Before its sudden disintegration in the first decades of the nineteenth century, for three centuries the Spanish Monarchy had comprised a vast territorial entity which stretched across the Atlantic and was bound by strong political and cultural links. And — as written sources reveal — despite both the enormous distances separating the mother country from her American possessions and some viceroyalties from others, and the great variety of contexts, climes and circumstances, the elite classes of this huge and heterogeneous human and territorial group shared a handful of basic beliefs. Amongst those, the Catholic religion was without doubt the most significant. On account of its capacity to inform, shape and determine the behaviour of the people, the Catholic view of the world was truly the very centre of the system: not for nothing was this political entity known for centuries as ‘the...

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