Geographical and Cartographical Knowledge in Jesuit Education (1540– 1773) with Special Regard to German Colleges

Members of the Society of Jesus, more than any other religious order of early modern Europe, valued maps and geography not only as a tool for the presentation of their missionary endeavour but also as a powerful expression of their academic excellence. Other orders such as the Franciscans, Dominicans, or Augustinians were also prominent in exploration and mapping, but the Jesuits outstripped all the rest in the extent and quality of their geographical knowledge.

This project elaborates why exactly the Jesuits became so successful as geographers and cartographers. By analysing textbooks used in Jesuit colleges, the project examines what the role of Jesuit education in natural sciences and humanities was for their capabilities to explore and map the world; how geography was imbedded into the curricula of Jesuit colleges, and how the changes in Jesuit education influenced the development of geographical knowledge about the world in general. Special attention is paid to textbooks used at French and German colleges.

In contrast to previous works which conclude about the use of books in the teaching process based on the insight into the inventories of Jesuit libraries, this project is based on the analysis of curricula of specific colleges, their reports, as well as on the list of books that were effectively used in teaching.