The regular clergy in Spain and Portugal

The question of the numbers of the regular clergy remained a controversial problem in Spain throughout the modern age. The most notable increase in the regulars had occurred between the end ofthe sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth, especially with the establishment of the Capuchins, the Jesuits, the Hospitallers, and later the Piarists. At the same time there was an increase in the number of mendicant convents, while the Benedictine orders remained largely constant. The new religious impulse of the age, the generosity ofcertain members ofthe nobility, rivalries between different communities known for their large memberships, and the piety of the rulers: all contributed to this increase in numbers. Even in 1787, after the expulsion of the Jesuits, there were still over 52,000 religious in 2,067 convents throughout the kingdom.

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