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Document Details :
Title: The Astronomia Europaea Treatises of F. Verbiest, S.J.
Author(s): GOLVERS, N.
Journal: Orientalia Lovaniensia Periodica
Volume: 27 Date: 1997
Very soon after his first visit to Peking in 1601, M. Ricci, S.J. (°1552- † 1610), the ‘founding father' of the Jesuit Mission in China, was well aware of the Emperor's fondness for European clocks and other instruments such as harpsichords etc., and the former provided him the occasion to enter the Court. Shortly thereafter, he would understand that European astronomy and mathematics were unbeatable challengers of contemporary Chinese science — since several centuries in a state of decline — in calculating a correct calendar and reliable eclipse predictions, both very important warrants of social and dynastic stability and continuity. Apart from this, the mechanical sciences would also become a first class vehicle to enter the highly sophisticated circles of mandarins and courtiers, in whom curiosity about European things never seen and about new astonishing techniques struggled with adhesion to their own uncontested traditions, with highly varying individual attitudes as a result. By all this, European science appeared to be an appropriate vehicle to approach the Chinese upper class, and, implicitly, to introduce Christianity in China.