from which the missionary had but to sweep away an effete superstructure to erect a loftier and more durable one. The aborigines were deeply imbued with religious ideas, and trained from childhood to regular habits of worship and ritual; the houses of the gods, numerous and often magnificent, were held in deep veneration, and endowed with extensive estates; the superiority of the great "Dios" of the Spaniards—a title understood by the Indians to be the proper name of a deity to whose worship the people of Europe were especially devoted—had been abundantly manifested in the military successes of his votaries; conversion was insisted on by the conquerors; and as the images of the old deities were destroyed, their shrines defaced, and their rites forbidden, compliance was dictated by the very spirit of aboriginal paganism. In Mexico, where the ancient rites demanded human sacrifices in vast numbers, and in a cruel and repulsive form, their abolition was effected with comparative ease. In Peru, where human sacrifice was chiefly limited to infant victims, who were simply strangled and buried, the Indians were more firmly attached to their old religion; and a serious obstacle to its abandonment lay in their devotion to the practice of ancestor-worship. Long after the mass of them had accepted the doctrine and practice of Christianity, they secretly offered sacrifice to the desiccated bodies of the dead; and a rigorous and prolonged inquisition had to be organised and carried into effect before the idolatry of Peru was extirpated. Meanwhile the settlement of the Church proceeded on the general lines recognised in Europe; but in America, as in the Spanish districts conquered from the Moors, the Holy See forbore some of its prescriptive rights in favour of the Crown. Notwithstanding the ordinances of the Lateran Council, Alexander VI in 1501 granted to the Crown all tithes and first-fruits in the Indies. The consideration for this "temporalisation" of property which of right belonged to the Church was the conquest of territory from infidels, and their conversion to Christianity. The right of patronage in all sees and benefices was also vested by the Pope in the Spanish sovereigns, as fully as had already been done in the case of the Kingdom of Granada, subject only to the condition that it should remain in the Crown inalienably. The Crown was further appointed the Pope's legate in America. The limits of dioceses were at first laid down by the Popes; but even this right, together with the power of dividing and consolidating them, was granted to the Crown, and no American Bishop could return to Europe without the Viceroy's licence. The Church in America held its own Councils, under the direction of the metropolitans of Mexico and Lima; and no appeal in ecclesiastical matters was carried to Rome. The Crown obtained the income of vacant sees, a part of which was assigned to the defence of the coasts against heretic pirates. These concessions were amply justified by the immense revenue which poured into Rome from Spanish America in the form of donations, of proceeds
Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/97
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