Narratives of Adversity

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

Edited by Paul Shore
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 395
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  • Book Info
    Narratives of Adversity
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-615-5053-48-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
    P. S.
  4. PRELUDE The Lure of Challenge
    (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 center in Graz, Baranyi undertook his fourth vow as a Jesuit in Cluj before the Society had been officially reinstated in the independent Grand Principality of Transylvania.¹ As an exponent of baroque piety, Baranyi believed in holy images that could appear in candle flames and aggressively...

  5. INTRODUCTION: A Fragile Splendor
    (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 invasion. These early arrivals set a pattern of two important relationships that would continue throughout the entire pre-Suppression history of the Society of Jesus in Hungary. First, the source of the impetus for the Jesuit program, while driving eastward, would be...

  6. I Narratives of Adversity
    (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 the most visible worldwide exponent both of Reformed Catholicism and of an expansionist European mindset that was not limited to Catholics.² A century later the Jesuits were operating 800 schools on all of the known continents and had become the objects of heated...

  7. II Peripheries
    (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 ruling dynasty, mountainous and heavily forested, lacking decent roads or navigable waterways, and of little interest to alliance-builders in far-off Rome, where attention was instead focused on assembling a Holy League to fight the Turks.⁴ Repeated heavy-handed treatment by the Habsburgs in the latter part of the century left...

  8. III “In Campos”
    (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 actions were deliberate interventions in the physical world in opposition to ongoing deviations in that same world, the battle being joined in a concrete sense that recalled the struggle between the adherents of the “two standards” of Christ and Lucifer as described...

  9. IV Campaign in Prešov
    (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 themselves.¹ When 24 prominent citizens were executed in 1687 for their support of the Thököly uprising, the impact on the town was devastating. The execution of these convicted conspirators and the display of their quartered bodies took place in the square across from the Jesuit collegium, symbolism doubtless...

  10. V Sex and Demons
    (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.² Sermons and catechism lessons were also given in Slovak, as well as in other languages.³ Yet the continual presentation of spectacles that drew on the imagination and provided glimpses of worlds other than that known in the day to day life of the town was...

  11. VI Detrimenta, damna… Prospera et Adversa
    (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 define Jesuit communities, violations of the space that the Society had tried to identify as its own were another source of sorrow, a misfortune great enough to deserve detailed description by Jesuit writers. The valuable objects owned by Jesuit communities were obvious targets for theft in...

  12. VII Theatre and Suffering
    (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, and even the employment of visually arresting chronographs in documents and architectural inscriptions:³ each has unmistakable elements of dramatic presentation, and, sensing this relationship, the Society even described the setting of its mission enterprises in Upper Hungary as a “theatrum,” while students receiving degrees at the Jesuit university in Trnava were assured that “science opens...

  13. VIII Jesuits in Banská Bystrica, Kláštor pod Znievom, Sárospatak and Levoča
    (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 by the social conditions and unique history of the region, and individual Jesuits found themselves at times under extraordinary pressures. These communities lying along the northern periphery of the Austrian Province generally had embraced Protestant beliefs early and had then held to them steadfastly as the Habsburgs consolidated...

  14. IX In Pursuit of History
    (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 Jesuit literary culture in the seventeenth century, accompanying (and interwoven with) both the polemics that staked out the Society’s position on the confessional and political landscape, and with the beginnings of Jesuit geographical and ethnographical reporting.² During the first two centuries of its existence, the...

  15. X An Unredeemed Loss: The Jesuit Mission in Belgrade
    (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 destined it to serve as a crossroads for diverse groups, not the least of which were the garrison soldiers of the various powers that occupied the city. Muslim roots stretched deeply into the urban landscape, and at least 120 mosques stood within the city walls...

  16. XI Trnava
    (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 actual periphery but still in constant communication with Jesuits and others destined for labors along that periphery. The town was where the Society committed itself to its most ambitious building projects in the non-German speaking Austrian Province and was a point of both departure and...

  17. XII Conclusion
    (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 distance, lack of resources, and local hostility helped knit together for more than two centuries a coherent self-generated Jesuit narrative in which the objectives of the Tridentine Church are pursued with dedication and a fair amount of success. But the smaller fragments of this mosaic...

  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 313-362)
  19. Index
    (pp. 363-378)
  20. Register of Geographical Names
    (pp. 379-384)