With all the pressures that the Jesuits were facing in France - a hostile Parlement, an upsurge of Gallicanism, the persistent skirmishes with Jansenism, the last thing the Society of Jesus needed was a financial scandal. The Lavallete Affair was a scandal which plunged the Jesuits into crisis. With a confluence in the boom of Jesuit foreign mission and a boom in trade between Europe and the Caribbean, the flair and enterprise of Antoine Lavalette led him to become first treasurer and then superior of the Jesuit mission to Martinique.
He was successful and became greedy - motivated not by personal profit but by a desire to make the mission financially independent. Bankrupted by English pirates he began chasing his debts. In an age when communications where ponderous - it was difficult for his alarmed superiors to get a grip on him, with letters being sent and left to the vagaries of insecure sea-lanes at a time of war. Creditors began heaping pressure on the Society and through the law courts argued that Lavallette's debt was the responsibility of the whole province - a claim that was resisted by the Provincial.
The significant enemies of the Jesuits must have been rubbing their hands with glee! The initial issue of the extent of the Societies financial liability, soon became a much wider question about the Societies very existence in France. Today in 1760 the provincial was to appeal to the Grand Chamber of the Parlement in Paris against the decisions of lower courts in Marseilles and Paris, that the French Jesuits as a body were responsible for La Vallette's debts. They were to loose this appeal - and soon the Constitutions were under investigation again, the works of Bellarmine and others were being publicly burnt and Jesuit schools were being closed.