This introductory chapter discusses the theme of this volume which is the urban culture of mendicant orders in New Spain from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. This volume covers five orders in a dozen cites over more than two centuries. It traces the evolution of the orders' status and roles in colonial society and analyzes their urban functions. This volume also considers the competing strands of urban Catholicism and examines the orders' interactions with one another and with urban residents.
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