Johann Schreck Terrentius, SJ. His European Network and the Origins of the Jesuit Library in Peking

Publication type: 
Noël Golvers

Golvers, N. (2020) Johann Schreck Terrentius, SJ. His European Network and the Origins of the Jesuit Library in Peking. Brepols Publishers


The scholarly network and background of a Jesuit polymath, Johann Terrentius (1576-1630), in Europe (1600-1618) and his work as a China missionary (1619-1630), in alchemy, medicine, mathematics, botany, etc.; founder of Jesuit libraries in China and Jesuit scholarship, aiming at the transmission of knowledge to China.
A thorough analysis of the sinuous ‘peregrinatio academica’ of Johann Terrentius Schreck (1576-1630) between 1600-1618 through (South-, Central- and NW-) European universities, academies and courts (at Freiburg /Br.; Paris; Rome; Basel; Padua; Strasbourg, Prague, Kassel, etc.) and his rich correspondence displays a widespread network of contacts, covering a broad range of domains, from medicine to alchemy, pharmacy, botany, and through engineering to (pure and applied) mathematics, and calendar making. In all these domains of the contemporary ‘Republic of Letters’, this former student of François Viète (Paris), Galileo (Padua) and ex-Lincean, adept of Copernicus and Paracelsus showed himself to be a passionate scholar with multi-faceted and versatile talents. After 1611, with this very rich experience he entered the Society of Jesus, and shortly afterward he was appointed as companion of Nicolas Trigault, who was touring through Europe (1615-1618) as procurator on behalf of the fledgling Jesuit Mission in China, seeking funds, men, books and scientific instruments. This second phase of intensive travelling through European centers of scholarship, patronage, and printing (including Rome; Venice; Basel; Frankfurt; Cologne, Antwerp, etc.) resulted in an enormous collection of books and instruments, which were dispatched to Lisbon from various points in 1617/1618. Shipped to China, these materials arrived in Macau in 1619, and in Peking in 1625, becoming the core of the Jesuit libraries, mainly in Peking, and the basis for the scholarly activities of the Jesuits over the following decades in the domains of mathematics, calendar making, medicine, etc.

Year of publication : 
Brepols Publishers
Reference number: 
ISBN 978-2-503-58143-9