Catholic Missionaries in Early Modern Asia : Patterns of Localization book cover
1st Edition

Catholic Missionaries in Early Modern Asia
Patterns of Localization

ISBN 9781032086507
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
280 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Over recent decades, historians have become increasingly interested in early modern Catholic missions in Asia as laboratories of cultural contact. This book builds on recent ground-breaking research on early modern Catholic missions, which has shown that missionaries in Asia cooperated with and accommodated the needs of local agents rather than being uncompromising promoters of post-Tridentine doctrine and devotion. 

Bringing together some of the most renowned and innovative researchers from Anglophone countries and continental Europe, this volume investigates how missionaries’ entanglements with local societies across Asia contributed to processes of localization within the early modern Catholic church. The focus of the volume is on missionaries’ adaptation to four ideal-typical social settings that played an eminent role in early modern Asian missions: (1) the symbolically loaded princely court; (2) the city as a space of especially dense communication; (3) the countryside, where missionary presence was only rarely permanent; (4) and the household – a central arena of conversion in early modern Asian societies.

Shining a fresh light onto the history of early modern Catholic missions and the early modern Eurasian cultural exchange, this will be an important book for any scholar of religious history, history of cultural contact/global history and early modern history in Asia.

Table of Contents


Nadine Amsler, Andreea Badea, Bernard Heyberger and Christian Windler

Part I: Missionaries at Princely Courts

1 Between Convent and Court Life: Missionaries in Isfahan and New Djulfa

Christian Windler

2 "The Habit that Hides the Monk": Missionary Fashion Strategies in Late Imperial Chinese Society and Court Culture

Eugenio Menegon

3 Between Mogor and Salsete: Rodolfo Acquaviva’s Error

Ines G. Županov

Part II: Missionaries in Cities

4 Urban Residences and Rural Missions: Patronage and Catholic Evangelization in Late Imperial China

Ronnie Po-chia Hsia

5 The Post-Tridentine Parish System in the Port City of Nagasaki

Carla Tronu

6 Conflicting Views: Catholic Missionaries in Ottoman Cities between Accommodation and Latinization

Cesare Santus

Part III: Missionaries in the Countryside

7 Funding the Mission: The Jesuits’ Economic Integration in the Japanese Countryside

Hélène Vu Thanh

8 Trading Religious and Daily Goods: Franciscans in Semi-Rural Palestine (Seventeenth Century)

Felicita Tramontana

9 Rural Tibet in the Early Modern Missions

Trent Pomplun


Part IV: Missionaries and Households

10 Holy Households: Jesuits, Women and Domestic Catholicism in China Nadine Amsler

11 Women, Households, and the Transformation of Christianity into the Kirishitan Religion

Haruko Nawata Ward

12 Missionaries and Womena. Domestic Catholicism in the Middle East

Bernard Heyberger


Nicolas Standaert


Birgit Emich



List of contributors


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Nadine Amsler is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department for Early Modern History at the Goethe University Frankfurt. She is the author of Jesuits and Matriarchs: Domestic Worship in Early Modern China (Seattle 2018). She is also one of the editors of a special issue of the International History Review entitled Transformations of Intercultural Diplomacies. Comparative Views on Asia and Europe (1700 to 1850) (forthcoming).

Andreea Badea is a researcher at the Department for Early Modern History at the Goethe University Frankfurt. She is the author of Kurfürstliche Präeminenz, Landesherrschaft und Reform: Das Scheitern der Kölner Reformation unter Hermann von Wied (Münster 2009).

Bernard Heyberger is Directeur d’Études at the École des Hautes Études des Sciences Sociales and at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. He is the author of Les chrétiens du Proche-Orient au temps de la Réforme catholique (Rome 1994) and, more recently, Les chrétiens au Proche-Orient: De la compassion à la compréhension (Paris 2013).

Christian Windler is Professor of Early Modern History at the Department of History of the University of Bern. He is the author of La diplomatie comme expérience de l’Autre. Consuls français au Maghreb (1700–1840) (Geneva 2002) and Missionare in Persien: Kulturelle Diversität und Normenkonkurrenz im globalen Katholizismus (17.–18. Jahrhundert).