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    STUDIA HISTORIA - Issue no. 1 / 2013  

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  Abstract:  This article takes a case-study from the early modern Habsburg Monarchy to explore the scope and validity of centre-periphery models in historical research, and in particular to investigate how ‘marginality’ is historically produced and reflected in primary sources from the period. It is argued that the series of unsuccessful campaigns for the creation of an independent Hungarian province of the Society of Jesus are instructive in this respect as they document the growth of Hungarian patriotism and national sentiment in the second half of the seventeenth and early eighteenth century. The movement and its underlying national agenda caused concern at the Habsburg government in Vienna and the Society’s Generals in Rome, and met with uniform opposition from these centres. Hungarian patriotism is shown to have been the ideological expression of a sense of growing discontent and estrangement between the Hungarian and Croatian Jesuits on the one side, and the Germans and, as the sources put it, ‘Slavic-speaking’ Jesuits on the other. The divisive issues were partly of a political nature, arising from Leopold I’s repressive Hungarian policy which posed a dilemma to loyal native Hungarian Jesuits after c.1670. However, beyond their immediate political context, these tensions revealed a more significant flaw in the provincial structure of the Society and its operation at different levels of the hierarchy. The outcome was systematic discrimination against native Hungarians and Croatians. This caused a profound rift among the different ethnic and national groups of the Society in Austria and Hungary which undermined the smooth operation of the chain of command from the centre in Rome. The case of early modern Hungary thus can be seen as illustrative of the divisive legacy of the Counter-Reformation and its contribution to the process of polarisation and disintegration that eventually led to the falling apart of the modern Habsburg Monarchy.

Keywords: Marginality, Centres, Peripheries, Proto-nationalism, Ethnicity, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Society of Jesus, Mission, Counter-Reformation
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