This attractive and interesting little map depicts the southern part of the ecclesiastical province of Mexico, an administrate division of the Jesuit Order that embraced all of Mexico and most of continental Central America. The area shown includes all of Mexico from Durango southwards, plus the dioceses of Guatemala and Léon (Nicaragua), extending as far south as Panama City. The map was issued not long after the Jesuit Order was globally reinstated from 1814, after having been officially suppressed by the papacy since 1773.
The present map was part of a very rare miniature atlas depicting the jurisdictions of the Jesuit Order across the globe, Atlas universel indiquant les établissemens des Jésuites (Paris: Ambroise Dupont & Cie., 1826). The atlas contained 46 engraved and numbered plates, including 43 maps, plus 16 pages of letterpress text. Each of the maps is beautifully coloured and labels all major towns with churches and political jurisdictions. Intriguingly, each also lists the number of Jesuit priests, novitiates, colleges and seminaries in the province (below the title). It is important to note that political jurisdictions often did not correspond with the limits of the Jesuit provinces. The maps were all engraved, although, curiously, there is no evidence of platemark, as several of the maps were simultaneously engraved on a single sheet, before being separated and trimmed.
The maps in the atlas include: World; Italy; Rome; Sicily; Naples; Milan; Venice; France; North-west France; Champagne; Lyon; Toulouse & Aquitaine; Greece; Syria & Persia; Asia; North America; Spain; Toledo; Castile; Aragon; Andalusia; Sardinia; North Mexico; South Mexico; an area in the north-west of South America titled Nouveau Royaume; Quito; Peru; Paraguay & Chile; South America; Philippines; Portugal; Brazil & Maragnon; Germany; Upper Rhine; Lower Rhine; Netherlands; Belgium; British Isles; Poland; Austria; Lithuania; Bohemia; and France.
The Ambroise Dupont issue of the atlas is derived from Louis Denis’s very rare atlas, Atlas géographique renfermant les etablissemens des Jesuites (Paris, 1764), which was made shortly before the Jesuit Order was suppressed.
Historical Background: The Suppression & Revival of the Jesuits
By the mid-18th Century, the Jesuit Order had become politically powerful and wealthy, controlling innumerable properties in Europe and parts of Asia and Africa, as well as an archipelago of missions in Latin America. Many European crowns came to resent the Order’s power and what they saw as its interference in their civil rule and financial privileges.
Due to a highly complex series of domestic and international reasons that are too complicated to elaborate upon here, Portugal banned the Oder in its domains in 1759, followed by France in 1764. King Carlos III of Spain decided to suppress the Jesuit Order in his empire in early 1767.
Interestingly, Carlos III envisaged that civil officials all across his empire would receive his “Secret Orders” suppressing the Jesuits to be opened and acted upon at the exact same appointed time on April 2, 1767. These edicts mandated the abolition of the Order, the confiscation of all of its property and expulsion of its members from Spanish soil. While the Secret Orders were opened and enacted on time in places within and near Metropolitan Spain, travel delays ensured that they were not received in the overseas colonies until some time later.
Finally, Pope Clement XIV, in his bull Dominus ac Redemptor (July 21, 1773) suppressed the Jesuit Order in its zones of influence across the globe. The Order survived only in certain non-Catholic countries, such as Prussia and Russia, where it was either harboured to as an intentional snub to Rome, or merely tolerated.
The end of the Napoleonic Wars brought about a revival in conservative, traditional sentiment throughout Europe, including a desire to restore the Jesuit Order. Following the Congress of Vienna (1814-5), the Jesuits were gradually reinstated in nations across the globe. That being said, in many nations, particular in the newly-independent republics of Latin America, laws were passed to limit the Order’s property rights and privileges, such that the Jesuits would never regain the political and economic power they enjoyed before the Suppression. Ambroise Dupont’s Atlas universel indiquant les établissemens des Jésuites, of which the present map was a part, was issued just as the Order was being re-established in the region that it depicts.
A Note on Rarity
The present map is very rare. We cannot trace any other examples as having appeared separately on the market during the last generation, and we can find only a single sales record for the complete Atlas universel indiquant les établissemens des Jésuites from the same period. Moreover, only a handful of examples of the Atlas universel are recorded in institutional collections.
References: Cf. (re: entire Atlas universel): De Backer-Sommervogel, vol. XI, no. 242; OCLC: 560531836.