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View full screen - View 1 of Lot 94. China—Carlo Ambrogio Mezzabarba | Manuscript account of his visit to China. 1720-21. Heber-Phillipps provenance.

China—Carlo Ambrogio Mezzabarba | Manuscript account of his visit to China. 1720-21. Heber-Phillipps provenance

Lot Closed

May 24, 02:34 PM GMT


5,000 - 7,000 GBP

Lot Details


China—Carlo Ambrogio Mezzabarba, Patriarch of Alexandria, Papal Legate

Remarkable manuscript account of his visit to China entitled 'Compendium Eorum Que Evenerunt In Sinis Et D.D. Carolo Ambrosio Mediobarbe, Patriarche Alexandrino...Cum Potestate Legati a Latere', APPARENTLY UNPUBLISHED 

A DAY-BY-DAY ACCOUNT OF A SENIOR JESUIT IN CHINA, in Latin, in a single hand, on Chinese paper

...Quae scripta sunt omnia ita a veritate, sinceritate, et simplicitate scripta sunt ut quanta humana fragilitas patit et eo modo, quo hac perceperant, tartari possent coram Deo, qui iudicaturus est Vivos et Mortuos...

c.88 pages, 4to, stitched, loose in old wrappers, 26 September 1720 to 23 March 1721, edges trimmed; with a loose 4-page manuscript fragment apparently in the same hand, in Italian


Patriarch Mezzabarba (c.1685-1741) was sent by Pope Clement XI to China in 1720 in order to secure obedience to the papal decrees on the Chinese Rites issue, ten years after the death of his predecessor Maillard de Tournon. He arrived in Macao in September 1720, and some months later succeeded in obtaining an audience of the Emperor Kangxi, who was hostile to Rome following the earlier attempts of de Tournon to enforce the Pope's wishes concerning the Chinese Rites. Mezzabarba presented a copy of the Bull 'Ex Illa Die' to the Emperor, who announced his intention of proscribing the Christian religion despite the modifications (the so-called "eight permissions") which Mezzabarba was empowered to make regarding the observance of certain Chinese ceremonies. The Patriarch left Canton in March 1721.

The present manuscript, which appears to be unpublished, begins with the Patriarch's arrival in Macao, and describes his mission with particular emphasis on the role played by the Jesuits. It gives a full account of the Patriarch's discussions with the Emperor, his interpreter being the Jesuit Father Joseph Pereira. An account of Mezzabarba's mission from a different point of view - critical of the Beijing Jesuits' actions - is given by his confessor Father Viani, published in Paris in 1739.


Richard Heber, sale part XI, Evans, 10 February 1836, lot 262, £1-19s, to Payne; Sir Thomas Phillipps (Phillipps MS 8104); Philip Robinson; sale of his Chinese library, Sotheby's, London, 22 November 1988, lot 101