Macau, Macau


Main Themes

  • Tomás Pereira: the Man and the Missionary
  • The China Mission in the time of Kangxi Emperor
  • Tomás Pereira, Science and Mission
  • Tomás Pereira and the Music in China
  • Tomás Pereira, the Court and the Chinese Culture
  • Tomás Pereira and the Sino-Russian Negotiations of Nerchinsk


  • Lisbon: 10-12 November, 2008
  • Macau: 27-29 November, 2008


  • Lisbon: Auditorium of the Museu do Oriente, Fundação Oriente
  • Macau: Inspiration Building, Institute For Tourism Studies


  • Lisbon: English, Portuguese
  • Macau: English, Chinese (Mandarin)


The symposium examines one of the most decisive and controversial moments in the history of the Jesuit Mission in China during the reign (1661-1722) of the Kangxi Emperor (1654-1722). One of the most outstanding and enlightened Chinese monarchs, Xuanye's celebrated cultural tastes, scientific curiosity and political sensibility led to the admission of the Jesuits at his court. This attitude had its apex in the proclamation of the Edict of Tolerance of March 22, 1692, allowing the Catholic faith to be preached and practiced in China. It was a relevant and uncommon gesture of openness towards the West that led to the flourishing of the Catholic Mission in China. It also confirmed the respectability of Western learning in China and secured Macau's fragile situation as a European entrepôt. To all of this the Portuguese Jesuit, Tomás Pereira S.J. (1645-1708) contributed decisively, as is clearly demonstrated by the full text of the Edict of Tolerance, which with the imperial eulogy was transcribed on his tombstone. Tomás Pereira also played a crucial role in trying to appease the famous Rites Controversy in China after Western politico-religious animosities had disrupted the Kangxi Emperor's original attitude of benevolence towards the Catholic Missions.

Working at the court of Kangxi for more than thirty years (1673-1708), Tomás Pereira not only forged a unique and privileged personal relation with the Emperor, but also served as an innovative musician and a skillful mediator on Sino-Russian affairs. He built the new Nantang Church in Beijing, and was a pro interim Prefect of the Court of Mathematics, as well as an effective representative and protector of the Christian missions in China. This symposium reviews from an interdisciplinary and primary source perspective Tomás Pereira´s life and work in the contexts of the China Mission and of Chinese Politics and Court Culture. It was, in fact, a rich and unique moment of dialogue of China with the West and constitutes an inspiring experience for the future. For this reason, the symposium takes as its starting point the 300 th anniversary of the death of Tomás Pereira, whose intellectual skills, dedication, loyalty and moral authority made him one of the most influential and respected Jesuits in the inner circle of the Kangxi Emperor.

Organising Institutions

  • Instituto do Oriente ISCSP (Universidade Técnica de Lisboa)
  • Centro de História das Ciências Faculdade de Ciências (Universidade Clássica de Lisboa)

Co-organising Institutions

  • Reitoria da Universidade Técnica de Lisboa
  • Centre for the Study of Christianity ― Institute for World Religions ― Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  • National Research Center of Overseas Sinology ― Beijing Foreign Studies University
  • Chinese Province ― Society of Jesus
  • Province of Portugal ― Society of Jesus
  • Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu
  • Fundação Oriente

Paul Rule 鲁保禄

Tomás Pereira and the Jesuits of the Court of Kangxi

Tomás Pereira (1645-1708) was one of the Patres Pekinenses, Jesuits who lived in Beijing and worked in various capacities for the Emperor and his Court. Very few were mandarins in the strict sense but rather members of the Inner Court or household of the Emperor, performing whatever tasks the Emperor required of them. Some of them became more intimate with the Emperor as tutors and musicians and a very few, of whom Pereira was an outstanding example, became personally close to him. Some reasons are suggested why this was possible in general and for Pereira in particular.

