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The Kangxi Emperor in Western Eyes (and Ears)

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Room 318, Education 2 (ED2)

La Trobe University

VIC 3086

Australia

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There has been much controversy amongst Qing Dynasty specialists on the respective merits of the early Qing emperors, Kangxi (reigned 1661-1722) and his grandson Qianlong (reigned 1736-1795). In this presentation, a case will be made for Kangxi’s achievements but especially on the basis of his personality, policies and actions as seen in an unusual and underused source – the records of the Jesuit missionaries at his court. In addition to their letters and reports, these records include, most notably, the Acta Pekinensia, the day by day account of the papal legation of Maillard de Tournon compiled by Kilian Stumpf, Director of the imperial glassworks, astronomer and Procurator for the Jesuit mission in the dealings between the Legate and the Emperor. These records cover not only formal events but the informal weekly meetings the emperor held with his ‘Western experts’; conversations on hunting trips and late at night on a wide range of subjects including politics, scholarship and religion; and negotiations over tolerance of Christianity. Sometimes they even include actual remarks of the Emperor in Chinese or Manchu. Together these documents give a privileged insight into the life of the Imperial Household and the person of the Kangxi Emperor.

About the Speaker

Dr Paul Rule is an Honorary Associate of the China Studies Research Centre, La Trobe University. He is on the Advisory Board of the Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History, University of San Francisco, a member of Macau Ricci Institute, Macau, China, and a former senior lecturer in history at La Trobe University. He is currently editing a four-volume annotated translation of the Acta Pekinensia from the manuscript held in the Jesuit Archives in Rome. The first volume has been published (The Acta Pekinensia or Historical Records of the Maillard de Tournon Legation, Jesuit Historical Institute, Rome 2015) and the other volumes will appear in a new Brill series edited by the Ricci Institute at the University of San Francisco.

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Room 318, Education 2 (ED2)

La Trobe University

VIC 3086

Australia

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