‘I Can’t Imagine It Won’t Bear Fruit’: Jesuits, Politics and Heretics in Siena, Montepulciano and Lucca

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Contribution to Book

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Defining Community in Early Modern Europe




After the foundation of the Society of Jesus in 1541, religious and political leaders in some areas of the Italian peninsula embraced the possibilities that this new order offered for controlling and stabilizing the population. In the Duchy of Florence and then Grand Duchy of Tuscany during the first century of the Jesuits’ existence, several colleges and professed houses were established with the support of the Medici, principally from the Grand Duchesses; the state and the religious order together built a new community in this region. This foundation of Jesuit houses in communes conquered by Florence, in addition to being an integral part of the Catholic Reform movements, was certainly connected to the increase of Medici power in the region. For the sake of comparison, we shall also consider the foundation in Lucca, an area which successfully resisted Florentine domination. There, establishing social control over the strong pockets of heresy was equally important to resisting the potential loss of political control to Florence; as a result, many of the same issues-state and church cooperation and/or rivalry over the hearts and minds of the people as well as land-arose in that independent republic.