Catholicism in the Second Spanish Republic: Religion and Politics in Salamanca, 1930-1936

Catholicism in the Second Spanish Republic: Religion and Politics in Salamanca, 1930-1936

Catholicism in the Second Spanish Republic: Religion and Politics in Salamanca, 1930-1936

Catholicism in the Second Spanish Republic: Religion and Politics in Salamanca, 1930-1936

Synopsis

The Second Spanish Republic survived unchallenged for a mere five years, its fall plunging Spain into a bitter civil war. Mary Vincent examines this crucial period in Spanish history. She demonstrates how political choice was eroded under the Second Republic, and reveals how popular religiosity came to be the Right's most potent weapon. Her fascinating analysis throws new light on the origins of the Spanish Civil War and on the vexed question of who bore ultimate responsibility for the conflict.

Excerpt

On 14 April 1931 the Second Republic was declared in Spain. Centuries of monarchical tradition--interrupted only by the brief republican interlude of 1873-4--were abandoned within hours. Yet, just over five years later, in July 1936, a failed military coup sparked off a bitter civil war which was to rage until April 1939. The Republic, which had come into existence without a shot being fired, ended in bloodshed. The rapidity of this descent into civil war has long fascinated historians and the process of political polarization, which characterized the Second Republic, has been plotted at both governmental and popular level.

As the gulf between right and left loomed ever larger during the course of the Republic, party divisions became increasingly embittered. Religion played a crucial role in this process. This study of Salamanca--an area of high, but not exceptional Catholic practice--shows how questions of religious identity came to assume a major political significance. The book concentrates on precisely this interrelationship of religious and political concerns. It begins with a picture of the rich and varied religious culture which characterized contemporary Salamanca, going on to examine how this Catholic world responded to the Republic. The first part of the book looks at the beliefs and traditions which made up Catholic practice in 1930s Salamanca as well as the pastoral challenges facing the local Church among both those receptive and those indifferent to its arguments. While some salmantinos were agnostic, atheist, or anticlerical and more were unconcerned with religion or lax in attendance at church, most were, at some level, Catholic.

The new Republic's legislation affected ordinary devotional life, including rites of passage, and it was not only the most scrupulous Catholics who became resentful. As many of the ordinary faithful came to feel excluded from, and even assaulted by, the new Republic, so those who aspired to lead them insisted that Catholics had only one political choice. After many preliminaries, a confessional party, the CEDA, was established in 1933 to articulate that choice. Voting for the CEDA was presented as a simple duty; good Catholics would go to mass on Sunday, contribute financially to the maintenance of the Church, and support the political right.

The history of Salamanca between 1930 and 1936 clearly demonstrates the continuing importance of popular religious belief and practice and, above all, the interconnectedness of religion and politics in Spain in . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.