169 by clerics from Italy and southern Europe. Its agenda was set by the curia, which called for a reaf?irmation of Catholic doctrine and its demarcation from heresy. Protestantism was to be confronted head-on by a reinvigorated Catholicism rather than appeased through concessions. At the same time, the council fathers strengthened church discipline and the centralizing tendencies of the Holy See. Thus, the Council of Trent became an important milestone in the organizing of a Catholic countermovement against the Protestant Reformation. Another crucial impulse emanated from a new breed of activist and highly disciplined orders, exempli?ied most visibly by the Society of Jesus.36 These monastic congregations were not established primarily to combat heresy, and in countries without a signi?icant Protestant presence, they pursued and reinvigorated traditional pastoral and charitable activities. In central and northern Europe, however, the new orders formed spearheads of Catholic reassertion vis-à-vis religious dissenters. Capuchins provided spiritual support to Catholics under Protestant rule, not least among them the Irish. Jesuits established successful schools, in which the children of not always freely converted burghers and noblemen were reintegrated into the Catholic sphere, and established academies that trained missionaries for the reconverting of apostate populations all the way to Scandinavia.37 Thousands of graduates from Jesuit institutions of learning subsequently staffed the higher echelons of the church hierarchy, successfully implanting the spirit of tridentine Catholicism throughout Europe. At the same time, many members of the society also served the papacy in their capacity as princely confessors and con?idants, with unique access to the hearts and minds of increasingly absolutist rulers. The latter half of the sixteenth century has therefore been widely designated as the onset of a counterreformation. In its broader meaning, the term denotes Catholic efforts to revitalize their own church and reverse the progress of Protestantism. As such, it was coined in the late 1700s and introduced into the historical debate during the subsequent century to characterize the period that followed the initial advance of reformist thought. Its semantic connotation as a mere reaction to external challenges as well as its widespread association with the suppression of dissent induced a number of Catholic scholars to take exception to the wholesale subsumption of a historical era under this term, however. They considered it more appropriate to divide the phenomenon into two complementary aspects. There existed an external and political effort, which was typically executed in cooperation with local governments. For this aspect, the term Counterreformation has also been accepted by decidedly Catholic interpreters, even if some of them originally preferred the wording of Catholic restoration. In their 36 For the new religious orders of the period, see DeMolen (ed.): Religious Orders. For the origins of the Society of Jesus, see O’Malley: The First Jesuits. For a history of the Jesuits in the German-speaking countries, see Duhr: Geschichte der Jesuiten. 37 See, for example, Garstein: Rome and the Counter-Reformation.
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