*4. [Ensure you pick up on attribution (provenance) and that you confront the limitations as well as the benefits of these sources. This will require some knowledge of context.]
Source F presents an 'autobiographical' image of an insecure Church: one that feels itself not only besieged by anti-clerical legislation, but victimized by a biased constitution (paragraphs 1 and 2). It is clear that the bishops' stand on the Republic is 'accidentalist', desiring change from within: they exhort their readers to apply all possible pressure to have draconian laws repealed. The provenance tells us that the letter was published in El Debate. This provenance underlines lay Catholics' support for the bishops' denunciation of the Republic in 1931-2, a republic that, it is implied, is subverting traditional Spain and the religious means to uphold it. However, in this edited extract, the historian misses the full force of the bishops' attack, especially on secularist education policies. Moreover, it should not be assumed that all practising Catholics were anti-Republic. Conversely, Canon Albarrán condoned the notion of a violent uprising against the Republic, which makes Source F look positively restrained. Finally, it should be remembered that governments proved friendly to the Catholic Church between November 1933 and February 1936: to this extent, too, the evidence in Source F should be treated with caution.
Source G can be taken as an authoritative statement of JAP policy in the early years of the Republic. (Acción Popular had until April 1932 been known as Acción Nacional; from March 1933 it would be the keystone of CEDA.) Source G denounces what it sees as arbitrary and autocratic behaviour by Azaña's government and a partisan judiciary. But the tone is ambiguous and the historian would need to be alert to this. 'Forget rebellion' sounds 'accidentalist'; but 'all avenues for legal action are closing' suggests that a future assault on the Republican state per se cannot be ruled out. Thus, for the historian, Source G is a pointer to the JAP's latent 'catastrophism'. This is confirmed by later events: in 1935 JAP called for an authoritarian system and for Marxists and Freemasons to be wiped out; by the spring of 1936 it was marching en masse into the ranks of the Falange.
Finally, Sources F and G express only a corridor of views held by two groups and their supporters in 1932. For a fuller picture of opposition to the left during 1931-6 it would be necessary to consult evidence from, for example, such militant monarchists as Calvo Sotelo; the Falange; and anti-Republic factions within the armed forces.
Was this article helpful?