张先清 ZHANG Xianqing

The Image of Tomás Pereira as seen from Chinese Documents during the Qing Dynasty

After the death of Ferdinand Verbiest, S.J. (1623-1688), Portuguese Jesuit Tomás Pereira (1645-1708) became another Catholic priest who continued to have a certain impact on the history of the early Qing Dynasty. He not only played an important role in the spread of Catholicism in the Kangxi (1654-1722) period, but also helped the Qing Court to sign the Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689) with Russia. Researches concerning the activities of Tomás Pereira in the past were basically based on Western sources while Chinese sources to some extent were ignored. In fact, there were some records about Tomás Pereira among the existing Chinese documents of the Qing Dynasty. The aim of this paper is to sort out these records regarding Tomás Pereira. We can find that, apart from some Qing official documents such as the 清通典Qing Tongdian, the清朝文献通考Qing Chao Wenxian Tongkao, there were also some interesting sources about Tomás Pereira among those voluminous collections of literati writings of the Qing Dynasty. Such sources provide a unique perspective for scholars to study from the Chinese context’s point of view the image of Tomás Pereira and other Jesuits.

António SALDANHA 萨安东

The Last Imperial Honors. Fr. Tomás Pereira, Nantang and the Eulogium of the Europeorum Doctorum in 1711

Honours, especially imperial honours, individual or collective, have a well known and distinctive role in Chinese culture. The Jesuit Padres da Corte – as individuals or collectively – were (possibly more than any other foreign individuals or group during the Shunzi and the Kangxi Emperors reigns), the beneficiaries of those distinctions. Exceptional and sophisticated imperial honours were granted to Schall, Verbiest and Pereira as individuals. Formal collective honours – assumed by the Jesuits as directed not to them but ad majorem Dei gloriam by a pagan monarch – are less common. In 1711, as he had done in 1675, the Kangxi Emperor decided to give the “Portuguese Church” (vulgo 南堂 Nantang) three calligraphic compositions of religious inspiration. The exceptional grant was supposed to commemorate the inauguration of the new church of the Portuguese Mission, a posthumous accomplishment of Tomás Pereira; under the Emperor’s patronage, he had conceived and directed the works of rebuilding the temple since the last decade of the seventeenth century until his death in 1708. Conceived, produced, carried on, displayed, the gift was installed with an elaborated ritual in the southern church during a period of trouble for the Christian mission, the consequence of Maillard de Tournon’s apostolic legation. This unusual and “collective honour” still waits for the full attention of the historiography of the Christian mission. In parallel, the participation of the highest officials of the Board of Mathematics headed by the 钦天监监正 Qintianjian Jianzheng, the First President 明图 Ming Tu in the cortège and ceremony of inauguration of the new church, was exceptional; the public display by them of an eulogium of the Europeorum Doctorum – eventually conceived and no doubt endorsed by the Emperor – deserves also our attention as another peculiar “collective honour”. Actually, the text of the eulogium can reveal itself as a significant Chinese conception and formulation of the European contribution to the “sciences” in China; it can also be interpreted as an honourable consecration, authorized by the Kangxi Emperor, of a chosen number of Jesuits: since Matteo Ricci, Tomás Pereira included, they where associated with that kind of services to the Emperors of China. The eventual criteria of that selection, the concept of “scientific contribution” and the exceptional circumstances that, by initiative of the Emperor, surrounded the inauguration of the Portuguese Church are the subject of this paper.

龚缨晏 GONG Yingyan

The Fruits in the Light and Shadow of Kangxi’s Edict – a study of some Chinese documents kept in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana

In Borg Cinese 376 kept in Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, there are some documents about Tomás Pereira (1645-1708) and Christianity in China under Kangxi (1654-1722). This study shows that Kangxi’s “Tolerance Edict” of 1692 was the product of the Jesuits’ protest against the anti-Christianity movement in Zhejiang. The Edict was quoted by many local offices to protect the European missionaries in the beginning of eighteenth century. In Jiangxi Province, the missionaries were allowed to buy land to build church, and were not allowed to be disturbed by the provincial authority. In Yanzhou of Zhejiang Province, Artus de Lionne was also allowed to buy land to build a church. In Ningbo of Zhejiang Province, French Jesuit Jean-Alexis de Gollet built a church in the centre of the city. By the documents included in Borg Cinese 376, evidence is given that Christian fruits developed fairly well in the light and shadow of Kangxi’s edict of 1692.

