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A tale of dynastic change in China : the Ming-Qing transition through Athanasius Kircher SJ's China illustrata (1667). [AHSI vol. lxxxviii, fasc. 175 (2019-I)]
AuthorGivon, Yuval 峰尤瓦
Pub. LocationRomaePublisherArchivum Historicum Societatis Iesu
Date2019Phys. Desc.pdf. [pp 49-101 (54 p.)]
LocationDigital ArchivesCall NumberDS753.2.G59 2019d
A tale of dynastic change in China : the Ming-Qing transition through Athanasius Kircher SJ’s China illustrata (1667) / Yuval Givon.
Extract from Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu vol. lxxxviii, fasc. 175 (2019-I)
Includes bibliographical references (p. 92-100) and glossary.

The Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher SJ is among the prominent writers of seventeenth-century Europe, and his China illustrata (1667) was one of the most celebrated and influential works on China of the period. The present essay examines the contexts and sources for Kircher’s description of the fall of the Ming dynasty and the conquest of China by the foreign Qing dynasty, a monumental event of global significance which attracted the attention of European scholarly circles and foreign powers alike. Strangely, while Kircher’s network of social contacts provided him access to the best sources available on the matter, including eye witnesses, as this essay outlines, his presentation of the events in China is odd, inaccurate, and, at times, misleading.

However, a closer examination of Kircher’s sources — especially the first-hand accounts of events from fellow-Jesuits visiting Rome — reveals tensions, disagreements, and conflicting narratives that existed within the Jesuit China mission during the transition period and might have influenced the author. Kircher’s intellectual enterprise was always intertwined with his religious piety and promotion of the Society of Jesus. Thus, this essay proposes that his ‘mistakes’ can be seen as an attempt to reconcile contradictory voices among the Jesuit missionaries and to offer a unified narrative to European readers, reshaped to fit the author’s devout vision of history as well as the religio-political needs of the Society of Jesus and its China mission.
Summary also in French.

Local access dig.pdf. [Givon-Kircher.pdf]

Subject(s)Kircher, Athanasius, 1602-1680. China illustrata
China--History--Ming-Qing dynasties, 1368-1911
China--History--Manchu conquest, 1643-1644
China--History--Southern Ming dynasty, 1644-1662--Sources
Jesuits--China--16th-18th centuries--Contributions in historiography
Rec. TypeExtract (PDF)LanguageEnglish
CollectionRicci Institute LibraryRec. #19824