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Response to Review no. 404

I am pleased with the thoughtful review by Dr. Braun. Let me just make two points.

First, as Dr. Braun points out, the Jesuits enjoyed considerably more influence in Vienna and Munich than they did in Paris and Madrid. A principal reason for this is that the Catholic clergy and the religious orders suffered severely in Germany as a result of the Reformation. The Jesuits were then in the vanguard of the Catholic Reform and Counter-Reformation and closely associated with the Habsburgs, for the most part, and even more so with the Wittelsbachs in Bavaria. Their association with the papacy generally benefited them in Germany where the papacy played a much more decisive role in the Catholic Reform than in Spain or France.

In Spain the Reformation obviously did not weaken the clergy and religious orders, so that no vacuum existed as in Germany. Moreover, by tradition the Dominicans served as confessors to the kings of Spain and the Franciscans to the queens. (Indeed, Dominican confessors to the Spanish kings exercised considerable influence, a point that I do not take up in my book, as did the Inquisition.) Furthermore, in Spain the Jesuit attachment to the papacy was often suspect.

In France the clergy and religious orders were weakened by the Reformation but not nearly to the degree as in Germany. Here the Jesuits faced formidable Catholic rivals in the universities, especially the University of Paris, and in the diocesan clergy, especially the clergy of Paris, all of which were permeated with Gallicanism. Indeed, the Jesuits were expelled from much of France in 1594 only to be readmitted by Henry IV in 1603, and they depended upon the king and his ministers to protect them against the Gallicans. Hence their extreme fear of offending the king or his ministers, especially Richelieu, and so losing favour at court.

Secondly, Vitelleschi though often considered a weak superior general, manoeuvred the Jesuits through a difficult period, much to his credit. In 1626 the French ambassador in Rome referred to him as ‘un homme advisé et le plus sage politique qui j’aye jamais traité.’