Thierry MEYNARD, S.J. 梅谦立

The Conditional Service of Missionaries to the Court and the Opposition from Han Literati

In 1691, some Han officials were growing worried about the spread of Catholicism. They were especially worried that the Manchus may adopt this foreign religion and change national culture. On the other hand, the Jesuit missionaries had already served the Court for ninety years. Though they enjoyed at that point the personal support of the Emperor Kangxi (1654-1722), yet their missionary activities never received legal protection. A general persecution was stirred up in Zhejiang. This gave a long-expected opportunity for the two camps to confront. While Han officials at the local and central levels were pushing for the strict enforcement of previous religious restrictions and even establishing a general proscription, the Jesuits were putting more pressure on Kangxi for legalizing Catholicism. This paper analyzes the strategies of the two camps and how Kangxi was finally obliged to take a stance.

Tereza SENA 冼丽莎

After the Edict. Tomás Pereira’s Appeal to Coimbra and the Portuguese Recruitment to China

The diplomatic talent and musical skills of Tomás Pereira, S.J. (1645–1708) are better known than his missionary ideas, not to speak about his pastoral activity.

Pereira’s attitude towards the Jesuit China Mission has been described by Western historiography as an obstinate defense of the interests of the Portuguese Padroado, something that can not be denied. However, he was neither alone ― his was a position followed also by several non-Portuguese Jesuits ― nor an extremist: after all, he was just a follower of the founding universalistic principles and ideals of the Society of Jesus.

Pereira’s position towards the Rites Controversy, the Chinese liturgy, the native clergy and missionary recruitment, not to speak of the Mission’s organization, hierarchical dependence, logistics, financial funding and survival, among others, are aspects poorly studied. He nevertheless had been entrusted with important responsibilities in the Society of Jesus as Rector of the College of Peking (1688-1691), Vice-Visitor of the Peking sector (1687-1688 and 1691-1692) and finally Vice-Provincial of the Chinese Vice-Province from June 29 1692 up to the same date of 1695.

In this context, this presentation will focus on Pereira’s position towards the missionary recruitment for and in China after the proclamation of the Edict of Tolerance in 1692. This relates to the Westerner missionary’s profile, especially the Portuguese, and Pereira’s evaluation of the results produced by the efforts the Jesuits had been making for about two decades to constitute a native Chinese clergy (the case of Macau is not studied here).

Not aiming to be exhaustive, this contribution is rather exploratory but supported by two unpublished letters of Tomás Pereira. The first, more deeply analyzed, is dated June 15 1692 and addressed to the Colégio de Coimbra, calling for Portuguese Jesuit to be sent for China. The second, written on August 30 1693, contains Pereira’s information on those missionaries, mainly Chinese, who would progress within the Order and be admitted to the fourth and last vow.

Henrique LEITÃO 雷恩礼

Portuguese Jesuits and the Scientific Apostolate during Tomás Pereira’s Time

Although the topic of the scientific activities of the Jesuit missionaries in China has received great attention in the past decades, the specific contribution of the Portuguese missionaries has generally been neglected. This is to be regretted not only because the Portuguese were numerically the larger group of missionaries living in China, but most of all because the need to send trained missionaries to China placed unexpected tensions in the educational system of the Portuguese Province. Recent studies have emphasized the long-range nature of the Jesuit network of colleges and learning institutions and have clarified some of the aspects of the transmission and accumulation of knowledge within that network. Furthermore, political circumstances also played a significant part in the shaping of scientific activities in the Portuguese province, an aspect that would have important consequences in the China mission. In this presentation I will address these topics, focusing specifically in the period of Tomás Pereira’s (1645-1708) life and on the career of Pereira himself.

