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Xu Guangqi 徐光啟 (1562-1633)
Alternative Names:Paul Hiu, zi Zixian 子先 ; hao Xuanhu 玄扈 ; Paul Hsü Kuang-ch'i ; Siu Kouang-K'i
Religious Affiliation:Roman Catholic


Paul Xu Guangqi 徐光啟
Born: Shanghai, April 24, 1562
Died: Beijing, November 8, 1633

Sources, References, Links:
Hummel, A., Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, pp. 316-319.
Goodrich, L. C., Dictionary of Ming Biography
Collani, Claudia von, Xu Guangqi at Biographisch-Bibliographischen Kirchenlexikon.
Brief biography at Yutopian
Information on Xu’s military contributions during the late Ming dynasty may be found on a site devoted to the introduction of Western cannon: Sun Yuanhua yu Mingmo chuan Hua de Xiyang huopao 孫元化與明末傳華的西洋火炮

Chronology:
1581 Received xiucai 秀才 degree.
1596 Shaozhou ; (Guangdong 廣東) meets Lazzaro Cattaneo (Guo Jujing, 1560-1640) ; first contact with Christianity
1597 Beijing: Shuntian Provincial examination: graduates juren 舉人, with distinction
1600 Through Nanjing en route to Beijing metropolitan examinations, meets Matteo Ricci (Li Madou 利瑪竇,1552-1610)
1603 Nanjing. Celebrations for seventieth birthday of Xu's father Xu Sicheng (1534-1607)
1603 Nanjing. Visit to Jesuit residence to see Ricci (who had departed for Beijing). Meets Fr. João de Rocha (Luo Huaizhong 32645;25079;20013;, 1565-1623) and is baptized Paul (Baolu 20445;31103;)
1604 Receives Presented Scholar jinshi 36914;22763; degree. Bachelor in the Hanlin Academy 32752;26519;38498;.
1604-1607 Beijing. Xu and Li Zhizao 26446;20043;34299; receive instruction from Ricci on various subjects, including the study and translation into Chinese of works on mathematics, hydraulics, astronomy, and geography. Xu becomes the first known Chinese to translate European books into the Chinese language. Among the most influential was the translation of Euclid's Elements, published under the title Jihe yuanben 24190;20309;21407;26412; (6 21367;) as dictated by Ricci. Xu and Ricci concluded their revisions and published the work in final form in 1611.
1606-1608. Work on trigonometry by Xu as dictated by Ricci was written entitled Celiang fayi 28204;37327;27861;32681; (1 21367;). During this period Xu also wrote a work entitled Celiang yitong 28204;37327;30064;21516; (1 21367;) which compares the Western method of angular measurement to the ancient Chinese work Jiuzhang 20061;31456; (Jiuzhang suanshu 20061;31456;31639;34899;). The work Gou gu yi 21246;32929;32681; (121367;), a treatise on right-angle triangles is also attributed to Xu. All four of these works were included in the collection Haishan xian'guan congshu 28023;23665;20185;39208;21474;26360; compiled by Tan Ying 35674;29801; from the library of the merchant Pan Zhencheng 28504;25391;25215; (1714-1788)
1606. Xu's father invited to Beijing, where he is baptized as Leon (Liang 33391;). Xu Guangqi's son Xu Ji 24464;39525; was also baptized as Jacques (Yagebo 38597;21508;20271;).
1607. Xu is appointed a corrector in the Hanlin Academy. Soon afterward, Xu's Father dies. Xu resigns and returns home to observe mourning period. Through Nanjing on the way to Shanghai Xu he invites Lazzaro Cattaneo to Shanghai. Cattaneo does not arrrive until the following year (1608). With Xu's assistance Cattaneo baptizes a number of Chinese converts.
1608-1609. Xu constructs a church on the west side of his residence to hold increasingly large gatherings of the faithful. During the mourning period he twice travelled to Macao (Aomen 28595;38272;) to visit St. Paul's and other churches in the colony.
1610. Mourning period ends. Xu returns to Beijing, and learns that Ricci has died and is interred in the Zhalan 26613;27396; cemetery donated by the Wanli Emperor. Xu reinstated as Hanlin Academy corrector.
