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Narratives of Adversity

Jesuits on the Eastern Peripheries of the Habsburg Realms (1640–1773)

By Paul Shore

Publication Year: 2012

Addresses the experience of Jesuit missionaries, teachers and writers along the peripheries of the Habsburg lands, which stretched to Moldavia, Ukraine, Serbia and Wallachia, and which were continually torn with ethnic tensions. The time scale of the study is from the “high tide” of the Society (often labeled “the first multinational corporation”) in the fourth decade of the seventeenth century, until its suppression in 1773 by Pope Clement XIV. The book examines several of the communities situated along the periphery and the records that they left behind about their interactions with the local populations. It constructs a vivid picture of Jesuit life on the frontier that is built up in mosaic fashion and livened by compelling anecdotes. The Jesuits of Royal Hungary exercised a baroque expression modeled after the larger western cities of the Habsburg lands, which was a fragile splendor in part defined by the need to defend Catholicism from the hostility of Orthodox, Lutherans, Calvinists, and others.

Published by: Central European University Press


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pp. c-ii

Title page

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p. iii-iii

Copyright page

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pp. iv-vi

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-6

At the turn of the seventeenth century, in the rapidly evolving world of the frontiers among Habsburg, Ottoman and Transylvanian territories, Father Paul Ladislaus Baranyi was one of the most active and influential players. Born in 1657 to a noble family in Jászberény in Ottoman occupied Hungary, and educated at the great Jesuit training...

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Introduction: A Fragile Splendor

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pp. 7-16

The Jesuit presence in Hungary can be traced back to the invitation in 1554 of Nicholas Olahus (1493–1568), archbishop of Esztergom, to the Jesuits to come to what is now Trnava, Slovakia to teach and help rebuilt Catholic institutions in the rump of the historic Kingdom of Hungary left after the upheavals of the Reformation and the Turkish...

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I Narratives of Adversity

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pp. 17-36

The Society of Jesus has inspired more debate, scholarship, and speculation than any other Catholic order, and has probably been the subject of more books and articles than any other religious organization in history. The reasons for this are not hard to find. The Jesuits exploded onto the world stage in the mid-sixteenth century, and quickly became...

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II Peripheries

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pp. 37-64

The collection of territories belonging to the Hungarian Crown which in the mid-seventeenth century lay under Habsburg control was a secular administrator’s nightmare.2 The northeastern counties had enjoyed de facto independence from the Habsburgs at various points from the 1630s onward,3 and the region remained a hotbed of resistance to the...

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III “In Campos”

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pp. 65-92

In the countryside, deviant behavior or ignorance was overcome by the presentation by a Jesuit of how to perform correct action reflecting orthodox belief, while in a more genteel setting the intruding specter was defeated through the action of the Jesuit priest with the help of the potent image of the Jesuit “Patriarch.”2 In both cases, these successful...

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IV Campaign in Prešov

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pp. 93-110

A long day’s journey to the north of Košice was Prešov (Eperijes, Preschau, Eperiensis), a heavily Lutheran town that had been badly buffeted by war, fire and, in particular plague, and had lost more than half its population during the seventeenth century, leaving no more than about 2,000 inhabitants struggling to sustain...

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V Sex and Demons

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pp. 111-124

In response to the continually unstable situation of their mission the Jesuits of Prešov turned to the reliable tactic of producing school dramas to build rapport and to showcase commonalities between the locals and the fathers. These plays included one whose name is now lost, which in 1711 was performed in German, Hungarian, and Slovak....

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VI Detrimenta, Damna…

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pp. 125-134

The first Jesuits to venture into Hungary knew they would face loss, setbacks and even tragedy: their mode of response would in large part determine how their enterprises went forward. Setbacks and challenges took several forms, which seem to have generated differing responses. Related to the wanton destruction of materials that helped support and...

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VII Theatre and Suffering

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pp. 135-172

To twenty-first-century eyes, the entire landscape of baroque culture seems like a theatre. Architecture and landscaping, the representation of secular and ecclesiastical power through a combination of classical allusion and expanded medieval heraldry,1 the carefully composed genre of emblematics,2 the theatrical framing of rhetorical compositions,...

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VIII Jesuits in Banská Bystrica, Kláštor pod Znievom,Sárospatak, and Levoča

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pp. 173-210

Missing from the synthesized accounts of the Literae Annuae of the Austrian Province are the details of life in the smaller Jesuit communities scattered along the furthest northeastern extremity of the Habsburg lands. In these more remote settings the organizational and formational bases of the Society were put to special tests shaped...

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IX In Pursuit of History

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pp. 211-242

The link between Jesuits and historical scholarship is a deep and unbroken one: Jesuit scholars have shaped our understanding of distant times and places, and scholars who study the history of the Jesuits (some of them Jesuits themselves) have given us much of our understanding of the Society.1 Historical scholarship was a key element of...

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X An Unredeemed Loss: The Jesuit Mission in Belgrade

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pp. 243-250

Situated on a high point overlooking the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, Belgrade has been a fortress since Roman times. The city passed under Ottoman control in 1521, and remained a center of Turkish military power until the end of the seventeenth century. While always an important center of Serbian culture, Belgrade’s location...

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XI Trnava

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pp. 251-280

Trnava (Nagyszombat, Tyrnau, Tyrnavia) was the most important community of the Society in Hungary although its roles shifted in focus and importance over time. At various points Trnava functioned as a major training center of Jesuits, secular clergy and laymen, close to the Ottoman frontier, and later, as a staging point safely far from any...

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XII Conclusion

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pp. 281-312

The Society’s undertakings in the Habsburg East, viewed from a slight distance, provide more of a clear picture of activities and goals than they do when we view the documents that they generated at closer range. The compelling factors of dynastic ambition and power, ethnic tensions within the Austrian Province, and the ceaseless challenges of...


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pp. 313-362


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pp. 363-378

Register of geographical names

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pp. 379-384

Back Cover

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p. bc-bc

E-ISBN-13: 9786155053481
Print-ISBN-13: 9786155053474

Page Count: 396
Publication Year: 2012