Religious Transformations in the Early Modern Americas

Religious Transformations in the Early Modern Americas

Stephanie Kirk
Sarah Rivett
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Religious Transformations in the Early Modern Americas
    Book Description:

    Christianity took root in the Americas during the early modern period when a historically unprecedented migration brought European clergy, religious seekers, and explorers to the New World. Protestant and Catholic settlers undertook the arduous journey for a variety of motivations. Some fled corrupt theocracies and sought to reclaim ancient principles and Christian ideals in a remote unsettled territory. Others intended to glorify their home nations and churches by bringing new lands and subjects under the rule of their kings. Many imagined the indigenous peoples they encountered as "savages" awaiting the salvific force of Christ. Whether by overtly challenging European religious authority and traditions or by adapting to unforeseen hardship and resistance, these envoys reshaped faith, liturgy, and ecclesiology and fundamentally transformed the practice and theology of Christianity.

    Religious Transformations in the Early Modern Americasexplores the impact of colonial encounters in the Atlantic world on the history of Christianity. Essays from across disciplines examine religious history from a spatial perspective, tracing geographical movements and population dispersals as they were shaped by the millennial designs and evangelizing impulses of European empires. At the same time, religion provides a provocative lens through which to view patterns of social restriction, exclusion, and tension, as well as those of acculturation, accommodation, and resistance in a comparative colonial context. Through nuanced attention to the particularities of faith, especially Anglo-Protestant settlements in North America and the Ibero-Catholic missions in Latin America,Religious Transformations in the Early Modern Americasilluminates the complexity and variety of the colonial world as it transformed a range of Christian beliefs.

    Contributors: Ralph Bauer, David A. Boruchoff, Matt Cohen, Sir John Elliot, Carmen Fernández-Salvador, Júnia Ferreira Furtado, Sandra M. Gustafson, David D. Hall, Stephanie Kirk, Asunción Lavrin, Sarah Rivett, Teresa Toulouse.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-9028-8
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    From 1492 through the revolutions of the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth centuries, Christianity took hold in the Americas. Subjected to persecution or seized with evangelical fervor and the promise of spiritual fulfillment in new settings, friars, lay converts, ministers, secular clergy, and nuns moved across the Atlantic Ocean in pursuit of the life that they believed to be dictated by their faith and of a place free from what they perceived to be the corruptions of Europe an society. Upon arriving in Boston, Salvador da Bahia, Quito, Jamestown, or Mexico City, spiritual seekers formed convents, colleges, congregations, Praying...

    • CHAPTER 1 Religions on the Move
      (pp. 25-45)
      J. H. ELLIOTT

      In hisGeneral History of the Indies, published in 1552, Francisco López de Gómara famously observed: “The greatest event since the creation of the world (excluding the incarnation and death of Him who created it) is the discovery of the Indies.”¹ It would take time to realize the full implications of Columbus’s landfall, but Columbus himself had no hesitation in relating it to God’s providential design for the salvation of the human race.² Future ages might see the event as marking a decisive moment in what would become the inexorable advance of Europe toward global domination, but for contemporaries and...

    • CHAPTER 2 Baroque New Worlds: Ethnography and Demonology in the Reformation and Counter-Reformation
      (pp. 46-78)

      During the sixteenth century, Europe ans displayed varied, conflicted, and often contradictory attitudes about the religions of the peoples whom they encountered in the “Indies.” Thus, while Christopher Columbus had famously claimed, in the (now lost) “Diario” written on his first transatlantic voyage in 1492 and paraphrased by the Dominican monk and defender of the Indians Bartolomé de Las Casas, that “they [the Arawak of the Bahamas] would easily be made Christians” as it appeared to him that “they had no religion,” at the end of the sixteenth century the Spanish Jesuit José de Acosta, perhaps the most influential sixteenth...

    • CHAPTER 3 Martín de Murúa, Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, and the Contested Uses of Saintly Models in Writing Colonial American History
      (pp. 79-106)

      The provision of good examples has always played a key role in missionary endeavor, both to attract and instruct converts, and to memorialize the qualities of those who would assume this task. In the Christian tradition, the paragon in both domains is understandably the example set by Christ himself. There has nevertheless been little comparative study of this phenomenon in the early Americas due in part to differences between Catholics and Protestants on the issue of individual sanctity.¹ The Catholic Church endorsed the celebration of martyrs and other saintly persons as a means to incite its adherents “to the adoration...

