Jesuits arrived on Croatian soil in the mid-sixteenth century by invitation, shortly after the founding of the Society of Jesus. In the seventeenth century, they established high schools (called colleges) in several of the region’s cities (Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Rijeka, and Požega). These lasted for almost two centuries and were among the most important pedagogical institutions in Croatia, resulting in outstanding contributions from famous Jesuits in almost all intellectual fields. One of the conditions for obtaining permission to establish a college was the presence of a library.
The structure of surviving collections of the former Jesuit libraries places them at the core of the colleges’ educational work. When the Society was suppressed in 1773, their colleges were closed and their books were scattered. However, numerous volumes have been preserved, and they can be found in various places today: in Jesuit residences, as well as in universities, monasteries, and other libraries. Jesuit operations in Croatia were interrupted, but their legacy has not been: the remains of their original book collections provide evidence that the Society’s pursuit of knowledge has been a continuous part of the intellectual history of the region.
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