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Defending The Catholic Enterprise: National Sentiment, Ethnic Tensions, And The Jesuit Mission In Seventeenth-Century Hungary

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Chapter Summary

The process of confessional polarization in the sixteenth and early seventeenth century has been identified as a key determinant in the formation of national identities in Protestant Britain and Europe. Conversely, this process contributed to the survival of the Church as a state-backed institution in the Catholic countries. This chapter presents a case study for the Austro-Hungarian province which illustrates the dilemma confronting the Jesuits in their struggle to successfully establish the Counter-Reformation mission in the largely hostile environment of war-torn, faction-ridden Hungary, while at the same time preserving the unity of the Society against the centrifugal forces of nascent national sentiment and ethnic conflict amongst their own ranks. The Generals' correspondence as evidence from the Society's centre is drawn to demonstrate the strengthening of national sentiment among the Jesuits in the Habsburg Monarchy, and to show how this reflected a wider trend towards proto-national "patriotism" in seventeenth-century European society.

Keywords: Catholic countries; Counter-Reformation; ethnic conflict; Jesuit mission; seventeenth-century Hungary



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