1610. December 15. At the time of his reinstatement as a Hanlin academician, the Imperial Board of Astronomy miscalculated a solar eclipse that the Jesuit Diego de Pantoja (Pang Diwo 40848;36842;25105;, 1571-1618) had correctly anticipated. The initial recommendation was for Xu, Pantoja, Li Zhizao, and Sabatino de Ursis (Xiong Sanba 29066;19977;25300;, 1575-1620) be commissioned to translate Western calendrical material for the use of Chinese astronomers. The project foundered and was discontinued in 1611.
1612. Xu promoted to the post of reviser in the Historiographical Board. Xu wrote from de Ursis' dictation the Taixi shuifa 27888;35199;27700;27861; (6 21367;), a treatise on Western hydraulics, later included in Xu's agricultural work, the Nongzheng quanshu 36786;25919;20840;26360;, itself included in the Siku quanshu 22235;24235;20840;26360;.
1613. Xu and the Jesuits constructed a number of astronomical instruments for improved calculations, but illness forced Xu to resign and recuperate in Tianjin. Xu maintained an interest in agricultural technology and during his recovery in Tianjin cultivated a model farm. During this time he also wrote an anti-Buddhist treatise, the Pi Shishi zhuwang 38370;37323;27663;35576;22916;, or Pi wang 38370;22916; (1 21367;); the Zouzi oubian 35535;35566;20598;32232; (1 21367;); and a preface to the Tongwen suanzhi 21516;25991;31639;25351;.
1616 Xu was recalled and reinstated to his former post as a reviser in the Historiographical Bureau. His appointment coincided with the persecution of Christians begun as a consequence of the 1616 memorial submitted to the throne by Shen Que 27784;. A number of Christians, including the Jesuit Alfonso Vagnone, were arrested in Nanjing. Xu presented a memorial, the Bianxue shugao 36783;23416;30095;31295; in response to Shen Que's charges, in which he declared the missionaries to be sheng xian zhi tu 32854;36066;20043;24466; (disciples of the sages). Missionaries and Chinese Christians received sanctuary at Xu's estate, as well as with the families of Li Zhizao and Yang Tingyun.
1617 Xu promoted to Assistant Secretary of the Supervisoriate of Imperial Instruction. Three months later illness again fored him to retire to his Tianjin farm.
1618 Xu recalled to Beijing as Supervisor of Instruction and concurrently a censor. Fushun taken by Manchu troops.
1619 August 1, Xu petitioned the Emperor to appoint him as a special envoy to the Korean government as an advisor to the Korean military resisting the Manchus. The petition was denied.
1619 November 28, Xu assigned to the training of recruits at Dongzhou, east of Beijing. Funding was historically problematic for military exercises, thus Xu was forced to ask friends to contribute to the defense fund. Four Western-style cannon were ordered delivered from Macao to Beijing, but the cannon were diverted to Guangxin (Jiangxi Province).
1620. Zhu Youjiao 26417;30001;26657; becomes Tianqi 22825;21855; Emperor. Xu ordered to reduce troops to 4,600 men. Military preparations incomplete.
1621. Retired to Tianjin due to illness. Shenyang and Liaoyang fall to Manchu troops.
1621 July 1, Xu recalled to Beijing. New petition that Xu to be sent to Korea to more effectively combat Manchu banner forces from the northeast. Petition denied by president of the Board of War, Cui Jingrong 23828;26223;27054; (Ziqiang 33258;24375;, jinshi 1583, d. 1631). Xu once again resigns.
1622 Xu returns to Shanghai. Collaborates with Jesuit Francesco Sambiasi (Bi Fangji 30050;26041;28639;, 1582-1649) in writing a treatise on the soul entitled Ling yan li shuo 38728;35328;34849;21242; (2 21367;), printed in 1624. Shen Que made Grand Secretary. Persecution of Christians renewed. The Manchu invasion of Korea and North China made all foreigners suspect, thus missionaries were forced into hiding.
