Edition mentioned in Ternaux (Bibliothèque asiatique, p. 188, 1738), Carayon (p. 134, 961), Cordier (1619) and De Baecker (VI, 1718); it comprises a superb copper-engraved folding map that illustrating the lands of the kingdom of Tonkin and of Cochinchina joining Cambodia.
This work, a report addressed to the Pope, Alexandre de Rhodes, recounts his adventures when he arrived in Tonkin and the beginnings of the people’s evangelization.
The author deals with the political and military power of the Kingdom of Tonkin, with the wealth and the power of the King, with the country’s farming products, in particular fruits and animals, or also with the superstitions of the people.
Alexandre de Rhodes joins the Jesuits in 1612 and wishes to be a missionary in Asia. From a Jewish family of Aragon, refugee in Avignon, he is a subject to the Pope and not the King. Alexandre de Rhodes embarks, in 1624, to Faïfo, one of the main ports and economical center of Cochinchina.
Good at languages, he learns Vietnamese really fast and starts preaching in this language, until he is expelled in 1645. During his stay, he sets up the phonetic transcription of Vietnamese into Latin characters, which will allow a quick spread of the religion as well as the democratization of knowledge. Between 1640 and 1645, he will undertake 4 travels to Cochinchina as Father Superior of the missions.
Back in Rome, convinced that Christianity won’t be able to develop in Asia unless it relies on a native clergy, he will plead in front of the Pope the cause of the missions in Asia. The Company of the Blessed Sacrament, supported by Anne of Austria, Saint Vincent de Paul and Bossuet, gives the funds needed for the Fraternity’s project.
In the middle of this 17th century, the Portuguese domination was declining in Asia, attacked by the Dutch and English trade companies. Alexandre de Rhodes will strike the coup de grâce to the Portuguese spiritual domination in South-East Asia.
The volume bears, beautifully handwritten on its title leaf, the ex libris of the Archbishop Augustini Franciotti.
The true governors of the landlocked Papal States in France were the vice-legates. Augustini Franciotti was vice-legate in Avignon from 1654 to 1655.
A precious wide-margined copy, preserved in its pure contemporary ivory vellum binding.