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.
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.
The popular autos that have survived are mainly religious, and show the abuse of metaphor and the conceits which derive from Gongora.
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).
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.