Macau, Macau


Main Themes

I. Acta Pekinensia as a Major Western Historical Source for the Kangxi Reign

1. The Acta Pekinensia Project: Historical Significance of Acta Pekinensia, Manuscript of Acta Pekinensia, Acta Pekinensia as a Literary Enterprise

2. Acta Pekinensia and the Context of the Rites Question: The Rites’ Questions-Japan, India and China

3. Acta Pekinensia in the Context of China-Europe Relations: The Apostolic Visitations to China, The Padroado Position

II. Other Western Historical Sources for the Kangxi Reign

An Overview of a Reign Through Western Historical Sources


  • 5-7 October, 2010


  • Macao Cultural Centre, Av. Xian Xing Hai S/N, NAPE, Macau, China


  • English, Chinese (Mandarin)


The Kangxi Emperor 康熙皇帝 (1654–1722) enjoys still much attention from Chinese and foreign scholars. There is great interest in any new historical sources that can contribute to a better understanding not only of his long fascinating reign (1661–1722) but also of his personal character and pragmatic style of rule.

The Macau Ricci Institute is conscious of the importance of contributing to better knowledge and use of historical materials of the Kangxi reign and we recognize that a comparatively neglected area are the Emperor and China’s relations with Europe and the European missionaries who were settled in China at the time. A few years ago our Institute therefore initiated a project of transcribing, translating and annotating the Acta Pekinensia (Events of Peking), an eighteenth-century Latin manuscript of 1446 folios, written by the German Jesuit Kilian Stumpf (1655–1720) and kept in the Jesuit Roman Archives.

The Acta Pekinensia is a collection of detailed reports on the actions and events (mostly at the imperial court of Beijing 1705–10) related to the papal legate, Charles Maillard de Tournon (1668–1710), who was sent to China for the purpose of settling one of the most fiercely fought and momentous debates in Sino-European history: the so-called Chinese Rites Controversy. Stumpf’s manuscript gives not only a day by day account of what happened during that time but also contains letters written by other Jesuits in several languages as well as translations of Chinese inner court documents, many since lost.

The basic motivation that underlies this ambitious project is a general belief that Western historical sources will play an important role in complementing Chinese sources, many of which have been recently published in various collections. Sometimes European sources give information on Chinese events that are either too commonplace or outside the literary conventions of Chinese sources to appear in Chinese records. Conversely, the Chinese saw as surprising or contradictory aspects of European behaviour that Westerners took for granted. That double perspective enriches and enlightens both the publication of the Acta Pekinensia and others existing sources. The double perspective situates the ‘Events of Peking’ in a new and broader light, which can be of great interest to Chinese and Western historians.

The purpose of the Symposium organised by the MRI is primarily to share with the scholarly community the results of the current research project to make this fascinating and important text widely known. In addition, the event aims to call or renew attention to the correspondence, reports and journals of missionaries residing at the court of the Kangxi Emperor, which constitute an invaluable source of information for the cultural, social, religious, and political history of this long reign.

Organising Institutions


Paul Rule 鲁保祿

The Historical Significance of the Acta Pekinensia

The Acta Pekinensia is a unique and precious document in that it both provides a detailed narrative of events from the arrival of the papal legate, Maillard de Tournon, in Beijing in 1705 to his death in Macao in 1710 (with some further comment on later events) and preserves the main documents relating to the legation, many otherwise lost. It is of value not only to the history of the Chinese Rites Controversy and the complex relations between the Holy See and the Chinese emperor, but for the light it sheds on court politics, the activities of the Jesuits at the court of China and the clash of national and theological agendas that led to the failure of the legation. It also highlights the personality and modus operandi of the legate himself and of his suite and supporters as well as confirming the view of the Kangxi emperor as probably the greatest of the Qing emperors. The ‘Acta’ is not only an extremely lively and readable document but one which remains of continuing relevance to Sino-Western relations and the future of Christianity in Asia.