史玉民 SHI Yumin

Textual Researches on the Position and Construction of the Qing Dynasty Qintianjian Yashu [Qing Dynasty Astronomical Bureau]

The former position of Qing Dynasty Astronomical Bureau (Qintianjian yashu) was recorded in some local chronicles and maps about Beijing. But after 1900 it had been moved to another place. ► The author fixes the latter position of the Qing Dynasty Astronomical Bureau on the basis of historical materials recorded in Beijing Zhi edited by服部宇之吉Hattori Unokichi. In addition, according to Qing Dynasty Gongbu archives, the author clarifies the construction of the Qintianjian yashu which possessed one hundred and ten rooms, including the 协政堂 xiezhengtang, 主薄厅 zhuboting, 五官厅 wuguanting, 宪书房 xianshufang, 司书厅 sishuting, 时宪科 shixianke, 天文科 tianwenke, 漏刻科 loukeke for routine; 板库 banku for storing the book boards and 斋戒房 zhaijiefang, 土地庙 tudimiao, etc., for sacrifice and enshrinement.

Antonella ROMANO

Defending European Astronomy in China... Against Europe: Tomás Pereira and the Tribunal of Mathematics in 1688

My aim here is to insert the reading of an unpublished document from the Portuguese archives, written by Pereira and Thomas in 1688, within a broader context the starting point of which can be found in an internal dispute among the brothers of the Chinese province in the 1640s and its conclusion – as far as this can be said – in the Chinese rites controversy. At the core of the document, the need to defend Jesuit’s presence at the Court of Mathematics, opens interesting new perspectives on the scientific dimension of the mission and its evaluation among both the Society of Jesus and the European learned élites.

Peter PERDUE 濮德培

The Jesuits at Nerchinsk: Language, War, and Ethnicity

The negotiations between the Russian and Chinese empires at Nerchinsk involved a multitude of actors speaking different languages, with different cultural backgrounds and goals. The negotiators included Manchus, Chinese, Russians, Poles, Mongols, and the Jesuit advisors. The Manchu rulers of the Qing aimed to create a secure border and prevent an alliance between Russia and their greatest enemy, the Mongolian federation led by Galdan. The Chinese subjects of the Manchus had much less interest in Central Asian affairs, but supported the Manchu restoration of order in China. The Russians in Siberia had previously only extracted tribute from weak Siberian tribes and disparate Mongolian khans, but for the first time they confronted a militarily strong and centralized empire in Asia. All sides had to adjust their expectations to bridge these large cultural divides. Pereira and the Jesuits skillfully exploited their intermediate position between the two empires to gain influence with both Russia and China. The Nerchinsk settlement was a turning point in Eurasian history because of their influence.

Vladimir Stepanovich MYASNIKOV 米亚斯尼科夫

Tomás Pereira at the Nerchinsk Conference

The Diary of Tomas Pereira (1645-1708), which he wrote being a member of the Qing delegation at the Sino-Russian negotiations at Nerchinsk, is a very important historical document. It was translated from English to Russian and published as a part of the volume two Russian-Chinese Relations in the XVII century in 1972. This publication allowed us to compare the characteristic features of the Russian and Chinese diplomatic schools.

陶亚兵 TAO Yabing

On Tomás Pereira’s Musical Writings

Tomás Pereira (1645-1708) is a famous preacher who has had also a great and important impact as a musician on the history of musical exchange between China and Europe. He won the praise of the Kangxi Emperor in Qing dynasty because of his outstanding musical ability, a gift for which he could also access into the imperial palace and, as an imperial music instructor, teach Western music to the children of the Emperor. He wrote the《律吕纂要》Lülü zuanyao [Elements of Music] in Chinese which was the first European musical teaching material spread in China. He brought the systemic European musical theory to China, a fact that made the history of musical exchange between China and the West to enter into a new stage of learning for the sake of seeking novelty.

As a missionary who writes religious music, he also effectively expanded the channels through which Western religious music spread in China, beginning with Matteo Ricci contributing a clavichord. He also constructed a large organ in the Xuanwu Men church of Beijing, the wonderful and novel tones, the sophisticated mechanical structure of which were a Western unusual feature in Beijing that attracted many people. Many Chinese scholars among them left descriptive articles and poems about this pipe organ.

