This article analyzes the centrality of the Jesuit missionaries as indispensable agents in re-establishing negotiations with the Muslims of Mindanao and Sulu. In doing so, I discuss an unpublished Jesuit report: the Relación de las islas Filipinas (Manila, 1654) by the Jesuit Juan Francisco Combés (1620–65), which willfully conflated religious conversion with military intervention and conquest in the interests of securing a permanent base of operations in the southern Philippines. Spanish hegemony in the region was always contested. Therefore, Jesuit superiors strove to convince the civil authorities of Manila, and particularly the governor of the Philippines, don Sabiniano Manrique de Lara (in office 1653–63), to leave definitively the military strongholds in the Moluccas and instead to reinforce the military presidios located in the southern islands of Mindanao as the best way to stop the Muslim raids. Finally, the postscript analyzes the martyrdom of the Jesuits Alejandro López (1604–55) and Juan de Montiel (1632–55) as a propagandistic tool to cement the Jesuit contribution to the Spanish conquest and identify it with Catholic evangelization.
In 1579, four years after the visit of the Augustinian missionaries Martín de Rada and Jerónimo Marín to Fujian, a new group of Spanish friars reached China from the Philippines. The mission of Pedro de Alfaro, O.F.M., has generally been dismissed as a useless attempt to break the spiritual monopoly of the Society of Jesus in East Asia, which was perceived as an attempt to put at risk the careful labor of the first generation of Jesuit “giants.” However, as this study shows, the arrival of the Franciscans in Guangzhou cannot be simply regarded as a reckless behavior to “smuggle” the Gospel in China by means of some local Cantonese convert. Alfaro and his brethren pursued a specific goal, which was related to the recent achievements of Spanish diplomacy. Rather than Guangdong, they tried to reach the coast of Fujian (Chincheo), to carry on the mission of the Augustinians, who had visited Fuzhou in 1575. With the indirect support of some local encomenderos, the Franciscans intended to take advantage of the words of “friendship” expressed by Governor Liu Yaohui and other Mandarins to Rada and his fellows. Through a comparative analysis of European and Chinese coeval sources, notably some unpublished letters and reports, this article offers a reinterpretation of the aims and results of the Alfaro mission, shedding new light on a well-known but not yet fully explored page of the history of the early Christian presence in China.
The Jesuits played a vital role in the diffusion of crops, animals, agricultural practices, and eating manners throughout the early modern world. In the Mariana Islands (western Pacific), the arrival of the first missionaries in 1668 entailed the introduction of new foods and food-related material culture deemed necessary to establish a self-sufficient mission. However, during the first six years of the mission (1668–74), the resistance and opposition of the native inhabitants—the CHamoru people—to the Jesuits’ activities, the unreliability of maritime trade routes, the conflicts that arose inside the Society of Jesus, and the tensions between the Jesuits and the Spanish colonial authorities affected missionaries’ expectations regarding diet and cuisine. This article explores the strategies that the Jesuit missionaries followed to adjust their foodways to the social and physical environment of the Mariana Islands and pays attention to the process whereby local foods were adopted. In that sense, it argues that culinary accommodation—or “gastronomic accommodation” as defined by Cristina Osswald—was both a common practice to overcome the lack of Iberian resources and a political strategy to ease tensions and forge alliances with the indigenous population.
In the last years, a growing number of scholars of world history have focused on Jesuit networks, economic and cultural interactions in the Asian-Pacific territories. This introduction and the essays contained within the pages of this special issue bring religious mobility to the foreground, putting special emphasis on the way how “conversion” (both religious and cultural) transformed the trans-Pacific frontier into a zone of sustained contact and transculturation involving Europe, Asia, and the Americas. First, it explores contending networks of evangelization, which revolve around a basic premise: they were heterogeneous and uncoordinated, moving in unexpected and complex directions. Second, it analyzes the way in which Jesuit evangelization effected a “tricultural convergence” of Asian, Iberian, and indigenous cultures towards the production of a “global consciousness.” Finally, it examines a meta-history of Iberian globalization and empire, which emphasized a failed hegemony over Islamic territories of southern Philippines as much as diminished the native Filipino as historical subject.