture from the bottom rather than from the top, Henry Kamen offers insights into an epoch normally studied and assessed only in the light of political events and presents a vision of the culture and society in Golden Age Spain.
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