Angels, Demons and the New World

Angels, Demons and the New World

Language: English

Pages: 330

ISBN: 0521764580

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


When European notions about angels and demons were exported to the New World, they underwent remarkable adaptations. Angels and demons came to form an integral part of the Spanish American cosmology, leading to the emergence of colonial urban and rural landscapes set within a strikingly theological framework. Belief in celestial and demonic spirits soon regulated and affected the daily lives of Spanish, Indigenous and Mestizo peoples, while missionary networks circulated these practices to create a widespread and generally accepted system of belief that flourished in seventeenth-century Baroque culture and spirituality. This study of angels and demons opens a particularly illuminating window onto intellectual and cultural developments in the centuries that followed the European encounter with America. The volume will be of interest to scholars and students of religious studies, anthropology of religion, history of ideas, Latin American colonial history and church history.

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indigenous deity whom the Mendicants identified most closely with Lucifer – and hence the devil character’s own master. The devil tries to persuade Julian that his case is hopeless, telling him, for example, that ‘all the great scholars have pondered it and what they see in the books is that he cannot possibly be saved’. His parents are in hell because they died in anger, a state of mortal sin. The devil shows Julian a false vision of his father burning in hell and excoriating his son. But Julian

soul. In one, a young nobleman named Don Julia´n falls under the influence of an immoral woman named Don˜a Ine´s. It is she who is hauled off to hell by demons, in this case represented by Satan and others numbered one, two and three. In one scene the four demons pose as two young men and two young women going to confession. Here the guardian angel is successful in rescuing his charge and the extant script ends with a scene in which the angel and Don Julia´n are conversing. This does not seem

some Christian traits; certainly she was not thinking of hell. What is significant is to find the ancient term in an eighteenth-century testament conveying a meaning that was markedly different from that propounded by the Church; it leads us to consider that Christian conceptions of heaven and hell may not have penetrated indigenous societies in the way that the Church wished. It could be difficult to determine if Melchora Marı´a, Marı´a Clara, Nicola´s de los Angeles and the other testators of

necessity; it will be a sort of luxury in the Creation, its existence will be more or less probable. To be sure, the rights of strict monotheism will have been vindicated, but at the same time a new situation will have been created for man in the cosmos, a situation that will have deplorable consequences for one of the allies. The heavens will have been ‘laicised’, depopulated of their angelic presences. The earth, become a planet like the other planets, will no longer be under the heavens but in

imperial devotion played a central role in the coronation of the dynastic founder of the Spanish Hapsburgs: The first Hapsburg emperor, Rudolph I, was elected on the feast of St Michael . . . and since the exaltation of the House of Austria had its beginnings in that holy angel, in him it will also find its preservation: for the same disposition that gives rise to a form preserves that same form. It seems that there is a mystery, too, in the fact that at the coronation of this great emperor

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