Episcopacy and power: the construction of the Iberian Empires in Early Modern Age

Map of Malaca, in Bocarro, António, Livro das plantas de todas as fortalezas, cidades e povoaçoens do Estado da India Oriental, 1635.

Kevin Carreira Soares (PIUDHist – ICS/ULisboa)

In the Early Modern Age, the Iberian Monarchies used the Church as a mean of asserting more effectively their authority. In this process, which historiography calls confessionalization, one of the most important tools was the control over the episcopal nominations. The right of patronage over all bishops’ elections served within a system of projecting the royal authority, not only by reinforcing the institutional presence of the Kings’ authority in all territories, but also in supporting certain individuals or groups that deserved the Royal favour, increasing relations of fidelity and submission, within all political agents. In the Empires, the bishops’ presence and the formation of Dioceses followed closely the rhythms of both Expansion processes, erecting new cathedrals in territories that needed to be reorganized administratively, reinforcing the institutional presence of the political power and its capacity to intervene in local governing.

Within this framework, the present project aims to study the episcopate appointed for the archdiocese of Goa, and the dioceses of Malaca, Macao and Funai (Portuguese padroado) and the archdiocese of Manila, and the dioceses of Nueva Cáceres, Nueva Segovia, Cebú (Spanish padroado) between 1558 and 1658, representing 48 appointments (22 for the Portuguese dioceses and 26 for the Castilian Dioceses). It is objective to analyse how the diocesan network and the sending of bishops was an important tool for the construction and better perception of the Imperial territories, by both crowns. At the same time, this project aims to observe the evolution of each diocese in the symbolic economy of the two monarchies, through the analysis of individual cases that are better representatives of certain aspects of the episcopal power.

Abstract of the PhD Research Project by Kevin Soares, PIUDHist, hosted by ICS-ULisboa. Supervisor: Ângela Barreto Xavier (ICS-ULisboa). Funded by the fellowship FCT – PD/BD/128124/2016