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The Tartar moment: Martino Martini and the globalisation of Chinese cosmopolitics

1:00pm-2:00pm on Tuesday 19 March

Times shown are in GMT (UTC +0) up to the 26th March. For events on or after 27th March times are in BST (UTC +1).

Whipple Museum of the History of Science, Free School Lane, CB2 3RH

This talk will reveal how the Manchu conquest of China transformed the sciences, politics and their relationship to each other, during the early modern period. The ‘Tartar war’ between the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), peasant rebels and the Manchus – a Tungusic population from northeast Asia – was experienced by several Jesuit missionaries in China.

During the unstable interregnum, Jesuits sought patronage from disparate factions, offering their astronomical expertise to help various contenders secure the ‘Mandate of Heaven’ to rule legitimately over China. Based on their experiences in China, Jesuits came to view Chinese ‘cosmopolitics’ – that is, the entanglement of humanity and the cosmos – as a resource to solve urgent problems of social order in a crisis-stricken Europe.

Between 1653 and 1658, the missionary Martino Martini (1614–1661) was tasked with promoting the China mission in Europe, where he represented the new, Manchu-led Qing dynasty (1644–1912). In Europe, Martini published accounts of the Ming-Qing War (1654), China’s geography (1655) and its history (1658) with commercial printers, which reached a wide, interconfessional readership. He courted patronage from powerful Habsburg rulers and defended the Jesuits’ involvement in Chinese sciences and politics before the papacy.

Martini’s successful manipulation of different political, religious, commercial and scholarly networks across a turbulent Eurasia enabled his accounts of Chinese sciences to reach an extraordinarily wide audience. In turn, during the long 18th century, many prominent European writers drew on Martini’s accounts of Chinese ‘cosmopolitics’ to propose solutions to contemporary natural, social and political crises.

Booking/Registration is: UNAVAILABLE

Additional Information

Age: Adults
Format: Talk
Timing: In person
Cost: Free
Event Capacity: Drop-in event
Theme: Discovery
Accessibility: Accessible toilet, Lift, Step-free access

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