Matteo Ricci and the Ming Dynasty

16 Apr, 2015 950 History of Asia

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the life of Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit priest who in the 16th century led a Christian mission to China. An accomplished scholar, Ricci travelled extensively and came into contact with senior officials of the Ming Dynasty administration. His story is one of the most important encounters between Renaissance Europe and a China which was still virtually closed to outsiders.

Listen on BBC Sounds website


  • Mary Laven No other episodes
    Reader in Early Modern History at the University of Cambridge
  • Craig Clunas 5 episodes
    Professor of the History of Art at the University of Oxford
  • Anne Gerritsen 2 episodes
    Reader in History at the University of Warwick

Reading list

  • Journey to the East: The Jesuit Mission to China, 1579-1724
    Liam Matthew Brockey (Harvard University Press, 2007) Google Books →
  • South China in the Sixteenth Century
    C. R. Boxer (ed.) (Orchid Press, 2006) Google Books →
  • Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World
    Timothy Brook (Profile Books, 2008) Google Books →
  • Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China
    Timothy Brook (University of California Press, 1998) Google Books →
  • Empire of Great Brightness: Visual and Material Cultures of Ming China 1368-1644
    Craig Clunas (Reaktion Books, 2007) Google Books →
  • Encounters: The Meeting of Asia and Europe, 1500-1800
    Amin Jaffer and Anna Jackson (eds) (V&A Publications, 2004) Google Books →
  • Mission to China: Matteo Ricci and the Jesuit Encounter with the East
    Mary Laven (Faber & Faber, 2011) Google Books →
  • The First Jesuits
    John W. O'Malley (Harvard University Press, 1995) Google Books →
  • A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552-1610
    R. Po-chia Hsia (Oxford University Press, 2010) Google Books →
  • The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci
    Jonathan D. Spence (Faber & Faber, 1985) Google Books →
  • China and Maritime Europe, 1500-1800: Trade, Settlement, Diplomacy, and Missions
    John E. Wills Jr (ed.) (Cambridge University Press, 2010) Google Books →

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Programme ID: b05qjq67

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Auto-category: 951 (China)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In 1582, the Jesuit priest, Matteo Ricci, disembarked at the port of Macau with a mission to convert the people of China to Christianity.