Author: Artur K. WARDEGA, Director, Macau Ricci Institute
This paper discusses some of the most decisive and controversial moments in the history of the Jesuit mission in China during the Kangxi era (1662–1722) through a case study on the Portuguese Jesuit, Tomás Pereira (1645–1708). Tomás Pereira worked at the court of Kangxi for more than thirty years (1673-1708). He not only forged a unique and privileged personal relation with the Emperor, but also served as an innovative musician and a skillful mediator on Sino-Russian affairs. While the names of such missionaries as Matteo Ricci, Adam Schall and Ferdinand Verbiest are well known, Pereira has been relatively neglected, and this paper seeks to redress that imbalance. Pereira was important as a musician and diplomat and was closer to the Kangxi emperor than any other Westerner, which enabled him to exert considerable influence for the protection of the Chinese Christians and also to further the interests of Portugal in China. However, towards the end of his life he saw his efforts undermined by the damaging consequences of the papal legation to China led by Charles-Thomas Maillard de Tournon.
Jesuits, Kangxi reign, Rites controversy, Acta Pekinensia, Sino-Vatican relations
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