Jesuítas, construtores da globalização: Uma história da Companhia de Jesus, written by José Eduardo Franco and Carlos Fiolhais

in Journal of Jesuit Studies

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Lisbon: ctt Correios de Portugal, 2016. Pp. 176. Hb, €35.

Jesuítas, construtores da globalização (Jesuits, builders of globalization) is directed to the “general public” (16). Published in 2016 by José Eduardo Franco and Carlos Fiolhais, it aims at popularizing the history of the Jesuits in Portugal from the sixteenth century until present days. With an impressive track record in the field of Jesuit studies, José Eduardo Franco is one of the most respected scholars of anti-Jesuitism. In the past few years he edited the complete works of Manuel Antunes, S.J. (Lisbon: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 2007–12, 14 vols.) and, together with Pedro Calafate, coordinated the edition of the complete works of António Vieira, S.J. (Lisbon: Círculo de Leitores-Edições Loyola, 2013–14, 30 vols.), a long desired project. Besides being a distinguished scientist, Carlos Fiolhais is one of the most active popularizers of science in Portugal. He has written dozens of manuals of physics and chemistry for secondary education and more than forty books on the popularization of science.

The book is published by the Portuguese post office (ctt). Along with the publication of this copiously illustrate volume, ctt issued five commemorative stamps portraying renowned Jesuits from the old and the restored Society of Jesus. Regarding the Portuguese assistancy, the authors’ preferences went to Francis Xavier (1506–52), João de Brito (1647–93) and António Vieira (1608–97), whereas Manuel Antunes (1918–85) and Luís Archer (1926–2011) were selected as the most representative scholars of the restored Society.

The book is divided in six chapters. Although it offers a good introduction to the foundation of the Society of Jesus for the unfamiliar reader, the first chapter perhaps would have benefited from a comprehensive biography of Ignatius of Loyola and his first companions (20–36). In the second chapter, the authors provide a broad historical account of the Jesuits in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by focusing on significant topics, institutions and individuals of this period, namely the Jesuits’ participation in the Council of Trent, the creation of a global network of colleges in the Portuguese empire, the East Asian, African and Brazilian missions, the rites controversy, the martyrdom in the missions, the colleges of Coimbra, Évora and Lisbon, and the life and work of António Vieira (40–100). Regarding the history of science, this chapter refers to the celebrated “Aula da Esfera” of the College of Santo Antão and its importance in the teaching of mathematics in Lisbon between 1590 and 1759. It also mentions the astronomical work done by Ferdinand Verbiest (1623–88), Tomás Pereira (1645–1708) and Johann Adam Schall von Bell (1591–1666) at the Beijing Astronomical Observatory, and by Giovanni Battista Carbone (1694–1750) at the College of Santo Antão and the royal palace in Lisbon. In this chapter, Franco and Fiolhais refer to the most significant books published in this period, namely the philosophical treatises by Pedro da Fonseca (1528–99), Francisco Suárez (1548–1617) and Luis de Molina (1535–1600), the Conimbricensis (the multivolume edition of the commentaries on Aristotle), and the very influential Latin grammar by Manuel Álvares (1526–83). João de Loureiro (1717–1791) and his Flora Cochinchinensis are presented here as the most noteworthy examples of the Jesuits’ endeavors in natural history. The main thesis of this chapter—the longest and most detailed chapter of this book—is that Lisbon was the platform from which the Jesuits became global, and that they were indeed the protagonists of the first process of globalization. This argument can be traced back to Dauril Alden and his The Making of an Enterprise: The Society of Jesus in Portugal, Its Empire and Beyond, 1540–1750 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996). Although Franco and Fiolhais refer to some of the most significant difficulties regarding Jesuit historiography, namely the long coexistence of anti-Jesuit and apologetic historiographic traditions, they appear to overlook the significance of The Making of an Enterprise, the most noteworthy book on the history of the Portuguese Jesuits published after Francisco Rodrigues’ massive História da Companhia de Jesus na Assistência de Portugal (Porto: Livraria Apostolado da Imprensa, 1931–50, 7 vols.). The third chapter deals with the development of Portuguese anti-Jesuitism and the Pombaline expulsion in the eighteenth century (104–25). This chapter is elegantly written and testifies to the invaluable expertise of Franco in the study of this topic. It offers a concise and in-depth historical analysis of the phenomenon that will be valuable not only for unfamiliar readers but also for scholars working on the topic.

Probably due to the historiographical imbalance between the history of the old and the new Society, the fourth and fifth chapters provide only a very brief account on the history of the restored Society of Jesus (128–56). These chapters refer to the foundation of the colleges of Campolide (1858–1910) and São Fiel (1863–1910), the republican expulsion in 1910 and the apprehensive return during the dictatorial regime Estado Novo. Despite referring to the Jesuit naturalists and to the creation of the scientific journal Brotéria in 1902, the book fails to mention one of the most relevant Jesuit scientists of the time: António de Oliveira Pinto (1868–1933), a pioneer in the study of radioactivity in Portugal. Although he is a central character in the remarkable two-page photography that opens the fourth chapter, he is only referred to in its caption. On the history of Brotéria, the authors assert that the journal sought to demonstrate that “religion was not incompatible with the scientific progress” and that it could indeed favour it (142). This implies that, according to Franco and Fiolhais, Brotéria was created with an apologetic programme. However, Brotéria, unlike other periodicals published by the Society of Jesus in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, was not conceived as an apologetic journal, but as a strictly scientific journal. Founded as a journal of plant and animal taxonomy, Brotéria was not only “the oldest scientific and cultural periodical” (146), but the most significant scientific journal published in twentieth-century Portugal, especially for its role in the development of botany, zoology, plant breeding, biochemistry and molecular genetics.

Notwithstanding the unquestionable value of this book for the “general public,” there are a few shortcomings that should be briefly pointed out. The authors state that before the 1759 expulsion there were 1698 Jesuits in the Portuguese assistancy (70). However, according to António Júlio Trigueiros, S.J., the most accurate figure seems to be 1480 (António Júlio Trigueiros, S.J., “Per nascere poca terra, per morire tutto il mondo: Il fallimentare progetto di distruzione di una identità,” in I gesuiti dell’Assistenza Lusitana esiliati in Italia [1759–1831], ed. António Júlio Trigueiros, S.J. and Mariagrazia Russo [Padua: Libraria Editrice Universitá di Padova, 2013], 19–23, here 20). The popular journal Brotéria–Vulgarização científica was not founded in the “1910s” but in 1907 (146). The college that resulted from a cooperation between the company Alves Ribeiro and the Jesuits is not dedicated to Saint Ignatius but to Pedro Arrupe (153). It is clear that Jesuítas, construtores da globalização is a brief history of the Society of Jesus in Portugal. However, given that it was certainly not possible to explore every aspect of Jesuit history, perhaps it would have been better to provide further bibliography. Although there is indeed “an immense ocean of works and articles on the Jesuits” (167), the reference list should have included recent titles by renowned scholars such as Liam Brockey, Ugo Baldini, Alfredo Dinis and Noël Golvers, to name only a few. Concluding a popular book on the history of the Society of Jesus in Portugal with a small chapter entitled “Finally a Jesuit Pope” (160–65) was unnecessary. Besides not being related to the history of the Jesuits in Portugal, the book would have benefited from a general conclusion.

DOI 10.1163/22141332-00501008-13

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Jesuítas, construtores da globalização: Uma história da Companhia de Jesus, written by José Eduardo Franco and Carlos Fiolhais

in Journal of Jesuit Studies

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