Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Paul E. Hoffman


The reform of Mexican convents in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century generally has been shown to have been ineffective. I suggest that reform at the Observant Franciscan community of Santa Clara of Havana achieved much better results. While conventual reform in Cuba did not attain perfection, it followed the pattern of administrative, economic and military reform in that it was more effective on the island than it was elsewhere in the Spanish empire. The success of conventual reform in Havana must be attributed to the diligence of the Spanish Crown. Whereas the reform of convents in Mexico became a local concern after 1780, its counterpart at Santa Clara garnered the attention of Madrid down to the abdication of Charles IV in 1808, and beyond. It must be recognized, however, that effective reform did not always equate to beneficial reform. The same reforms that reduced the number of religious and secular females living at Santa Clara and re-established communal life at the convent also divided the community and robbed it of its vibrancy.