Compared to other European countries, one of the characteristic features of the expansion of literacy in Spain since 1500 has been the lack of firm and sustained religious, political, and ideological goals for its promotion and support. Also, the advancement of literacy in Spain has been much more dependent than elsewhere on schooling and on urbanization through migration from rural areas. Therefore, an analysis of literacy in Spain will be of special interest because of the contrast it provides to the countries of central and northern Europe and because of the opportunities it offers for an examination of the relative roles of central and local governments and of the Catholic church. Moreover, as Spain is a country with both a rich oral tradition and a significant written literature, we can investigate the complex and peculiar relationships between orality and literacy, between oral and written languages and cultures. And, in a region noted for its linguistic complexity, this analysis can be combined with a study of the clashes and interactions between two or more oral and/or written languages (Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Castilian, Catalan, Basque, Galician), the development of literacy in one or more of them, and their uses in the family, religious, administrative, and school domains. As this latter issue of linguistic conflict is much too complicated for a short article, it will not be discussed here.