Claudia von Collani 柯兰霓

Kilian Stumpf and his Acta Pekinensia Life, Context and Purpose of a Manuscript

Shortly before the arrival of the Papal legate Charles-Thomas Maillard de Tournon (1668–1710) in Peking, the Jesuits’ Visitor Claudio Filippo Grimaldi (1638–1712) made Kilian Stumpf (1655–1720) procurator and Apostolic Notary on behalf of this legation. This made Stumpf start collecting documents, letters and reports concerning the legation from the date of Tournon’s arrival at the Imperial Court. At first Stumpf only planned to describe the time Tournon stayed in Peking, but he thought it necessary to continue with an account of the events in China which followed the legation as well. In other words the Acta Pekinensia cover the period from December 1705 to May 1712.

As an inhabitant of the French residence at the Beitang (where Tournon stayed), as a member of the Inner Court and as a colleague and friend of the Manchu officials there, Stumpf had remarkable insights into the mechanisms of Court life. He wove the information he received from Chinese side and from the European missionaries into a huge document with more than 1400 folio pages. The manuscript not only proves Stumpf’s ability as an historian and a writer but also his understanding of the hidden mechanisms of the struggle between the two powers, the Chinese Kangxi emperor and the papal Legate Maillard de Tournon. The project of the Macau Ricci Institute to publish a transcription and annotated translation of the manuscript of the Acta Pekinensia in the Jesuits Archives in Rome after 300 years will finally give Stumpf’s masterpiece the audience it deserves.

Gerard Hughes, S.J. 杰拉德•休斯神甫

Four Portraits

My paper consists of portraits of three of the principal characters who appear in the parts of the Acta Pekinensia which I have translated. The aim is to give an impression of how the way in which they are presented comes across to an interested reader with only the most general knowledge of the history of the Rites Controversy. At the conference, I shall present a fourth portrait, which will be by way of a ‘live’ commentary on the other three, giving my picture of Kilian Stumpf himself from a Jesuit point of view.

Paolo Aranha

An Indian Prelude: Tournon's Stay and Action in Pondichéry on his Way to China

The stay of Carlo Tomaso Maillard de Tournon in Pondichéry between 6 November 1703 and 11 July 1704 was due to logistic necessities but produced far-reaching missionary consequences. At the end of his stay the Patriarch issued the Decree Inter graviores, banning certains forms of Jesuit accommodatio that eventually came to be known as the “Malabar Rites”. However, a closer look reveals that Tournon was initially well disposed towards the French Jesuit missionaries who hosted him in Pondichéry. He supported them in the controversy with the Capuchins over the pastoral care of the “Malabar” (Tamil) Christians and considered the “superstitious” rituals allowed by the Jesuits not sufficient to disqualify the whole of the missionary efforts of the Society of Jesus in that region since the times of Roberto Nobili. Furthermore, Tournon spent most of his stay in India fighting against the Capuchins of the Madras mission, whose Superior Fr. Michel Ange de Tours was in the Patriarch's eyes as powerful as the Archbishop of Goa because of its connections with the English, French and Dutch colonial milieus. Tournon's Commissioner in the Apostolic Visit of Madras, the Abbé Francesco Giacinto Biandrate di San Giorgio, tried to confiscate a substantial bequest detained by the Fr. Michel Ange. The aim was to provide the capital for the establishment of an East India Company sponsored by the Congregation of Propaganda Fide and staffed by Italian merchants. If the Malabar Rites were eventually the lasting legacy of Tournon's passage to India, an analysis of his overall jurisdictional action can be very useful in order to understand the assumptions and expectations that the Patriarch had about the Eastern Indies at the moment of his arrival to China.

Paul Rule 鲁保祿

The Chinese Rites Controversy: An Overview and Critique

The occasion of the papal legation of Charles Maillard de Tournon, which is the subject of the Acta Pekinensia, is the Chinese Rites Controversy which had been conducted intermittently in China and Europe for nearly a century. After an intitial flurry which resulted in a stalemate, it was revived by the arrival of new missionaries in the 1680s and eventually referred to Rome where a papal commission adjudicated it and from which a legate was despatched in 1702. The issues related to the interpretation of Confucianism and Chinese popular religion: the names or ‘terms’ in Chinese for the Christian God; whether Chinese Christians might practise ancestor rituals and follow customary funeral and mortuary practices; whether Chinese Christian scholars and officials might participate in rituals in honour of Confucius and other official rituals such as those to the City God.

