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Chapter 5

HIST 218 - Chapter Five: East Asian and Modern Europe, First Encounters

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McGill University
HIST 218
Gavin Walker

Chapter Five – East Asia and Modern Europe: First Encounters − early contact between post-Renaissance Europe and East Asia can be conceived as an overture setting the tone for future relations − general failure of early intermediaries to build viable bridges of mutual understanding made it all the harder to do so later when East Asia had to deal with a Europe transformed by French and Industrial Revolutions Portuguese in East Asia − pioneers in European expansion − reached Indian in 1498 − China in 1514 − Japan in 1543 − wrestled control of seas from Arab rivals − established HQ in 1510 at Goa, small island off the cost of west India − captured in 1511 Malacca, centre for spice trade located in straits between Malay Peninsula from Sumatra − expansion spurred by desire to break Arab spice monopoly − trade difficult due to absence of European commodities that could be marketed in Asia − Portuguese originally financed themselves with mixture of trade and piracy − made profit transporting goods from one Asian country to another − found ease of access to Goa and Malacaa; not as easy to enter China − did not seek official permission to establish initial fort − behaved unruly − first Portuguese envoy to China not only failed to obtain commercial concessions, he ended his life in a Cantonese prison − however, Portuguese would not leave, and naval superiority made it impossible for them to be driven out by the Chinese − eventually arranged so that they would operate from Macao − Macao, however, remained officially Chinese until ceded to Portugal in 1887 Jesuits in Japan − missionary impulse provided strong incentive and religious sanction for European expansion − missionary, not trader, served as prime intermediary between East Asia and the West from sixteenth to twentieth century − founded in 1540, Jesuits flourished under Catholic Counter- Reformation; regarded as 'the cavalry of the church' − known for stress on martial discipline, intensive religious training, intellectual vigour, and depth of learning − the ideal Jesuit was as learned as he was disciplined and devout − 1549, St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit, lands on Kyushu − was well-received, and first impressions on both sides were favourable − “the Jesuit combination of martial pride, stern self-discipline, and religious piety fitted well with the ethos of sixteenth-century Japan” − initially Christianity seemed like just another type of Buddhism − “In Japan, the Europeans found a society that resembled their own far more than did any other outside Europe.... Only the Chinese were to receive similar praise—and, indeed, to be regarded as 'white'” − Jesuits tried to win acceptance by adapting to local customs, so long as they did not run counter to their own creed − Jesuit strategy: first convert rulers, then allow faith to seep down to the populace at large − “the purpose of their labours was not to Europeanize Japan or China, but to save souls” − was considerably successful in Kyushu, converting important local lords − Jesuits became involved in trade and even politics − Nobunaga became friend of Jesuits; also coincided with his hostility to Buddhism and desire to maintain Portuguese commerce − Hideyoshi was at first similarly friendly − political and economic success of Jesuits soon became a threatening power however − Hideyoshi ordered expulsion of monks in 1587, though did not enforce it. Yet. − meanwhile, there was a surge of popularity for things Western Impact of Other Europeans − despite 1587 order, Europeans continued to enter Japan − complicated when Portuguese followed by other Europeans − Spanish entered, following conquest of Philippines, completed in 1571 − for Japanese, this represented new source of trade, but they were also alerted to the imperialist ambitions of Europe; saw connections between Christianity and colonialism − when Dutch and English arrived in early 1600s, they also fanned the suspicions against their Catholic rivals − while Portuguese maintained themselves by inter-Asia trade, Spanish commanded precious metals, such as silver − Spanish also patronized Franciscan monks rather than Jesuits − the former were less discreet than Jesuits in their work; worked to convert those at the very bottom of society The 'Closing' of Japan − 1597, Hideyoshi crucified six Franciscans, three Jesuits, and eighteen Japanese converts after pilot of Spanish ship repeatedly boasted about power and ambition of his King − Tokugawa Ieyasu was also at first friendly, but soon turned against them − 1606, Christianity declared illegal; 1614 saw beginning of serious campaign to expel missionaries − by 1614 there were 300 000 converts in Japan; destruction of Christianity was thus long and painful − there were more than 3 000 recognized as martyrs by the Vatican, of whom fewer than seventy were European − persuasion was also used − Japanese saw Christianity as potentially subversive, not just of political order, but of basic social structure, for it challenged accepted values and demanded radical reappraisal of long-revered traditions − associated with European expansionism and potential disruption at home; doubly dangerous − “the motivation for the government's suppression of Christianity was secular, not religious” − Spaniards expelled in 1624, one year after English left voluntarily − 1630, Japanese forbidden to go overseas, to return from there, or to build ocean-faring ships − Portuguese expelled after 1638 (Shimabara Rebellion) − when Portuguese sent embassy in 1640, its members were executed − only Dutch were allowed to remain; kept away other Europeans until English and Russian challenges to Dutch naval supremacy in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century − in 1641, Dutch moved to artificial island of Deshima in Nagasaki Harbour; virtually confined as in a prison − “the annual Dutch vessel to Deshima was all that remained of Japan's contact with Europe” − should be noted that this closing was only against the West; trade and diplomatic relations continued with Korea, Ryukyu Islands, and China Jesuits in Vietnam − as elsewhere, first Europeans were Portuguese adventurers and traders − established trading centre in 1525; attracted community of Japanese and Chinese merchants − the centre, at Hoi An, developed into thriving international port − though first missionaries were Dominicans, lasting impact made by Jesuit Alexander de Rhodes, who developed a phonetic script for Vietnamese − Jesuit activities in China, Japan, and Vietnam closely linked − Rhodes was originally headed for Japan, but transferred to Vietnam − arrived in Vietnam in 1624; church already existed for nine years − like confreres in Japan, Rhodes was enthusiastic about the people − control over Vietnam at this time divided between Trinh lords in north and Nguyen in the south (though modern central Vietnam) − Jesuits worked hard at top-down strategy; however, government policy in north and south vacillated from tolerance (motivated by trade and military tech) to supp
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