is a fascinating study of the first official contact between Portugal and China. Beginning with the arrival of the embassy in China in 1517 and ending with the execution of twenty-three Portuguese in 1524, the story of the embassy is told through a diverse collection of first-hand and historical accounts, translated from the original Portuguese and Chinese into French. Written between 1515 and 1739, the documents include early Portuguese descriptions of the geography and culture of China, witness testimony from Portuguese and Chinese observers, and official and semi-official Chinese histories of the mission that were published subsequent to the events. Each of the documents in the collection is preceded by a short, helpful commentary about the source and its author, and the text is supplemented by copious notes. The documents in the collection highlight the mutual misconceptions and mistrust that led to the failure of the embassy, providing new insight into origins and development of the Portuguese empire in Asia and early Ming Chinese foreign relations. The first quarter of the book, which features an introduction and notes by Pascale Girard, summarizes the motivations, progress, and disastrous results of the embassy. It begins with a chronological account of
T'oung Pao – Brill
Published: Apr 10, 2014
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