177 Born in 1523, Eder hailed from an impeccably Catholic background in Bavaria. The Wittelsbach duchy had not only developed into a bulwark of Catholic orthodoxy in its own right, but it also provided a much-needed contingent of Germanspeaking activists for the early Counterreformation in the Habsburg lands. In the 1540s, Eder’s studies at the University of Cologne brought him into contact with the Society of Jesus, which was just beginning to gain a foothold on German territory. Most importantly, Eder became acquainted with Peter Canisius, one of the foremost theologians of the order. The connections established in Cologne proved useful for both sides. Eder evolved into a pivotal Catholic lay activist, who could always rely on the patronage of the Jesuits, with whom he identi?ied intensely.71 As a doctor of law with a thorough understanding of theology, he was a valuable asset, above all in public positions that were closed to religious orders. After a short period as headmaster in Passau, Eder completed his legal studies in Vienna between 1550 and 1551. Upon graduation, his career took off quickly. Eder’s arrival in the Austrian capital all but coincided with the founding of the city’s ?irst Jesuit college. But the predominantly foreign brethren, without a suf?icient knowledge of German, were seriously impeded in their initial outreach. Not so Eder, who held increasingly more prestigious posts, culminating in 1563 when Ferdinand I appointed him to the imperial aulic council. Notwithstanding its name, which evoked its origins as an advisory body, this institution also served as one of the two high courts of the Holy Roman Empire. Whereas the imperial cameral court largely remained the domain of the imperial estates, the monarch fully controlled the aulic council.72 Yet Eder also joined the University of Vienna, over which he presided as rector for 11 terms. Even more important than lay supporters were forces within the church. The local Catholic hierarchy was able to provide inspiration and leadership, even if it relied on the government to subdue Protestant resistance. The leading protagonist of this new ecclesial activism was Melchior Klesl. In telling contrast to the Bavarian Eder, the Viennese Klesl was born into a Lutheran family in 1552.73 He was raised in his parental faith and still professed it into early adulthood, until he turned to Catholicism under the in?luence of the Jesuit theologian Georg Scherer. The young convert exchanged the University of Vienna for the local Jesuit college; he subsequently ?inished his theological studies at the preeminent German seminary of the order in Bavarian Ingolstadt. In more ways than one, Klesl carried on the work of Georg Eder, even if his position was different and his impact more formidable. Upon his colleague’s re71 See Fulton: Catholic Belief, 68. 72 The of?icial German designations of these bodies were Reichskammergericht and Reichshofrat. 73 For a comprehensive biography of Klesl (also spelt Khlesl), one still has to consult HammerPurgstall: Khlesls des Cardinals. See also Kerschbaumer: Kardinal Klesl, and Rainer: ‘Der Prozeß’, 35-163.
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