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Ricci, Matteo

1. Dates
Born: Macerata, Italy, 6 Oct 1552 died, Peking (Beijing), 11 May 1610
Dateinfo: 58
2. Father
Occupation: Pharmacist
A pharmacist.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Macerata, Italy
Career: China
Death: Peking, China
4. Education
Schooling: Collegio Romano; D.D.
1561, attended the Jesuit school at Macerata.
1568, was sent to Rome by his father to study law.
1572-7, enrolled at the Collegio Romano. I assume the equivalent of at least B.A.
1579, when ill in Cochin, recalled to Goa, a Portugese colony in India, for a four-year theology course. He got through three and a half before being sent out again. This information puzzles me. Ricci was a Jesuit professed of the fourth vow; as such his intellectual preparation had to have included a doctorate in theology. I am listing it.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
Catholic, joined the Jesuit order in 1571.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics, Astronomy, Geography
7. Means of Support
Primary: Church Life
After joining Jesuit order and studying at the Collegio Romano, he was ordered for missions in the orient.
In 1579, he fell ill in Cochin, India and was recalled to Goa.
1582, he moved from Goa to Macao, and in 1583, entered the Chinese Empire, settling at Ch'ao-ching (Shiuhing), Kwantung province.
After establishing missions in different parts of China, he settled in Peking in 1601, where he remained until his death.
8. Patronage
Types: Gov[?], Crt[?]
1583, he was invited by the Governor of Shiuhing, Wang P'an, to go there, and Wang was responsible for Ricci's being able to stay. A new viceroy was able to have him expelled in 1589.
In Peking he was under the protection of the Emperor, Wan- li.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: None
Part of his dissemination of western science was making instruments. He taught his students to make sundials and a type of astrolabe. Since this does not appear to involve any development of new instruments, I will not list it.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Vincent Cronin, The Wise Man from the West (Glasgow, 1986).
  2. [BV3427.R4 C9] Full of description and anecdote.
  3. Henri Bernard, Matteo Ricci's Scientific Contribution to China, E.C. Werner, trans. (Peiping: Henri Vetch, 1935). [Q143.R5 B52] Joseph Needham, Science and Civilization in China, passim. [Biol. DS721.N37] There were some sources in Chinese in the card catalogue under Ricci.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Étienne Ducornet, Matteo Ricci, le lettre de'Occident, (Paris, 1992).
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

©1995 Al Van Helden
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