The Society of Jesus settled in Hungary in 1561 and despite the hardships the order developed dynamically in all three parts of the divided country. The most influential Hungarian member of the Society was Péter Pázmány (1570–1637), who was appointed Archbishop of Esztergom; with his support the Jesuit College in Nagyszombat was given the status of a university in 1653. The golden age of the order ended in 1773, when under political pressure from the European great powers, Pope Clement XIV disbanded the order. At the time of the disbandment 838 Jesuits were active in the territory of Hungary, all of them were members of the common Provincia Austriae.
The Society of Jesus was restored in Hungary from 1853. In 1860 the order took over the control of the grammar school and college in Kalocsa. In 1866 they settled in Budapest and in 1912 they established the Congregational Home in Horánszky Street, which hosted the secular works of the order. In 1909 the independent province of the Hungarian Jesuits was established. In 1950 the communist regime suppressed the activities of the Jesuits and a lot of members of the order were imprisoned, many others emigrated. In Hungary the order was granted permission again in 1989 only.
With the abolition of the Society of Jesus in 1773, the archives of the Austrian Province of the order and the archives of their Hungarian institutions were dispersed. At present the surviving records can be found primarily in the National Archives of Hungary (Acta Jesuitica), the ELTE University Library (Hevenesi Collection), in the Library of the Benedictine Archabbey of Pannonhalma (Jesuitica or also known as Paintner Collection) and in the manuscript archive of the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna.
The archives and the historical library of the independent Hungarian Jesuit Province were founded in 1934 by András Gyenis SJ as head. The inheritance of Dénes Szittyay and Aurél Pompéry, concerning Jesuit history, were purchased and István Siska collected further copies in Viennese archives. Owing to the dangerous political situation in 1949 the documents of personal relevance were destroyed. When the order was suppressed in 1950, the majority of the archival holdings was lost. The collection and classification of the surviving records started in 1991 by a team led by László Lukács SJ.
The records of the Hungarian Province functioning abroad (1950–1989), the incomplete archives of certain Jesuit monasteries from the period before 1950 and the personal inheritance of some 20th century Jesuits account for the greater part of the present archives. The inheritance of the Jesuit historians (Dénes Szittyay, Antal Petruch and Flórián Holovics) include copies of many sources of the order’s 16th–18th c. history in Hungary. The archives are still being processed, so only a part of it is open to researchers. The archival holdings are complemented by the library collecting books on the history of the Society of Jesus.
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