The Jesuits arrive in Tartu

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In 1583, the first Jesuits arrived in Tartu. They were generally from Germany and their main objective was to re-convert the people to Catholicism. As their reports showed, this was successful, foremost, among the Estonians, who had not yet accepted the new (reformed) religion and whose centuries long traditions had adjusted around Catholicism, thus making it much more closer to their hearts. In the case of the Germans, the Jesuits had little success, and they stayed true to Lutheranism.

In 1585 a seminar of the Jesuits started operating in Tartu, training translators who spoke Estonian and Latvian, and intermittently lasted till 1625, when Tartu fell into the hands of the Swedish.

Even some locals could get an education in the seminar, though there's no information of an Estonian student.

In 1583, a gymnasium of the Jesuits was opened as well and the first headmaster, a Netherlander by the name of Thomas Busaeus, was especially successful in both schoolwork and in converting the natives.

The Jesuits were forced to cease their activities in 1600, when the Swedes conquered Tartu. The resumed work some time after that, but never reached their former level of activity. When the Swedish conquered Tartu again in 1625, their efforts ceased completely.


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