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Italian collèges) varied greatly and identical class denominations could conceal very different levels of achievement. In France it was not unusual for pupils from the provinces transferring to a Parisian collège to be asked to repeat or even drop back a class. In Catholic countries, uneven achievement levels were occasionally regulated through the standardization imposed by the ratio studiorum of a religious order or secular teaching congregation. Indeed, throughout the seventeenth century, as much to solve problems of teacher recruitment as for financial reasons, towns frequently called upon orders and congregations to manage their schools. However, inconsistencies in quality invariably appeared between the schools of different orders and congregations. The Jesuits' strategy in establishing their institutions privileged political capitals and main university and economic centres, in the professed goal of using the elites to take back areas affected by the poison of heresy. Moreover, the Society's financial requirements generally precluded the creation of schools in small towns except under very special conditions. With the aid of political authorities, the Jesuits were often able to establish a network of secondary schools centred on a university they controlled: this was the case in the Spanish Netherlands with the university college of Anchin in Douai. But this strategy occasionally met with ferocious resistance from secular university bodies (Paris, for example) which had managed with difficulty to maintain their own secondary schools. Although the Jesuits almost entirely dominated the teaching of Latin in the Catholic portions of the western Prussian territories, as well as in Upper Bavaria, Austria, and the north-western empire (the southern Netherlands, the principality of Liege, the Archdiocese of Cologne, and Westphalia), in the course of the seventeenth century other religious orders emerged to take charge of the more modest schools, notably the Augustinians, the Recollets, and the Friars Minor.12 During the same period in France, the Oratorians and the Doctrinaires each took charge of over twenty collèges, most often in towns with less than 10,000 inhabitants - either because the Jesuits had refused the offers made to them, or because town councillors objected to the arrival of an order which vowed particular obedience to the pope (as in the fiercely 'Gallican' town of Troyes). In the Italian peninsula, the network of secondary schools was strengthened gradually with the arrival of the Barnabites, the Scolopes and the Somascans, who often agreed to move into more modest towns, even if the orders' central authorities remained reticent to sanction smaller schools. On occasion, certain other groups (from the Carmelites and Dominicans to the more recently created Eudists, Missionaries of Saint-Joseph and priests of the Saint-Sacrement of Valence) broadened the range of the teaching orders, particularly after the end of the seventeenth century, when

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