Revisiting the calendar case (1640-1669): science, religion and politics in early Qing Beijing

6dc9bfb2193f4ba7bdf3773f352bbce2Catherine Jami, Revisiting the calendar case (1640-1669): science, religion and politics in early Qing Beijing, The Korean Journal of the History of Science, August 2015, volume 37, 2, p. 459-478. http://www.khss.or.kr/editorial

The Calendar Case (liyu 曆 獄) is well known to historians of Chinese astronomy and to historians of the Jesuit mission to China; during the last sixty years, it has attracted increasing attention from both groups. The Jesuit missionary Johann Adam Schall von Bell (1592-1666) was in charge of the affairs of the Astronomical Bureau (Qintianjian 欽天監) from 1644, when Beijing fell to the Manchus. In 1664, under the rule of the four regents who governed in the name of the young Kangxi emperor (b. 1654, r. 1662-1722), Schall was impeached and tried, following accusations made by Yang Guangxian 楊光先 (1597-1669), a literatus who held no official position. Four years later, the emperor had the verdict reversed and appointed another Jesuit, Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-1688), as official astronomer. The present article provides a review of the secondary literature on this affair, showing how the narratives and analyses given by different authors reflect not only their personal research agendas, but also the wider evolution of historiography in both fields, from missiology to a China-centred history of Christianity in China, and from positivism to multifaceted narratives of controversies in the history of science.

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