AQUAVIVA, CLAUDIO (1542-1615), fifth general of the Jesuits, the youngest son of the duke d'Altri, was born at Naples. He joined the Jesuits at Rome in 1567, and his high administrative gifts marked him out for the highest posts. He was soon nominated provincial of Naples and then of Rome; and during this office he offered to join the Jesuit mission to England that set out under Robert Parsons (q.v.) in the spring of 1580. The following year, being then only thirty-seven years old, he was elected, by a large majority, general of the society in succession to Mercurian, to the great surprise of Gregory XIII.; but the extraordinary political ability he displayed, and the vast increase that came to the Society during his long generalate, abundantly justified the votes of the electors. He, together with Lainez, may be regarded as the real founder of the Society as it is known to history. A born ruler, he secured all authority in his own hands, and insisted that those who prided themselves on their obedience should act up to the profession. In his first letter "On the happy increase of the Society" (25th of July 1581), he treats of the necessary qualifications for superiors, and points out that government should be directed not by the maxims of human wisdom but by those of supernatural prudence. He successfully quelled a revolt among the Spanish Jesuits, which was supported by Philip II., and he made use in this matter of Parsons. A more difficult task was the management of Sixtus V., who was hostile to the Society. By consummate tact and boldness Aquaviva succeeded in playing the king against the pope, and Sixtus against Philip. For prudential reasons, he silenced Mariana, whose doctrine on tyrannicide had produced deep indignation in France; and he also appears to have discountenanced the action of the French Jesuits in favour of the League, and was thus able to secure solid advantages when Henry IV. overcame the confederacy. To him is due the Jesuit system of education in the book Ratio atque institutio studiorum (Rome, 1586). But the Dominicans denounced it to the Inquisition, and it was condemned both in Spain and in Rome, on account of some opinions concerning the Thomist doctrines of the divine physical premotion in secondary causes and predestination. The incriminated chapters were withdrawn in the edition of 1591. In the fierce disputes that arose between the Jesuit theologians and the Dominicans on the subject of grace, Aquaviva managed, under Clement VIII. and Paul V., to save his party from a condemnation that at one time seemed probable. He died at Rome on the 31st of January 1615, leaving the Society numbering 13,000 members in 550 houses and 15 provinces. The subsequent influence exercised by the Jesuits, in their golden age, was largely due to the far-seeing policy of Aquaviva, who is undoubtedly the greatest general that has governed the Society.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)