Jesuit Mission and Submission: Qing Rulership and the Fate of Christianity in China, 1644-1735


Jesuit Mission and Submission explains how the Jesuits entered the Manchu world after the Manchus conquered Beijing in 1644. Supported by Qing court archives, the book discovers the Jesuits’ Manchu-style master-slave relationship with the Kangxi emperor. Against the backdrop of this relationship, the book reconstructs the back and forth negotiations between Kangxi and the Holy See regarding Chinese Rites Controversy (1705-1721), and shows that the Jesuits, although a group of foreign priests, had close access to Kangxi and were a trusted part of the Imperial circle. This book also redefines the rise and fall of the Christian mission in the early Qing court through key events, such as the Calendar Case and Yongzheng’s prohibition of Christianity.

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Litian Swen holds a Ph.D (2019) from The City University of New York. He has published several articles in Chinese on Chinese History.
"Jesuit Mission and Submission by Swen Litian is a thought-provoking, intelligently researched and presented, and very timely publication that I would advise all students of early Qing China and of the Jesuit missionary enterprise to read without delay." -Lars Peter Laamann, SOAS, University of London Journal of Jesuit Studies, 157-160.

"Litian Swen's work Jesuit Mission and Submission expands our understanding of the oft-celebrated Qing-era Jesuit missions through a thorough reorientation of the Jesuit experience as part of preexisting Manchu cultural traditions. By expanding the early modern cultural-conflicts paradigm by situating it in the context of Manchu culture, rather than the traditional Chinese-Western dichotomy, Swen brings a new perspective to well-trod historiographical ground... This work represents a significant shift in our understanding of cultural conflicts in early modern China." -Ashleigh Ikemoto, Georgia College and State University, The Journal of Asian Studies, 187-188.

"Swen's persistent focus on individuals (particularly emperors Kangxi and Yongzheng) and their family network also serves to explain how occurrences that elude historical patterns such as coincidences, personal choices, and unpredictable events can all contribute to shape history. It is in this light that Swen recommends historians to reassess the rise and fall of the Jesuit mission to China so as to provide a fresh perspective on a narrative otherwise focused on its inevitable failure. Such an original and well-documented argument, alongside the author’s meticulous analysis of the sources, are only two of the elements that make Swen’s study a valuable and welcome contribution to the field." -Giulia Falato, University of Oxford, Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu, 692-695.

"The combination of striking success and dramatic failure of the Jesuit missionaries as advisors to the seventeenth and eighteenth century Chinese imperial court has long attracted the attention of historians. Jesuit Mission and Submission by Swen Litian 孫立天 represents the latest effort to explain the dynamics of this unique historical relationship. As a revision of his dissertation (2019) and as a first book, it is a very impressive effort. The most successful part of the book deals with Swen’s attempt to show how the nature of the Beijing Jesuits’ relationship to the imperial court changed at the time of the Ming–Qing transition." -D. E. Mungello, Baylor University, Monumenta Serica, Journal of Oriental Studies
List of Figures and Tables

1 Confusions over the Relationship between Kangxi and the Jesuits
2 The Cultural-Conflicts Paradigm and Its Problems
3 Manchu’s Master-Slave Relationship
4 Booi Slaves and Qing Rulership
5 The Imperial Household Department in the Qing Power Network
6 Missionaries and the Imperial Household Department
7 Were the Missionaries Booi Slaves of Kangxi?
8 Viewing Missionaries through the Lens of the Master-Slave Relationship

The Jesuits’ Identity and Qing Rulership, 1644–1705

1 Jesuits and Their Entrance in the Manchu World
1 Captives in a Battlefield
2 Jesuits as Slaves and the Legacy of the Tong Clan
3 Manchus’ Impression of Europeans
4 Jesuits’ First Helpers
5 Jesuits’ Involvement in the Cannon Business
6 The Tong Clan and the Jesuits
7 Released from the Slave Status
8 Conclusion

2 The Jesuits’ Strategic Turn
1 Missionaries Arrested: the Calendar Case of 1664
2 The Manchu Way or the Chinese Way?
3 Manchu’s Religious Policies
4 Confucian-Christian Relationship on Schall’s Birthday
5 Yang Guangxian: Not a Confucian
6 Divination and Confucianism
7 Schall’s Involvement in Chinese Divination
8 Trials, and Buglio and de Magalhaens’s Manchu Network
9 Conclusion

3 The Jesuits and Kangxi’s Imperial Household Department
1 Kangxi’s Political Backbone
2 Jesuits’ Contributions
3 Jesuits’ Participation in Court Politics
4 Verbiest’s Strategy and Legacy
5 The Edict of Toleration
6 The Jesuits’ Identity in the Kangxi Court
7 The New French Jesuits and Their Network
8 Conclusion

Emperor Kangxi’s Negotiations with the Pope, 1705–1721

4 Kangxi, the Jesuits, and the First Papal Legation to China
1 The Kangxi Emperor and His Empire before 1705
2 The Papal Legation in Kangxi’s Eyes
3 The First Audience
4 The Chinese Rites Controversy During de Tournon’s Stay in Beijing
5 The Farewell Audience
6 The Jesuits’ Omission
7 After the Farewell Audience
8 Piao<
9 Conclusion

5 Kangxi’s Fourteen-Year Wait and the Second Papal Legation
1 Waiting for a Response from Rome
2 The Red Manifesto: Kangxi’s Open Letter to Europe
3 Kangxi’s Unusual Patience: Why?
4 Making Threats and Making the Deal
5 Conclusion

The Prohibition in 1724

6 The Yongzheng Emperor and Christian Missionaries
1 Kangxi’s Late Years
2 Yongzheng’s Enthronement
3 Missionaries’ Efforts
4 Why Did Yongzheng Prohibit Christianity
5 Yongzheng’s Own Explanations for Prohibition
6 The Prohibition from the View of Others
7 Buddhism: the Basis of Yongzheng’s Intellectual and Spiritual Mind
8 Buddhism and Its Influence on Yongzheng
9 Yongzheng’s Buddhism and the Prohibition of Christianity
10 Conclusion

Postscripts: Coincidences? the Rise and Fall of the Christian Mission

Appendix 1 Yongzheng’s Letter to Nian Gengyao Regarding the Master-Slave Relation
Appendix 2 Kangxi’s Note to Threaten the Prohibition of Christianity


All interested in Christian oversea mission, Jesuit mission to China, Qing history, Manchu rule in China, interactions between East and West, early modern world history, Emperor Kangxi and Emperor Yongzheng.
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