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Paolo Costantino Pissavino *
(*) Autore principale:
Paolo Costantino Pissavino |


The present study aims at analyzing the relationship between the image of the Chinese Empire in the writings of travellers and Jesuits and the main themes (Reason of State, Utopianism, Mixed Constitution) of the Italian political thought during the XVIth and XVIIth centuries. The writings of travellers and Jesuits presented a complex view of the Empire, which impacts in various ways the spread of the Chinese myth in the political treatises of the Counter-Reformation era. The complexity is evident in the description the relations provide of sovereignty and the behaviour of the emperor. From the very beginning of Della entrata della Compagnia di Giesù e Christianità nella Cina is presented a complex image of the Chinese government: along with the absolutist delineation of the imperial power, there are conflicting images that, regarding either a distant past or current government practice, recognized other forms: a feudal style of monarchy, a sort of mixed constitution, or a form of dispotic govetrnment. Matteo Ricci and other Jesuits, as Martino Martini and Athanasius Kircher, presented the Mandarins as a slort of Kings-Philosophers of Plato’s Republic. Following the works composed by Jesuits, some authors pf Reason of State and utopist (Giovanni Botero and Ludovico Zuccolo) pointed out that the perfec tion of the Chinese political and social institutions could really preserve the Empire from corruption, an Empire that had to be considered a paradigm of a well ordered state, as another Jesuit, Daniello Bartoli, wrote in his book on China.

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