|dc.description.abstract||The opening phrase of the title succinctly states the economic
situation of the Church in eighteenth century Honduras. This study comprises
an analysis of episcopal leadership, the relationship between
royal authorities and the Church, tithe administration, collection,
and distribution in theory and practice, and the origins of anti-clerical
Liberalism in Honduras at the close of the Bourbon era. Appendices
provide a revised list of bishops who served the diocese and tithe
yields for Comayagua [Honduras], Guatemala, Leon [Nicaragua], Chiapas,
New Spain [Mexico], Chile, and Havana [Cuba]. A glossary of Spanish
colonial terms is included.
Although colonial Honduras was too poor to attract ambitious
Spanish clerics, the bishops appointed to serve Comayagua were, as a
group, estimable men. Five of the appointees, including the reknowned
Antonio de San Miguel, were transferred to more prestigious and lucrative
positions. In contrast to the traditional Liberal historical
interpretation which claimed that the Church and clergy contributed
nothing to the economic progress of Central America, this study shows
that the bishops sought to increase tithe income by promoting agricultural
production. They also introduced the collection of the first
fruits in order to improve the economic condition of the lower clergy.
Cattlemen, "burdened with increasing royal taxation for defense expenditures
and local costs, attacked the Church and clergy and resisted
obligatory contributions by employing anti-clerical Liberal arguments.
Tithe income was not solely used for ecclesiastical purposes.
By the middle of the reign of Charles III forty per cent of the tithe
revenues was designated for the treasury of the civil government. This
amount rose to sixty per cent by 1821, the date of Independence.
This study is based primarily upon original colonial documents
in Honduras and Guatemala. Other materials consulted include various
books, journals, dissertations, theses, and papers from private and
public libraries in Central America, Mexico, and the United States.||