This paper aims to outline the controversy and to dispel some erroneous ideas still found in popular literature such as: that it was a case of Jesuits vs the rest of the missionaries, that the Jesuits tolerated idolatry and were disobedient to Rome, and that they turned the Kangxi emperor against Clement XI’s legate.

Ilaria Morali 伊拉丽亚•莫拉里

Aspects of the Theological Debate in the Years Immediately Prior to the First Decree of Clement XI (1704)

This paper deals briefly with the following: (1) some significant details of private papal notes recently uncovered in the Vatican Secret Archive; (2) certain theological aspects of the controversy between the Jesuits and the Sorbonne, ► with particular reference to the relevant dogmatic questions (e.g. grace, knowledge of God, Faith, the Holy Spirit, cult/religion, etc.).

Specifically, the ‘private papal notes’ with which the paper deals are thirteen pages (recto/verso), written in the hand of Clement XI, regarding, as a heading suggests, the resolution of the Chinese Rites controversy. The notes were written, ‘after having heard the parties anew (dop[p]o aver udito nuovamente le parti)’, and are a veritable rough draft of the discourse by which the Pontiff would communicate to the Cardinals his final deliberation, which in turn would lead to the Decree of 1704.

The Pope’s personal analysis of the question makes reference to Maigrot’s mandate and makes explicit mention of the Sorbonne censure. We are going to explicate the properly theological aspects of the debate between the Jesuits (especially Le Comte) and their adversaries (the Dominican N. Alexandre stands out among them), just before and right after the Sorbonne censure.

Giacomo Di Fiore 乔科摩•迪•费奥雷

From Tournon to Mezzabarba

At the beginning of the 18th century Pope Clement XI Albani showed a big interest toward the Chinese rites issue, so much so that he organized an expensive legation entrusting Carlo Maillard de Tournon with the task of negotiating with emperor Kangxi possible ways of that Catholicism could penetrate into the Heavenly Empire, eluding Matteo Ricci’s strategy. The inauspicious outcome of the legation, due to the lack of involvement of Portugal and to the mistakes of Tournon – a man with a shady character and devoid of any diplomatic experience – didn’t discourage the pope, who, after having reaffirmed the Church’s point of view in the Papal Constitution Ex illa die (1715) and having made sure of Portugal’s benevolence, a few years later sent a second envoy to Kangxi, Carlo Ambrogio Mezzabarba. These two attempts on the part of Rome to make contact with the Heavenly Empire, taking advantage of the presence on the Chinese throne of a sovereign favorably disposed towards Westerners, show an evident search for negotiation: as a matter of fact the Ex illa die contains some significant and potential openness towards Chinese rites, and Mezzabarba himself had been asked to mitigate the provisions contained in that Constitution during the negotiation, a Constitution that would somehow be put in concrete form in the so-called Eight permissions. In both legations an attempt to force the hand of the Chinese monarch is anyway evident, not without shoddiness, and shifting the blame of the negotiation’s failure to Jesuits.

The unrepeatable moment of confrontation and possible dialogue between Church and Empire will in fact end with the departure – in a few months, one after another – of Clement XI and of Kangxi. In fact, the successors of pope Albani will not show the same interest towards the Chinese mission, and will not invest anymore in the same expensive resources to gain to Christ the souls of the Chinese empire, whereas on their part the emperors who succeeded Kangxi will not ever show the same tolerance of the great Emperor towards the Christian religion.

