In the eighteenth century the Mexican Church experienced spiritual renewal and intellectual reform. The establishment of Franciscan missionary colleges, of the Oratory, and of convents and sisterhoods was to the great benefit of the diocese of Michoacan. Thriving confraternities demonstrated the vigour of parochial life. But the secular clergy remained divided between a wealthy elite and an impecunious mass of curates and country vicars, with the cathedral chapter dominated by a group of enlightened peninsular canons. Charles III and his successor expelled the Jesuits, secularised mendicant parishes, investigated closely popular religion, stripped the clergy of their immunity from royal courts and then seized their wealth. In 1810 priests from the Michoacan diocese led the popular Insurgency which challenged Spanish rule. Here therefore is a rounded portrait of the Mexican Church at its meridian, touching upon virtually all aspects of religious life. At its core is the clash between post-Tridentine baroque Catholicism and enlightened despotism.
"The style of inquiry and the level of research established in Miners and Merchants are equally evident in Church and State, and as in his earlier works on Bourbon policies and practices, Brading approaches the rift between church and state in a multi-layered rather than linear fashion." Colonial Latin American Historical Review "Church and State, in short, is an instructive work that illuminates a variety of aspects of the Church, religious life, and the Church-State relations in late Bourbon Michoacan. ...all students of Spanish America in the late colonial period should read this informative final volume in Brading's trilogy on Bourbon New Spain." The Americas "In his intricate, superbly researched and highly persuasive study, Brading provides argument and data to help us understand why the efficiency-minded Bourbon state, no longer viewing the church as its mainstay of authority over society but rather as a lucrative source of funds for the treasury, ultimately eroded the bases of its colonial stability." Journal of Interdisciplinary History "Brading poses the tensions well, as he describes the differences between the devotional life encouraged by the religious orders and the secular clergy so closely tied with wealth and power." Christian Sociologist Newsletter "...a coherent and complimentary history of the Mexican church in a empire at first determinedly rational and finally driven to desperation." Hugh M. Hamill, Canadian Jrnl of Latin Anerica & Caribbean Studies