A partisan of French methods, Moratin published in 1762 his Desengano al teatro espanol, a severe criticism of the national drama, particularly of the auto sacramental; and his protests were partly responsible for the prohibition of autos three years afterwards (June 1765).
Between 1581 and 1776 as many as fifty-nine heretics were burned at Lima, and there were twenty-nine " autos "; but the Inquisition affected Europeans rather than natives, for the Indians, as catechumens, were exempted from its terrors.
The autos da f e of Seville and Madrid, the flames to which Bruno, Dolet and Paleario were flung, the dungeon of Campanella and the seclusion of Galileo, the massacre of St Bartholomew and the faggots of Smithfield, the desolated plains of Germany and the cruelties of Alva in the Netherlands, disillusioned Europe of those golden dreams which had arisen in the earlier days of humanism, and which had been so pleasantly indulged by Rabelais.
Autos-da fe were rare events; their victims were not as a rule serious thinkers, but persons accused of sorcery or Judaizing, nor were they more numerous than the victims of the English laws relating to witchcraft and heresy.
Another poet of the same school is Balthazar Dias, the blind poet, whose simple religious autos are still performed in the villages, and are continually reprinted, the best liked being the Auto of St Alexis, and the Auto of St Catherine.
At the same time the old dramatists had to face the opposition of the classical school, which appealed to the cultured, and the hostility of the Inquisition, which early declared war on the popular plays on account of their grossness, and afterwards through the index prohibited altogether even the religious autos, as it had condemned the Italian comedies.
Though we know that much has perished, the four Indexes of the 16th century give some idea of the rich repertory of the popular theatre, and of the efforts necessary to destroy it; moreover, the Spanish Index of 1559, by forbidding autos of Gil Vicente and other Portuguese authors, is interesting evidence of the extent to which they were appreciated in the neighbouring country.
The latter part of his reign, and also the inordinate squandering of money, the autos-da-f in the provinces and in Paris, the harsh repression of reform and free thought, and the sale of justice; while the nation became impoverished and the state was at the mercy of the caprices of royal mistressesall of which was to become more and more pronounced during the twelve years of Henry IIs government.
The return trip from Grand Junction had taken Dean twice the usual two hours, a slalom of ditched autos, snow plows, ice and stopped traffic.