The Patronato (literally: "Patronage") system in Spain (and a similar padroado system in Portugal) was the expression of royal patronage controlling major appointments of Church officials and the management of Church revenues, under terms of concordats with the Holy See. The resulting structure of royal power and ecclesiastical privileges, was formative in the Spanish colonial empire. It resulted in a characteristic constant intermingling of trade, politics, and religion.
The counterweight to the patronato system was provided by Jesuit missions, whose allegiance lay with the hierarchy of their Order, directly responsible to the Pope. The beneficiaries of the Portuguese padroado opposed the authority of the vicars apostolic in the Asian missions.
In the successor states to the colonial empires, the conservative Establishment of Church and ruling class continues to be referred to as the patronato.
- Gustav Voss, "Early Japanese Isolationism" The Pacific Historical Review 14.1 (March 1945:13-35).
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