In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section China and Europe, 1550-1800

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works and Bibliographies
  • Chinese
  • Science and Technology
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Cultural Transmission to Europe

Renaissance and Reformation China and Europe, 1550-1800
Nicolas Standaert, Ad Dudink
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 April 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 October 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0133


The contacts between China and Europe in the period 1550–1800 (which corresponds to the late Ming and the early and mid-Qing dynasties) include a large variety of encounters but primarily consist of the encounter of European Christianity with China. This bibliography, following the General Overviews and Reference Works and Bibliographies sections, focuses on the main actors (Europeans and Chinese), the major fields of encounter in China (Philosophy and Theology, Science and Technology, Arts and Crafts), and the cultural transmission to Europe. To consult primary sources one needs to master Classical Chinese and by preference several languages among Italian, Portuguese, Latin, and Spanish. For the early 18th century, French and Manchu are needed (and sometimes German); though most of the secondary sources mentioned in this article are in English, the majority of the secondary sources are actually in languages other than English, for example, (modern) Chinese, German, French, and Italian, and have not been translated. For these important secondary sources, especially Chinese sources, see Reference Works and Bibliographies.

General Overviews

Sino-European contacts can be divided between missionary contacts, on the one hand, and diplomatic and commercial contacts, on the other, both discussed in Wills 2011 and Fu 1966. These contacts resulted in the circulation of people and ideas from Europe to China and from China to Europe (Mungello 2012). But the most important contacts took place between European missionaries who settled in China and the local Christian communities they interacted with. For this reason, the Sino-European interaction is to a large extent part of the history of Christianity in China (Latourette 1966, Charbonnier 2007, Moffett 2005).

  • Charbonnier, Jean. Christians in China: A.D. 600 to 2000. San Francisco: Ignatius, 2007.

    A general historical overview of Christianity (mainly Catholicism) in China that takes the history of the Christians (not only the missionaries) at its main focus. It is a translated, updated, and expanded version of the French original Histoire des Chrétiens de Chine (Paris: Desclée, 1992). There is also a Chinese translation published in 1998.

  • Fu, Lo-shu. A Documentary Chronicle of Sino-Western Relations (1644–1820). 2 vols. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1966.

    Arranged in chronological order, this work presents an annotated English translation of official and (semi)private Chinese sources concerning Sino-Western relations. It includes foreign visits to China and Sino-Russian diplomatic relations. It gives the reader a firsthand impression of Chinese primary sources in this field.

  • Latourette, Kenneth Scott. A History of Christian Missions in China. Taipei: Ch’eng-wen, 1966.

    Though this is a relatively early publication (first printed in 1929), it is still one of the best overviews of the history of Christianity in China until the early 20th century.

  • Moffett, Samuel Hugh. A History of Christianity in Asia. Vol. 2, 1500 to 1900. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2005.

    This is a comprehensive account of Christianity in Asia that puts Christianity in China in the wider context of Christianity in East Asia, particularly Korea and Japan. See, for example, chapter 5, “Catholicism in China up to ca. 1796”; chapter 13, “Protestantism in China, 1807–1860”; and chapter 22, “China, 1860–1900,” mainly concerning Protestantism.

  • Mungello, David. The Great Encounter of China and the West, 1500–1800. Lanham, UK: Rowman and Littlefield, 2012.

    Gives an overview of the Chinese acceptance and rejection of Western culture and Christianity and of the European acceptance and rejection of Chinese culture and Confucianism. The 2012 edition is an updated version of earlier editions (1999, 2005, 2009).

  • Wills, John E., ed. China and Maritime Europe, 1500–1800: Trade, Settlement, Diplomacy, and Missions. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

    Contains four chapters (by John L. Cranmer-Byng, Willard J. Peterson, John E. Wills, and John W. Witek) presenting various aspects of the introduction and expansion of Christianity in China and of China’s trade and diplomacy with maritime Europe in late Ming and early Qing.

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