Gerlinde GILD 戈林德.吉而特

Mission by Music. The Challenge of Translating European Music into Chinese in the Lülü Zuanyao

Much has been written about the eminent role of music and rites in the Chinese world order. From the beginning of the Chinese civilization music and power were symbiotically associated. Correct sounds were believed to be attuned to the sound of the atmosphere. Incorrect sounds would disturb the whole system. Ritual music represented the legitimation to rule and its correct sounds legitimated power and kept it upright. Therefore, wise emperors paid keen attention to ritual music, which was reserved for the Court. The locus classicus is found in the Lüshi Chunqiu, chapter guyue.

The Jesuits, who came to China, soon recognized the eminent role of music in the Chinese world order. From the beginning, Matteo Ricci used music as language and medium in the conversation with Chinese rulers.

Recommended by Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-1688), Tomás Pereira (1645-1708) was ordered from Macau to the Palace in Beijing by Emperor Kangxi (1654-1722). Already impressed by Pereira’s successful negotiating in Nerchinsk, he also wanted him to teach music to the princes in order to ensure their comprehensive knowledge (boxue) in all aspects concerning music. However, Kangxi’s intention to revise the Chinese musical system was not without political motives. In order to teach musical theory, Pereira wrote the Lülü Zuanyao, the first tractatus on European music in Chinese language.

In my paper I intend to give a brief introduction into this book, which is not only an example of Pereira’s excellent knowledge of Chinese and European music, but also reflects his competence in this extraordinary transcultural process.


Tomás Pereira, the Nantang, its Organ and the Introduction of Roman Catholic Church Architecture in Beijing

Beijing’s venerable South Cathedral, the Nantang––today the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception––is believed to have been the first artistically significant Roman Catholic church to have been constructed in a European style in Beijing. It was originally built under the famous German Jesuit Adam Schall von Bell (1591-1666) in 1650, but was renovated during subsequent decades.

Knowledge of the renovated Nantang is scant, but according to the testimony of the Jesuit missionary Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-1688), the famous Flemish astronomer active at the court of Kangxi (1654-1722), the intervention of Tomás Pereira (1645-1708) towards the end of the century was a turning point for the architecture of the building. According to Verbiest, Pereira added a large clock with carillon and an equally impressive organ, thus practically transforming Schall's church. This paper examines questions related to the architecture of the Nantang, as well as the changes brought about by Pereira’s participation, including his large organ as a feature later to become characteristic of Rococo church architecture.

古偉瀛 Ku Weiying

Fr. Tomás Pereira, S. J., Emperor Kangxi and the Court Westerners

Fr. Tomás Pereira, S. J. (1645-1708) was one of the most trusted Inner Court Westerners of Emperor Kangxi (1654-1722) and probably also the most important Portuguese Jesuit in China. He and other Court Westerners enjoyed Emperor Kangxi’s favours and trust. It was during Pereira’s Beijing years that the Chinese Emperor Kangxi issued the famous “Edict of Tolerance”, allowing Chinese to convert to and practice the Catholic religion. This edict of 1692 was the culmination of Emperor Kangxi’s trust and friendship with the Jesuits Court Westerners; but later on it was undermined by the Rite’s Controversy in the early eighteenth century. This essay’s purpose is to trace the causes of the edict, the events before and after the issuing of the edict, and the role played by Tomás Pereira and other Court Westerners. Despite the fact that the “Edict of Tolerance” had been the result of the accumulated efforts of the Court Jesuits since Adam Schall (1591-1666), it is argued that it was indeed Tomás Pereira and his companions who made the last push for the issuance of the Edict.

金国平 JIN Guoping

Amicíssimos – Tomás Pereira and Zhao Chang

趙昌 Zhao Chang (Manchu name: Chuliama), the son of a Manchu courtier, a childhood companion and a member of the inner circle of the Kangxi Emperor (1654-1722) until the sovereign’s death, is a constant presence all along Tomás Pereira’s (1645-1708) life.

For Chinese historiography, Zhao Chang is still an enigma that the scarcity of Chinese sources do not help to solve. This paper aims to prove that Jesuit sources in Western languages are indispensable and highly valuable to know and understand this personage that cannot be dissociated of the personal history of the Kangxi Emperor and of the Court culture of the time.

