The Difficulties of Conversion Non-Catholic Students in Jesuit Colleges in Western Hungary in the First Half of the Seventeenth Century
The societies of the multiethnic and multilingual region of Central Europe became more diverse through the emergence of distinct confessions (Konfessionalisierung). The first half of the seventeenth century is especially interesting in this regard. In this period, the Catholic Church started to win back its positions in the Hungarian Kingdom as well, but the institutionalization of the Protestant denominations had by that time essentially reached completion. The schools, which were sustained by the various denominations, became the most efficient devices of religious education, persuasion and conversion. In this essay I present, through the example of the Jesuit colleges of western Hungary, the denominational proportions and movements of the students in the largely non-Catholic urban settings. Examining two basic types of sources, the annual accounts (Litterae Annuae) of the Society of Jesus and the registries of the Jesuit colleges in Győr and Pozsony (today Bratislava, Slovakia), I compare and contrast the data and venture an answer to questions regarding the kinds of opportunities non-Catholic students had in the Jesuit colleges. In contrast with the assertions made in earlier historiography, I conclude that conversion was not so widespread in the case of the non-Catholic students of the Jesuits. They were not discriminated against in their education, and some of them remained true to their confessions to the end of their studies in the colleges.