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The Catholic Church's Role in the Disintegration of the Spanish Colonial Empire. The Case of the Viceroyalty of New Granada

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This article analyzes aspects of the complex process that led to independence in the Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada. It focuses on the role of religion and of social actors that have not been sufficiently taken into account in traditional historiography. The latter has paid much attention to political and economic aspects, but has disregarded other important changes that propelled the independence process, profound socio-cultural transformations and events that indicate the complexity of the process. First of all, this was not just a revolution from above and the historical periodization has to be reworked as a result of the Borbonic Reforms, with their leaning toward enlightenment. We must not consider the military uprisings as the starting point of the emancipation from the Spanish crown. Even though the colonial societies did not follow the same path as the European bourgeois revolutions with their proposed liberal perspectives, important changes did indeed happen, in which all social groups were implicated. From both the religious and particularly the women's historical perspective we can see the important transformations that took place. Examples are provided of how women of the popular classes triggered the process. Likewise, women amongst the educated elite, large sectors of the Creole clergy and some educational institutions were important agents of the ideological changes, by propagating new ideas. All these, in turn, paved the way for the further diversification of the ideological and religious landscape of Latin America during the independence period.

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