Martino Martini

Martino Martini

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Martino Martini

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Martino Martini () (20 September 1614 – 6 June 1661) was an Italian Jesuit missionary, cartographer and historian, mainly working on ancient Imperial China.

Early years

Martini was born in Trento, in the Bishopric of Trent. After finishing high school studies in Trent in 1631, he entered the Austrian province of the Society of Jesus, from where he was sent to study classical letters and philosophy at the Roman College, Rome (1634–37). However his interest was more in astronomy and mathematics which he studied under Athanasius Kircher. His request to be sent as a missionary to China had already been granted by Mutius Vitelleschi, the then Superior General of the Jesuits. He did his theological studies in Portugal (1637–39)—already on his way to China—where he was ordained priest (1639, in Lisbon).

In the Chinese Empire

He set out for China in 1640, and arrived in Macau in 1642 where he studied Chinese for some time. In 1643 he crossed the border and settled in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, from where he did much traveling in view of gathering scientific information, especially on the geography of the Chinese empire: he visited several provinces, as well as Peking and the Great Wall. He made great use of his talents as missionary, scholar, writer and superior.

Soon after Martini's arrival to China, the Ming capital Beijing fell to Li Zicheng's rebels (April, 1644) and then to the Manchus, and the last "real" Ming...
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