Thierry Meynard 梅谦立

Recent Chinese Translations (2000-2010) of Ancient Documents and Modern Studies Related to Missionaries in China in the 17th and 18th Centuries

Throughout the twentieth century, there was great interest among Western scholars in researching the history of Christianity in China in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the past thirty years academics in mainland China have once again entered this field of studies. Their main interest was to understand the transmission of Western knowledge and religion into China and to analyse its impact and reception in Chinese culture and society. In addition to developing research based on Chinese documents, these Chinese scholars have increasingly come to the realization that in order to gain a better understanding of the history of Christianity in China it is necessary to know about documents written in Western languages by the missionaries of the past. Concomitant with this academic trend, there is also a great surge of interest in understanding the cultural transmission from China to the West during the same period. This interest is spurred partly by a reaction to the discourse of the impact of the West on China and a wish to show that another transmission took place in the other direction, and that it was as important, perhaps even more important, than the transmission from the West to the East. All this has resulted in an abundant production of translations of Western historical documents into Chinese. This paper shall present the intellectual trends behind this phenomenon, analyse the concept of Western sinology, and make a general and critical overview of the books which have appeared from 2000 to 2010.

Patrizia Carioti 白蔕

The Zheng Regime vs. the Manchu Empire: The Significance of Vittorio Ricci’s O.P. “(Hechos de) La Orden de Predicadores en el Imperio de China” (1676)

The long and complex Ming-Qing transition lasted for several decades, from 1644 to 1683, if we take into consideration the so called “Rebellion of the Three Feudatories”, and the consequent annexation of Taiwan to the Chinese Empire, under the Kangxi Emperor’s sovereignty. The region of Fujian was directly involved in the Ming-Qing conflict, and shaken by continuous wars. There, in fact, the indomitable Zhengs had their stronghold. The Dominican Fr. Vittorio Ricci spent there many years working as missionary under郑成功 Zheng Chenggong’s favour and protection, both in Fujian and in Taiwan: a very important and trustful eyewitness of the crucial historical events that took place during his lifetime in East Asia and that can be considered extremely interesting and intriguing.

Ricci’s manuscript work “(Hechos de) La Orden de Predicadores en el Imperio de China” reveals itself as a primary source of undoubted importance, rich of significant information and colourful details about not only the courageous resistance conducted by the Zhengs against the conquering Manchu troops, but also regarding the settlement of the Zheng Regime in Taiwan. At the same time, the text, while dealing with Ricci’s religious mission and work among the Chinese population, throws a new light on the actual circumstances and concrete context of those years of war.

Vitor Luís Gaspar Rodrigues

Claudio Filippo Grimaldi SJ. 閔明我, Imperial Envoy to Europe and his secret mission

Fr. Claudio Filippo Grimaldi’s trip to Europe in 1686 sponsored by the Vice-Provincial Fr. Ferdinand Verbiest has been repeatedly analyzed in the context of the history of the Jesuit mission in China. An analysis that usually stresses the establishment of direct contacts with the Russian Tsar and the opening of a northern land route -- as an alternative to the maritime route Lisbon-Goa-Macau controlled by the Portuguese -- is the real scope of the Grimaldi’s trip, not only as a Jesuit Procurator but also as an alleged diplomatic envoy at the service of the Kangxi Emperor.

However, the document we propose to bring to analysis – a long memorial presented by Grimaldi to the King of Portugal and his government – shows clearly that both Grimaldi and Verbiest had different priorities according to the traditional alliance of the Society of Jesus with the Portuguese Padroado. As a matter of fact the true scope of the mission was to present in Lisbon to the King’s Government a set of elaborated proposals of a political and economic nature that aimed to ensure not only the survival of the Portuguese establishment of Macau, but also the use of the maritime route of the Cape with alternative variations, or new strategies of Jesuit penetration in the Chinese Court that included also the organization of a formal Portuguese embassy to China. In summary, a detailed program of joint defense of spiritual and temporal interests of the Society and the Padroado in Asia, gradually threatened not only by Dutch and English expansionism, but also by the emergence of French interests in that region.

