July 2019: New History of Jesuit Missions in North America

A new history of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Jesuit missions in North America is now available in Bronwen McShea’s Apostles of Empire: The Jesuits and New France. The book is part of the “France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization Series” at University of Nebraska Press.


According to the publisher, McShea offers “candid portraits” of some of the 320 French Jesuits who served in the mission while also providing “a comprehensive view of a transatlantic enterprise in which secular concerns were integral.” Her account demonstrates that these Jesuits, though “committed to spreading Catholic doctrines and rituals and adapting them to diverse indigenous cultures,” also had other concerns. Specifically, they “devoted significant energy to more-worldly concerns,” such as “the transatlantic expansion of the absolutist-era Bourbon state and the importation of the culture of elite, urban French society.” In other words, French Jesuit missionaries preached and catechized “in terms that borrowed from indigenous idioms” while also engaging “in a range of secular activities,” including the establishment of “trade and military partnerships between the French and various Indian tribes.”


A table of contents appears below. More information about Apostles of Empire is available at the publisher’s website.



Apostles of Empire: The Jesuits and New France


Part I: Foundations and the Era of the Parisian Relations

Chapter 1: A Mission for France

Chapter 2: Rescuing the “Poor Miserable Savage”

Chapter 3: Surviving the Beaver Wars and the Fronde

Chapter 4: Exporting and Importing Catholic Charity

Part II: A Longue Durée of War and Metropolitan Neglect

Chapter 5: Crusading for Iroquois Country

Chapter 6: Cultivating an Indigenous Colonial Aristocracy

Chapter 7: Losing Paris

Chapter 8: A Mission With No Empire


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