Secret Instructions of the Jesuits - Diego Laynez

Chapter II.
Friendship of Princes and Noblemen

By what method the Principal Persons of the Society may acquire and preserve the familiarity of Princes, Noblemen, and persons of great distinction.

I. For this above all things, every effort should be made, that we may gain the ears and hearts of Princes and persons of distinction, so that there may be none who will dare to rise up against us, but that all may be obliged to depend upon us.

II. Experience teaches that Princes and Noblemen are especially pleased with ecclesiastical persons when they connive at their vices, and give them a favorable interpretation; such especially of the contracting of marriages within the prohibited degrees of affinity or consanguinity, and the like; they who desire such things are to be encouraged with the hope that by our influence, dispensations can easily be obtained from the Pope, which he will grant if the reasons be explained, examples produced, and opinions quoted, to show that it may be done for the promotion of the common good and greater glory of God, which is the scope of this society.

III. The same is to be done when a Prince attempts any enterprise which is not equally pleasing to all the nobility; for his mind is to be moved and excited to go on, but the minds of the others are to be persuaded to accommodate themselves to the ruler and not to oppose him; but this is to be alone in a general manner, never entering into particulars, lest should the enterprise not succeed, it be charged to the society; and should this act be disapproved at any time, contrary counsels should be provided plainly prohibiting the very thing; and the authority of some Fathers should be addressed, from whom the real counsels are concealed, who with an oath can attest that the society is calumniated when those things are insinuated respecting it.

IV. It will also greatly help us in joining the minds of Rulers if we skilfully, and by the aid of third persons, insinuate ourselves into embassies for them at once honorable and beneficial, which are to be undertaken to other Princes and Rulers; especially to the Pope and supreme Monarchs; for we can thus promote at once ourselves and the society; wherefore none but those devoted to our affairs and skilled in them, should be destined to this service.

V. The favorites of Princes, and especially their domestics with whom they are on familiar terms, by small presents chiefly, and by various duties of piety, are to be gained, that by them we may acquire faithful information respecting the humors and inclinations of Rulers and noblemen; so that the society may readily accommodate itself to them.

VI. Experience also teaches us as in the case of Austria and the Kingdoms of France and Poland, and other empires, how much the society may benefit itself by being concerned in the marriage contracts of Princes. Therefore, let those matches be carefully promoted as the most proper, where the parents and friends of the parties are our friends or associates.

VII. Distinguished women are most readily gained through those domestics, attached to the bed chamber; therefore let these be pleased by every method, for thus will access to all, even the most profound secrets in families, be opened.

VIII. In governing the consciences of the great, let our confessions follow the opinions of those authors who give the greater latitude to conscience, against the opinions of other religious orders, that they being left, the great will prefer to depend wholly on our direction and counsel.

IX. Rulers as well as prelates, and all others who can render extraordinary service to the society, are to become partakers of all the merits of the society; the greatness of so high a privilege having been first explained to them.

X. The unlimited powers of our society of absolving, even in cases which as it regards other pastors or religious orders, are reserved; also as it regards dispensing with fasts, keeping vows, or having them released, matrimonial impediments, and other affairs, are to be cautiously and prudently insinuated; by which it will happen that many will come to us and be bound to us by obligations received.

XI. Such are to be invited to discourses, meetings, orations, exercises, declamations, etc. complimented with verses and written themes, invited to entertainments, and honored in these, and various other appropriate ways.

XII. Let the animosities and dissentions amongst the great, be brought to us, that they may be settled; for so we can come gradually to a knowledge of their familiar and secret affairs, and can bind one party to our interests.

XIII. But if any one not attached to the society should serve a monarch or ruler, vigilance is required on our part; or what is better, on the part of others, he should be seduced by promises, favors and preferments, obtained for him through his prince or monarch, into the friendship and familiarity of the society.

XIV. Let all beware of recommending or promoting those who for any reason have been dismissed from the society, and especially, those who have voluntarily left it; for however they may dissemble, they will always bear an implacable hatred to the society.

XV. Finally, let all be solicitous so to conciliate the rulers, noblemen, and magistrates of every place that they may strenuously and faithfully support us, even against their own relations, kindred and friends, whenever the occasion requires it.