Breaking the Chains

Page 31

Next Page >>

Twelve years after the death of Ricci, Adam Schall von Bell arrived in Peking (1622). Schall had been trained in Galileo's astronomy. The Chinese were impressed by Schall's understanding of astronomy and gave him official responsibility for translating works on European astronomy into Chinese, and for modernising the old Chinese calendar. Twenty-two years after Schall arrived in China the Ming dynasty fell (1644). Fu-Lin, the first Ch'ing emperor, who ruled under the name of Shun-chih, was close to Schall. It was this priest that the emperor Shun-chih called 'mafa' (grandfather). Shun-chih allowed 'mafa' to build a Roman Catholic church in Peking - Shun-chih occasionally attended Mass there. Schall was made head of the Imperial Board of Astronomy, and, after Schall had cured the Empress Dowager of an illness, Shun-chih accepted him as a trusted adviser. Three years after the death of Shun-chih 'mafa' was charged with plotting against the state, and of causing the death of the emperor by the casting of a spell. Schall was sentenced to death by dismemberment. The sentence was commuted because the day after Schall had been sentenced an earthquake struck - a bad omen. In 1668, two years after his death, Schall was cleared of all the charges brought against him. Schall had been unable to represent himself at his trial as he had suffered a stroke and could not talk. Ferdinand Verbiest, a Jesuit newly arrived in China, represented Schall at his trial. Adam Schall von Bell's Chinese name is T'ang Jo-Wang.

Ferdinand Verbiest became head of the Imperial Board of Astronomy after Schall. He was, like Schall, a trained astronomer. Hsuan-yeh, the K'ang-his emperor, employed Ferdinand Verbiest on various occasions. It was Verbiest who advised the emperor about the construction of cannon during the Revolt of the Three Feudatories. In 1678 Ferdinand Verbiest served as translator during negotiations with the Russians, and acquired knowledge of an overland route from Europe through Siberia to China. The German philosopher, Gottfried Leibniz, was inspired by Verbiest's description of Chinese civilization. Verbiest died on 23 January 1688. His Chinese name is Nan Huai-Jen.

It should be clear that when the Manchu general Dorgon and the Ming general Wu San-Kuei entered Peking in 1644, the Jesuits had already been there for forty-three years. As Jesuits introduced European science to China and became influential officials in the early Ch'ing government some explanation of who they were seems called for. Before moving on to talk about the Jesuits, it might be useful to outline what was taking place in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries.

The 16th and 17th centuries saw great social and religious change in Europe. Martin Luther began the Reformation in Germany in 1517. In 1534 Henry the eighth of England separated the Anglican Church from the Roman Catholic Church. The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) was founded in 1534. In 1536 Copernicus was asked to publish his work showing the Earth was not the centre of the universe, and in 1540 his student George Joachim Rhaticus took a manuscript to Leipzig via Nurnberg (where he encountered opposition from Luther and others) for publication. Mary Tudor of England persecuted Protestants from 1553 to 1558. The French wars of religion began in 1562. They ended in 1598. In 1600 the East India Company was formed - 'Romeo and Juliet' was playing at the newly built Globe theatre in London. James the fourth of Scotland became James the first of England in 1603. In 1618 the Thirty Years War began. In 1624 Richelieu came to power in France; Britain and Spain went to war. Britain and France went to war in 1627. Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden joined the Thirty Years War in 1630 and in 1635 France also became involved. In 1642 the English Civil War began and in 1644 (the start of the Ch'ing dynasty) Charles the first of England was defeated at Marston Moor. From 1652 to 1657 the English and Dutch went to war. They went to war again from 1664 to 1667 and again from 1672 to 1674. In 1689 France and England went to war. 1700 saw the start of the Great Northern War between Russia and Sweden.

Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus. He was born in Guipuzcoa, a Basque province, in 1491. At the age of fifteen Ignatius became a page in the service of Juan Velazquez de Cuellar, and in 1517, at the age of twenty-six, Ignatius became a knight in the service of Antonio Manrique de Lara. At this stage in his life martial arts training was his 'chief delight'. On 20 May 1521 a cannonball hit Ignatius. It damaged his legs. During convalescence he read a book about the lives of the saints that contained introductions by a Cistercian monk who saw service to God as holy chivalry. This view of life attracted Ignatius. He decided to do penance for his sins; so, from March 1522 to February 1523, Ignatius lived as a beggar in the town of Manresa - about thirty miles from Barcelona. It was at Manresa that Ignatius began work on his book 'The Spiritual Exercises'. In March 1523 Ignatius began a journey to Jerusalem. He arrived there in September, stayed until October, and then returned to Spain. He reached Barcelona in March 1524.

Next Page >>