Although they no longer possessed the religious and political status of the sixteenth-century episcopate, the Spanish bishops of the early seventeenth century continued to provide the principal model for the episcopal hierarchies of the whole of Europe. In the fifty-four Spanish dioceses, expanded to sixty in the eighteenth century, the bishops were all chosen by royal appointment. The majority had previously been canons of the cathedral chapters, and possessed university qualifications, most commonly degrees in canon and civil law. However, there were also bishops who had emerged from the regular orders, generally from the ranks of the Franciscans and Dominicans, who were
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