Davor Antonucci 达沃尔•安托努奇

The Sino-Zunghar War: The Jesuit Sources

The Sino-Zunghar conflict in the last decade of the seventeenth century represents an important historical event in Chinese and Mongolian history. The conflict between Kangxi and Galdan, the Zunghar chieftain, lasted from 1690 to 1697. During this time Kangxi launched four personal expeditions beyond the Great Wall against his Zunghar enemy. Since the Emperor was accustomed to be accompanied during his trips outside the Great Wall ad res solatium et res literarias by the Jesuit Fathers, Antoine Thomas and Jean-François Gerbillon joined the 1696 and 1697 military campaigns. The conflict has been largely recorded in Chinese sources such as the 大清歷朝實錄 Da Qing Lichao Shilu (Veritable Records of the Qing Dynasty) and the 親征平定朔漠方略 Qinzheng Pingding Shuomo Fanglüe (Chronicle of the Emperor's Personal Expeditions to Pacify the Northwest Frontiers). The two Jesuits attached to the suite of the Kangxi Emperor also wrote accounts of the war and the events they witnessed which still remain to be studied. Gerbillon’s diaries were published in 1735 by Du Halde in the fourth volume of his Description géographique, historique, chronologique, politique et physique de l’Empire de la Chine et de la Tartarie Chinoise. On the other hand, Thomas’s manuscript entitled ‘De Bello Cam Hi Imperatoris Tartaro-Sinici contra Tartaros Erutanos. Feliciter confecto anno 1697’ is still unpublished. Besides the description of the military campaigns both Thomas and Gerbillon’s writings also contain remarkable information on the geography and history of Tartary, its inhabitants, their religious beliefs and customs. Their writings have to be considered as primary sources in Chinese history, to be compared to Chinese primary sources in order to find out new elements useful to complete our understanding of this historical event.

Isabelle Landry-Deron 蓝莉

The Kangxi Lessons in Western Sciences with the Jesuit Fathers J. Bouvet (1656–1730) and J.-F. Gerbillon (1654–1707)

Fathers Joachim Bouvet 白晋 and Jean-François Gerbillon 張誠, two French Jesuits who arrived in Peking in 1688, left testimonies about their tutoring of the Kangxi emperor from 18 October 1689 to November 1691. Bouvet’s diary in his own hand consists of 29 folios recto-verso and are kept in the National Library of France. Gerbillon’s testimony was eventually published in 1735, some thirty years after his death, by J.-B. Du Halde in volume 4 of his famous Description of the Empire of China. French publications at the time reported extensively on the lessons, while Chinese contemporary material is silent on the subject. The Kangxi 起居注 Qijuzhu (Diaries of activity and repose) do not record the contents of the lessons. According to Bouvet and Gerbillon, the language of teaching was Manchu. The manual used was common in French colleges. It was later translated and incorporated into the mathematical encyclopedia 御製數理精藴 Yuzhi shuli jingyun (Collected essential principles of mathematics) in 1723. Kangxi was 35 years old when the lessons began, the same age as Gerbillon, while Bouvet was their junior by two years. The three other European Jesuit teachers recorded were 南懷仁 Ferdinand Verbiest (1623–88), 安多 Antoine Thomas (1644–1709) and 徐日昇 Tomás Pereira (1645–1708). The learning process, the content of the tutoring and the motivations of the different parties will be discussed.

Emily Byrne Curtis

Kilian Stumpf, SJ at Kangxi’s Court, 1695-1720: A New Perspective on His Tenure as a Missionary-Artisan

European glass, by virtue of its colour and luster, appealed immensely to the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1662-1722), and this may have prompted him to establish a glass workshop. In 1695 the sovereign summoned Kilian Stumpf SJ (Ji Lian, 1665-1720) to Beijing and placed him in the French Jesuits’ residence. The following year Stumpf erected a glass works on a piece of land next to this complex, and began to introduce his glassmaking techniques to native artisans. Thus, by the time he started to compile the Acta Pekinensia, Stumpf had not only been at the capital for a decade, but had officiated for nine of those years as the founder and director of the imperial glass workshop. While his achievements have been duly acknowledged in studies of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) glass, this aspect of Stumpf’s tenure at court has received limited attention in works devoted to the history of the activities of the missionaries in China.

Kilian Stumpf’s glass workshop is mentioned in two eighteenth century Chinese texts; documents conserved in the Japonica/ Sinica division of the Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu; the archives of Propaganda Fide; and those of the Maison-Mere of the Congrégation de La Mission, i.e., the Lazarists, in Paris. Interestingly enough, a Chinese plan for this glass workshop was found housed in the latter’s archives.