A key person in the first contacts of the young Emperor with the Jesuit priests Gabriel de Magalhães (1610-1677), Luigi Buglio (1606-1682) and Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-1688), Zhao Chang is one of the keys to understand the unusual intimacy of Tomás Pereira with the Kangxi Emperor, being also a protector of the Jesuits in the Imperial Court and intervening in all the relevant moments of Tomás Pereira’s career in China.

Glenn TIMMERMANS 格列•廷默曼斯

Tomás Pereira – Reflections on His Diary

The work, known as the Diary of Tomás Pereira S.J., first published in Portuguese and English, translated and edited by Joseph Sebes S.J., and published in Rome in 1961, is not, strictly speaking, a diary in our normal understanding of that word. It is, instead, a detailed narrative, clearly written after the conclusion of the Sino-Russian Treaty of Nerchinsk of 1689, after Pereira’s return to Beijing. The original manuscript of this diary has been lost but two copies in Portuguese are extant, from which this work derives. This paper will examine Pereira’s intentions in writing this diary, and will seek to show that it was intended largely for his superiors in Rome and thus its attempts to demonstrate the efficacy of the Jesuit fathers in this important diplomatic mission. It is a unique window into Pereira’s own views and attitudes as it reflects his frustrations with the Manchu approach to international relations as well his respect for the Russians, and while Pereira was clearly motivated by his loyalty to the Chinese Emperor, the opportunity afforded by his participation in this mission also allowed him to advance Jesuit interests in both China and Russia.

Eugenio MENEGON 梅欧金

Ubi Dux, Ibi Curia: Kangxi’s Imperial Hunts and the Jesuits as Courtiers

This paper will compare the accounts by Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-1688), Francis Gerbillon (1654-1707), and Tomás Pereira (1645-1708) written in 1682-1685 during Kangxi’s (1654-1722) hunting trips in "Tartary", and analyze their descriptions within the context of "imperial touring" and Manchu aristocratic hunting, as well as within the imperial desire for "portable science & art" to be displayed to the court during the summer retreats. Kangxi took along Verbiest, Gerbillon and Pereira on his hunts in the 1680s because he wanted them to do "science" and "music" for him while on vacation beyond the wall, and display their knowledge, and his understanding of it, to his courtiers. Verbiest, Gerbillon and Pereira, on their part, took this as a form of special imperial patronage and favor, to be used to gain prestige for themselves and the mission in front of the aristocrats participating in the hunts. The paper will explore what these dynamics tell us about Manchu Court culture, and the participation of non-Han people (in this case, European courtiers) in that culture and networking.

Claudia von COLLANI 柯兰霓

From the Earthly Court to the Heavenly Court. The Funeral of Tomás Pereira

From 1673 till his death in 1708, Tomás Pereira (1645-1708) stayed in the service of the Kangxi (1654-1722) Emperor at the Court. As such he received a special funeral which combined Christian elements with the honours given by the Emperor. In this way, Pereira’s funeral contributed to the prestige of the Christian Religion, something so important in China.

余三乐 YU Sanle

The Vicissitudes of the Portuguese Seminary in Beijing and the Misfortune of the Tombstone of Tomás Pereira

Tomás Pereira was buried in the Portuguese seminary in the western suburb of Beijing after he had died in the capital three hundred years ago in 1708. The seminary, originally granted to Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) as his final resting place by the Wanli Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, was later approved by the Shunzhi Emperor to accommodate the tomb of Johann Adam Schall von Bell (1591-1666) as well at its west side. The position of the tomb of Tomas Pereira was close to that of Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-1689). In the past three hundred years, the seminary, where many of the Western missionaries took their final rest, has witnessed a plethora of vicissitudes such as the “Gengzi event” or Boxers’ Rebellion in 1900, the relocation and conservation attempts in 1954, the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, and the reconstruction in 1978. In 1984, the seminary became a historic site under the protection of the Beijing Municipal Government, and it was elevated in 2006 to a key historic site under the protection of the national government. But unfortunately, Pereira’s tombstone went missing. In 2005, Song Jian, ex-Minister of the National Science and Technology Commission, asked in person for the whereabouts of Pereira’s tombstone. The re-inscription and restoration of Father Pereira’s tombstone are now under deliberation and planning.