for the most part graduates in theology. In every case, the candidates were asked to provide evidence of limpieza de sangre, i.e., proof that they were not descendants of recently Christianized families (cristianos nuevos). Although the royal appointment system meant that there was the possibility of openings for candidates from economically modest backgrounds, nonetheless, candidates with aristocratic origins, whether from the upper or lower nobility, were very considerable in number.

Even if the Inquisition attempted to encroach in those areas which it believed to be within its competence, and sometimes attacked the bishops' authority and jurisdiction, the bishops remained very active in pastoral care. The residence requirement was generally respected, excepting the large dioceses of Toledo and Seville, whose incumbents were often assigned to political and diplomatic missions on behalf of the monarchy.

No prominent personalities stand out among the Spanish bishops of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They were stately individuals who had a heightened awareness of the responsibilities of their office. In the seventeenth century, they dedicated themselves to extensive charitable activities on behalf of the poor. During the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, this interest was extended to some extent into civil, cultural, and social concerns. In the later eighteenth century the Spanish episcopacy generally supported Charles III's reform initiatives, in particular, the battle which would lead first to the expulsion of the Society of Jesus from Spain, and then to the Jesuits' suppression by the papacy in 1773. But the bishops also maintained a strong sense of tradition in relation to 'modernity', and a belief in the harmful consequences of ideas deriving from the French Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic invasion.

The Portuguese episcopate was similar to the Spanish, in terms of its appointment by the king, its pastoral activity, and its relations with the Inquisition, although it differed in its eighteenth-century evolution towards a more aristocratic recruitment. The patriarchal office of the see of Lisbon, obtained from John V at the beginning of the century, was reserved for the nobility, and the bishops of the other twelve Portuguese dioceses all originated in the court aristocracy or the minor nobility. As a consequence the ecclesiastical and episcopal structures were more closely linked to the state in Portugal than they were in Spain. Such links helped produce the long Rotura between Portugal and Rome from 1759 to 1769, and facilitated the minister Pombal's policies against the religious orders, especially the Jesuits.

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