Therefore, the intent of this paper is to study and present both known and other historical documents, and to delve into Stumpf’s time at the Jesuit college at Mainz. It will also explore the technological development of glass and enamels in China, their significance in terms of Chinese art, their inclusion in the gifts selected for the Pope and the King of Portugal, and by placing them in their proper setting, lead to a fuller understanding of Kilian Stumpf’s glassmaking art.

Michele Fatica 樊米凯

Ripa's [ Ma Guoxian 马国贤 ] Journal III (1716-1720) with New Documents for the History of the Kangxi Era

The secret issuing of the Apostolic Constitution [圣旨] Ex illa die, dated the 19th March of 1715, to missionaries in the Kangxi [康熙] Court points to two conflicts: one between the missionaries of the Society of Jesus and the missionaries sent by Propaganda Fide, and another between the emperor Kangxi and Pope Clement XI [格勒门德第十一]. ► When the Franciscan friar Charles Orazi da Castorano [康和子], vicar of bishop Bernardino Della Chiesa [伊大任], travelling from Linqingzhou See [臨清州] in Shandong Province, reached Beijing on the 5th November 1716, Kangxi was awaiting the answers of Pope Clement XI on the question of the Chinese Rites to two legations he had sent to the Holy See. The former (1707) was led by António Barros [龙安国] and Antoine Beauvollier [薄贤士], the latter (1708) was led by Giuseppe Provana [艾若瑟] and José Ramon Arxó [陆失石]. Instead Charles Orazi da Castorano arrived in hiding in Beijing to issue secretly the Apostolic Constitution that condemned with final appeal the Chinese Rites. The missionaries of the Society of Jesus (supporters of evangelization’s praxis founded on accommodation by Matthew Ricci, Li Madou [利玛窦] one century before) to protest against the uncorrect behaviour of Castorano, refused to administer the sacraments (baptism, confession, communion, viaticum). The missionaries sent to China by Propaganda Fide accepted the Apostolic Constitution and accused the Jesuits of working against the pope and against the purity of the Holy Faith. Not only that, they accused the Jesuits of spying, because they disclosed the true goal of Castorano’s presence in Beijing to Kangxi. The shocked emperor ordered the imprisonment of Castorano and of Teodorico Pedrini – this was an Italian musician, leader of the so-called “Propagandists” –: the first, accused of having acted behind Kangxi’s back, the second impeached for having hidden the news coming from Europe.

In the hard quarrel between the Jesuits and the “Propagandists”, Kangxi’s nobility stands out: at the end the emperor set Castorano and Pedrini free.


Latin documents relating to the quarrel between Jesuits and “Propagandists”: 1) Apostolic Constitution Ex illa die; 2) Self-defence by Teodorico Pedrini (Ripa kept the Chinese translation too); 3) [Kilian Stumpf], Informatio pro veritate contra iniquiorem famam sparsam per Sinas cum calumnia in PP. Soc. Iesu, & detrimento missionis. Communicata missionariis in imperio Sinensi. [Beijing] 1717.

Chinese Imperial documents : 1) Red manifest in Latin, Chinese and Manchu languages dated 1716, the 31st October [康熙五十五年九月十七日]; 2) Imperial decree on no preaching the Christian religion in China (1717); 3) The Jesuits José Soares [苏霖],Dominique Parrenin [巴多明] and Jioão Mourão [穆敬远] implore the emperor to allow the preaching of the Christian religion.

Chinese documents against the presence of Western people, especially missionaries, in China: 4) Memorial by Chen Mao 陈昴 against the presence of Western people in China [January 1717]; 5) First deliberation by Jiu Qing [九卿] Ministry, 17th April, 1717, on the memorial by Chen Mao; 6) Second deliberation by Jiu Qing [九卿] Ministry, 29th May, 1717, on the memorial by Chen Mao; 7) Assent by the Military Ministry [兵部写] on the Resolution of Jiu Qing Ministry.

Chinese documents relating to quarrel between Jesuits and “Propagandists”n. 6. Rome. 10.07.2010