Feijóo, Benito Jerónimo (1676–1764)

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Feijóo, Benito Jerónimo (1676–1764)

Benito Jerónimo Feijóo (b. 8 October 1676; d. 26 September 1764), Benedictine monk who popularized modern European ideas in Spain and the colonies. Feijóo studied in Galicia and Salamanca before becoming professor of theology at the University of Oviedo. Through reading foreign works, Feijóo became aware of his country's intellectual backwardness, which he attempted to correct with his nine-volume collection of essays, Teatro crítico universal (1726–1739) and five volumes of Cartas eruditas y curiosas (1742–1760). The wide range of subjects he covered included literature, art, philosophy, natural science, mathematics, geography, and history.

Feijóo questioned contemporary medicine, exaggerated devotion to the saints, and religious superstition. He tried to persuade his countrymen that scientific progress need not undermine religious belief. Although his enlightened skepticism aroused controversy, he remained devoted to the Catholic faith and found favor with Ferdinand VI, who silenced his critics with a royal order in 1750. While few of Feijóo's ideas were new, many were relatively unknown in eighteenth-century Spain and its colonies. His writings enjoyed enormous popularity at home and, in part because of his favorable view of creoles' abilities, in the Indies.

See alsoBenedictines; Catholic Church: The Colonial Period; Creole.


University Of Oviedo, P. Feijóo y su siglo, 3 vols. (1966).

Ramón Otero Pedrayo, El padre Feijóo: Su vida, doctrina e influencias (1972).

Additional Bibliography

Ardao, Arturo. Logica y metafísica en Feijóo. Montevideo: Biblioteca de Marcha, Facultad de Humanidades-Centro de Estudios Gallegos, 1997.

González Feijoo, José Antonio. El pensamiento ético-político de B.J. Feijoo. Oviedo: Pentalfa Ediciones, 1991.

López Vázquez, Ramón. Opadre Feixoo, escolástico. Santiago de Compostela: Xunta de Galicia: Centro de Investigacións Lingüísticas e Literarias "Ramón Piñeiro," 1995.

Xavier, Adro. Feijóo: cátedras y críticas: vienen los Borbones. Barcelona: Editorial Casals, 1994.

                              Suzanne Hiles Burkholder