Founded by Ignatius Loyola, the Society ofJesus won papal recognition in 1540, just a few years before the first meeting of the Council of Trent where Jesuit theologians first came to Catholic attention as champions of papal primacy and the most formidable foes of Protestant 'heresy'. More than two and a half centuries later, in i8i4, the papacy re-established the society as an institutional antidote to the unbelief and republican ideology bequeathed by a revolution that had marked the parting of the paths between Catholicism and modernity in political form. Yet the same papacy that restored the society had dissolved it as a source of'troubles and dissension' only forty years before, in 1773.1 Indeed, little in the history of Christendom between the first session of the Council of Trent and the French Revolution is more surprising than the international expulsion of the Jesuits in the third quarter of the eighteenth century.
While the papacy in the person of Clement XIV hardly acted of its own accord in 1773, the initiative against the Jesuits came from incontestably Catholic quarters. The first state to strike out against the Jesuits was the ultra-Catholic kingdom of Portugal where the 'most faithful' Joseph I expelled them from both the metropolitan mainland and the South American and Asian colonies in September 1759. The next scene of action was Bourbon France where the impetus came from the royal law courts or parlements, which manoeuvred the 'most Christian' king Louis XV into dissolving the society in November 1764 instead of bodily expelling all the Jesuits as had Portugal in 1759. But the Bourbon Spain of Charles III preferred the Portuguese model, and so the 'most Catholic' king expelled all the Spanish Jesuits from Spain's Asian and American colonies as well as from metropolitan Spain itself in April 1767. The Bourbon dynasty's Italian outposts of Naples and Parma soon followed suit at Spanish prompting at the end of the same year. Whereupon the united Bourbon powers, having obtained the election of a compliant pope in the conclave of 1769, put pressure on Clement XIV until he formally dissolved the society with the bull Dominus ac Redemptor in 1773. The papal dissolution
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