In the wake of the Council of Trent, the Catholic Church mandated the printing of new, uniform religious texts. This article examines the manner in which the Hieronymite monastic order in Spain responded to the council’s directive. It demonstrates that the Hieronymites, despite their own reforming activities and their extraordinarily close relationship with the Spanish monarchy, at first rejected and then rather abruptly embraced the new texts when Philip II bestowed on them the exclusive right to print, vend, and distribute the new Tridentine books across the Spanish empire. As the purveyors of the reformed books, however, the Hieronymites fell out of step with their clerical brethren, which led members of the Spanish church to challenge the Hieronymite privilege at both the royal court and the Holy See. While the Hieronymite monopoly withstood challenges for decades, the order’s relationship with the new texts demonstrates that Catholic reform, even in close proximity to Trent’s strongest secular supporter, was sometimes driven more by temporal than spiritual concerns.
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