This article analyzes some of the social mechanisms and material processes involved in Jesuit global communication in the first decades of the Society's history. The exchange of administrative correspondence, news-sheets (quadrimestres), and edifying letters from the overseas missions was coordinated by the Society's Roman secretary, Juan Alfonso de Polanco. Communication made significant material demands on both Rome and key transmission nodes on the Jesuit network. In 1560, a decentralized system of scribal production of news and letters was established. Particular pressure was placed on Lisbon, a crucial communications hub for exchanges between Jesuits in Europe and the overseas missions. The last part of the article examines the experience of the Jesuit procurator in Lisbon, charged with managing the exchange of documents between Europe and Jesuits in Asia, Africa, and Brazil. The case of Lisbon, though exceptional, reflects many of the everyday realities of Jesuit communication during the Society's formative period. Several documents are published in an appendix.

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Keywords Brazil, communication, Jesuit colleges, Juan Alfonso de Polanco, letters, Lisbon, missions, news, Rome, scribal production
Persistent URL
Journal Journal of Jesuit Studies
Nelles, P. (2015). Cosas y cartas: Scribal Production and Material Pathways in Jesuit Global Communication (1547-1573). Journal of Jesuit Studies (Vol. 2, pp. 421–450). doi:10.1163/22141332-00203003