Narratives of Adversity
Jesuits on the Eastern Peripheries of the Habsburg Realms (1640–1773)
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.
"This is an impressionistic history of the Jesuits in towns located in parts of what are now Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Croatia, and Serbia, all ruled by the Habsburg dynasty in Vienna, from 1640 to 1773. The book has two themes: narratives of adversity, in which Jesuits overcome difficulties, and fragile splendor, meaning that despite the wonderful Baroque churches erected by or for Jesuits, they faced much opposition. Plagues, ethnic diversities, and anti-Habsburg sentiment offered additional obstacles. The author has done a good deal of reading in archives and printed literature, and the bibliography is large. There are many interesting anecdotes and tales. Recommended"—Choice
"Duty on the eastern rim of the Kingdom of Hungary was no plum assignment for a Jesuit in those days. It entailed the laborious restoration of the church in a region that was historically Catholic, for the most part. So it off ered no dazzling prospect of winning vast numbers of new souls as in the more exotic mission lands. Still, the Reformation and the Ottoman conquest and occupation had done great damage to Catholicism there that would require much hard, unglamorous work to undo. This imposed a regimen of grappling with the swarm of 'adversities'of the title—chiefly, plague, isolation, privation, and a recalcitrant populace—that yielded meager successes for the Order, apart from the spiritual gains of persevering in the Lord's work despite stubborn obstacles. In this way, Shore argues, the Hungarian mission provides an instructive comparison with the more celebrated and colorful Jesuit enterprises across the oceans"—Slavic Review
"Using an impressive array of primary sources in several languages, the author discusses the experience of challenge and adversity amongst some of the Jesuits of the Empire from the moment of 'high tide' of the Society, in the fourth decade of the seventeenth century, to the Society's suppression by papal brief (breve) in 1773. That experience emerges, in the documents generated by the brothers and priests, 'as a complex mixture of subjective and individually varied reactions to events'. Shore explores the subjective, recorded responses of Jesuits to a variety of situations, amongst them adversity, doubt, miscommunication and failure. His exploration is aided significantly by our growing understanding of the different ways in which Jesuits collected, categorized and recorded information. In this regard, Shore raises questions which exercise every conscientious historian when confronting his or her sources. Shore's study shows us that Jesuit culture in the Habsburg East thrived on adversity, an adversity most evident in the 'clear-cut if infrequent moments when a Jesuit was given the choice between renouncing his identity or death'. His book is a invaluable source for our understanding of interplay between culture and religion in this part of Europe"—Slavonic and East European Review
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