1623 Xu offered post of Vice President of the Board of Ceremonies. He declines, remaining in retirement.
1628 After Zhu Yuqian accession, Xu recalled and made court diarist.
1629 Xu promoted to senior Vice President of the Board of Ceremonies. The Board of Ceremonies, dependent on accurate astronomical calculations, publicized the results of a competitive examination concerning the prediction of a solar eclipse that took place on June 21, 1629. Three schools of astronomy were represented: the Chinese (Datong 22823;32113;), the Islamic, and the European. Xu's calculations based on the European method proved to be correct. Demand rose for calendrical reform, and Xu was recommended by the Board of Ceremonies to lead the newly established Calendrical Bureau (Li ju 26310;23616;) located at Shoushan 39318;21892; Academy east of the Catholic church inside the Xuanwu Men 23459;27494;38272; gate in Beijing. Li Zhizao and the Jesuits Niccolo Longobardo and Johann Terrenz Schreck (Deng Yuhan 37159;29577;20989;, 1576-1630) served as assistants. After Zunhua in Hebei Province was captured by the Manchus Xu was ordered to begin manufacture of firearms and cannon in order to defend the capital against attack.
1630. Terrenz Schreck dies, May 13, 1630. Xu recommends Johann Adam Schall von Bell and Giacomo Rho as assistant to the Calendrical Bureau while he attends to armament manufacture.
1630 July, Xu is made President of the Board of Ceremonies. December 4, Li Zhizao dies. (Only Xu remains of the triumvirate of Christianity in China (Shengjiao san zhushi 32854;25945;19977;26609;30707;) known as the Three Pillars of the Chinese Church). Xu recommends that Longobardo and Sambiasi be Imperially commissioned to journey to Macao and purchase ten cannon from Portuguese merchants and hire cannoneers to operate them. Cannon were purchased and the gun crew was led on the return journey by Macao resident Gonzalo Teixeira-Correa (Gongsha Dixilao 20844;27801;30340;35199;21214;, d. 1632). João Rodrigues Tçuzzu (Lu Ruohan 38520;33509;28450;, 1561-1633) served as interpreter. The cannon arrived in time to defend Zhozhou (in modern Hebei Province) against the Manchus. A short time afterward, 400 soldiers were recruited from Macao. They travelled overland to the capital, accompanied by five missionaries hoping to preach in the Chinese interior. They were Tranquillo Grassetti (Xie Guilu 35613;36020;31103;, 1588-1647), Pietro Canevari (Nie Shizong 32886;20271;22810;, 1596-1675), Bento de Matos (Lin Cunyuan 26519;26412;31716;, 1600-1651), Michel Trigault (Jin Duanbiao 37329;31471;34920;, 1602-1667), and Etienne Faber (Fang Dewang 26041;24503;26395;, 1597-1657). In late 1630 the Manchu campaign halted temporarily, and the bannermen returned to Mukden (Shenyang) in Machuria.
1631-1632 Xu presents 1632 Xu made Secretary of the Dong Ge 26481;38307;.
1633 Xu made Secretary of the Wenyuan Ge 25991;28149;38307;.
1633 September 11, Xu taken ill. Memorialized the throne on October 31, 1633 to reward the Jesuits for their assistance to the Calendrical Bureau and for the second time recommended Li Tianjing 26446;22825;32147; (1579-1659) be appointed his successor in the Calendrical Bureau (Li Ju 26310;23616;). Li does not take office until the following year (1634)
1633 November 8. Xu Guangqi dies in Beijing. Posthumously awarded honorary title of Junior Guardian (1643 Grand Guardian) of the Heir Apparent. Canonized as Wending 25991;23450;.
Due to unrest in his home district, Xu Guangqi was not interred in his family cemetery at Xujiahui 24464;23478;21295; (Hsü-chia-hui, or Zikawei) in a suburb of Shanghai until 1644. Xu's third grandson Matteo Xu Erdou 24464;29246;26007; (1609-1643) presented to the throne his grandfathers work on agriculture entitled Nongzheng quanshu 36786;25919;20840;26360; (60 juan), which was compiled between 1625-1628. Xu Guangqi's second grandson Ignace Xu Erjue 24464;29246;29237; (1605-1683) assigned the editorial work of the Nongzheng quanshu to the scholar Chen Zilong 38515;23376;40845; in 1635, but the work was not completed until 1639.