Studies in the Relations between Politics and Culture in Polish History
Edited By Jacek Soszyński and Agnieszka Chamera-Nowak
The Jesuits as a Monastic Community Supportive of Secular Power in Reinforcing Catholicism in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 16th–17th Century
The foundations laid in the sixteenth century, in my opinion, formed the basis for the successes of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, in the times that followed. It was most probably during the 1606 Zebrzydowski Rebellion, that the order reached the high mark of its eminence. However, later on, the Society never managed to equal the dynamics of the initial period. In Poland, as in other European Catholic countries, the success of the Jesuits relied on the strong and talented personalities that entered their ranks. Another factor, which conditioned the achievement of the Jesuits in the Commonwealth, was their offer of education—a field neglected previously. The Jesuits opened, for young noblemen, a network of colleges, which managed to maintain training at a high level. Moreover, these free-of-charge schools also provided living conditions for the students, kept at an appropriate standard.
The use of print for purposes of re-evangelization during the Reformation helped in creating the Counter-Reformation, which checked the intensive development of Protestantism both in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and in Europe as a whole. After the Council of Trent, the presence of the Jesuits as preachers, confessors, missionaries, chaplains and counsellors at royal courts worldwide resulted in their image as the forefront of the Catholic Church. It was the fulfilment of the goals set by that most important meeting of the Church hierarchy, which dictated the main objectives for the Society of Jesus during the first century of its activity....
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