    • CHAPTER 4 Transatlantic Passages: The Reformed Tradition and the Politics of Writing
      (pp. 109-130)

      “What must I know about seventeenth-century New En gland?” a doctoral student preparing his field exams in American religious history asked me a year ago. All too conscious of the tides that ceaselessly sweep in and out of “Puritan Studies,” I hesitate. But the student is already alert to my proclivities: certain questions endure, as do attempts to answer them. Some of Perry Miller, therefore (certain essays and chapters), and Edmund S. Morgan. Something as well on doctrine that has the depth of E. Brooks Holifield’s work on the sacraments; a reading on “declension” that avoids any oversimplifying dichotomy between...

    • CHAPTER 5 Dying for Christ: Martyrdom in New Spain
      (pp. 131-158)

      The theme of martyrdom in Spanish America signified a revival of the experience of Christianity contending with pagans and nonbelievers that had previously played out in Europe as a saga that pitted Catholic manhood against diabolic forces and that promised the highest reward for its efforts. Thus, when Fray Jerónimo de Mendieta, a Franciscan who spent his life at the service of his order in sixteenth century New Spain, wrote a history of the Franciscan endeavors there, he dedicated a special section of his book to the martyrs. Addressing the Christian readers, he defined the meaning of “martyr” in the...

    • CHAPTER 6 Believing in Piety: Spiritual Transformation Across Cultures in Early New England
      (pp. 161-179)

      Piety has a central place in the study of colonial New England—and by extension, in the successive schools of thought about the origins of the United States and U.S. exceptionalism. It is part of broad arguments like Max Weber’s, for explaining the deeply felt emotional drive of a certain kind of capitalism. It plays a role for those who argue that the New England Puritan Way transformed into a secular republic with a patriotism deeply structured by piety. It is crucial for arguments about the transformations of religious feeling that ebbed and flowed through a series of religious revivals...

    • CHAPTER 7 Return as a Religious Mission: The Voyage to Dahomey Made by the Brazilian Mulatto Catholic Priests Cipriano Pires Sardinha and Vicente Ferreira Pires (1796–98)
      (pp. 180-204)

      This chapter analyzes the mission to Dahomey undertaken by the Brazilian Catholic priests Cipriano Pires Sardinha and Vicente Ferreira Pires between 1796 and 1798.¹ My aim is to raise provocative considerations about various aspects of the voyage, but I shall limit my discussion to the religious aspect of the mission to convert the king of Dahomey, Agonglo or Adanruzâ VIII (1789–97)² and his subjects to the Catholic faith. This essay will explore what Robin Law terms the “combination of missionary with commercial enterprise,” assuming that, ever since the fifteenth century, as Europe ans spread their power to Asia, Africa,...

    • CHAPTER 8 Jesuit Missionary Work in the Imperial Frontier: Mapping the Amazon in Seventeenth-Century Quito
      (pp. 205-228)

      Geography as a scientific practice developed in the early modern period in connection with the emergence of the new European empires.¹ Chorography, a branch of geography devoted to the study of individual places—their inhabitants, climate, and vegetation—assured the specificity of knowledge required to support imperial power over a distant territory, varied and extensive. In Spanish America, too, scientific geography was closely linked to the spiritual and material conquest of indigenous peoples. The inextricability between apostolic work and imperial possession is particularly evident in maps and accounts of the Amazon Basin produced in seventeenth-century Quito by Jesuit authors. Both...

    • CHAPTER 9 “Reader . . . Behold One Raised by God”: Religious Transformations in Cotton Mather’s Pietas in Patriam: The Life of His Excellency Sir William Phips, Knt.
      (pp. 231-251)

      Sir William Phips was a Maine-born ship’s carpenter, trea sure seeker, and entrepreneur, who discovered a vast cache of sunken Spanish silver off the coast of Hispaniola in 1687. He was knighted by King James II, adulated in London and Boston, and later, by dint of his transatlantic fame and his military exploits in Canada, nominated by prominent New English minister Increase Mather as the first royal governor under a much-contested royal charter negotiated by Mather with William and Mary in the wake of England’s “Glorious Revolution” of 1688. As governor of Massachusetts from 1692 to 1695, Phips became embroiled...

    • CHAPTER 10 Between Cicero and Augustine: Religion and Republicanism in the Americas and Beyond
      (pp. 252-264)

      Historical studies of the emergence of the modern republic focus on the Anglo-American world, and much of the scholarship proceeds on the assumption that the modern republic was the creation of Protestants, particularly dissenting ones. This assumption informs J. G. A. Pocock’s monumentalThe Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition(1975), which moves from Renaissance Florence to the English Civil War to the American Revolution, and portrays James Harrington as providing an important linkage between republican revival and dissenting Protestantism. It is likewise visible in J. H. Elliott’s masterful comparative study,Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain...

  8. NOTES
    (pp. 265-330)
  9. List of Contributors
    (pp. 331-334)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 335-350)
    (pp. 351-354)