15 July 2005
JUAN GONZALES DE MENDOZA (1545-1618)
Histoire du Grand Royaume de la Chine, translated into French by Luc de la Porte. Paris: Jeremie Perier, 1588. 2 parts in one volume, 8° (173 x 97mm). Woodcut ornaments and initials. With final errata leaf. Red morocco gilt by Riviere. Provenance: purchased from Maggs, London, June 1938.
FIRST EDITION IN FRENCH. Mendoza and Francesco de Ortega led a mission to China in 1580 on behalf of Phillip II of Spain. The embassy arrived at Vera Cruz in Mexico in June 1581 but, because of political instability in the Philippines, travelled no further, and Mendoza himself returned to Spain in 1583. When he proceeded to Rome Gregory XIII commissioned him to write 'a history of things that are known about the kingdom of China'. Written in Spanish, his treatise was first published in Rome in 1585, and soon became widely translated and reprinted; three missionary voyages from 1577, 1579 and 1581 form the second part, the third voyage, by Martin Ignacio, being particularly important for information on Japan and the New World. Cordier Sinica 12; Cordier Japonica 88; Howgego M109; Lust 24 (variant collation); 'the first serious survey of China'; Sabin 47829 cites the 1589 Paris edition.
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