De Christianis apvd Iaponios trivmphis sive de gravissima ibidem contra Christi fidem persecvtione exorta anno MDCXII vsq. ad annvm MDCXX.

TRIGAULT Nicolas (1623.)

£16000.00  [First Edition]

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First edition. Engraved title depicting St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius Loyola with angels above. inscribed in top margin: "Assistentia Germaniae Soctis. Jess. [German Assistancy of the Society of Jesuits]", 17 full-page engravings (one with revised engraving mounted over the original, as usual). Small 4to. Contemporary limp vellum. one leaf with lower blank corner torn away (not affecting the text), occasional light foxing and browning, but overall still a close to very good copy. [16], 518pp. Munich, Rader & Raphael Sadeler,

Rare first edition of this famous illustrated account of the martyrdom of Christians in Japan from 1612 to 1620.

Nicolas Trigault (1577-1628) who was born in Douai in the Spanish Netherlands, joined the Jesuit order in 1594. He left for China in 1610 and reached Nanjing in the following year. He was appointed the China Mission’s procurator and returned to Rome in 1614 in order to raise money and publicise the mission effort. Having just published his upbeat ‘De Christiana Expeditione apud Sinas’ in Augsburg (1615) he set upon the next work relating the terrible events in Japan. He wrote the first four parts of this book while touring Europe to raise money. They were largely based on reports and letters from Japan and material collected by the Portuguese Jesuit Louis Pineiro (?-1620) who was himself lobbying King Philip III on behalf of the Jesuits in Japan. The book was dedicated to the Emperor Ferdinand II and Maximilian I (1573-1651), Duke of Bavaria and Palatinate. But Trigault added material even after his return to Asia in 1618 describing the events from 1617 to 1620.

The detailed illustrations by the printer Raphael Sadeler portray the sufferings with a certain amount of authenticity. These renditions were meant to encourage the readers to either join the mission or at least make a donation. The engraved title shows St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius Loyola with angels flanking a central image of a radiant tree superimposed with the Calvary Cross. Miraculous visions of firewood with a cross had been reported in Nagasaki in 1598 and 1611 and they were later interpreted as an omen of how the Christians would die in Japan. At the end of the book all martyrs are listed by name. It includes a large number of Portuguese missionaries. 

This book dramatically changed attitudes in Europe towards Japan. While Francis Xavier had praised the Japanese as "The best people we have discovered", the present book has a rather pessimistic outlook for a successful mission in Japan. It explains that all of the residences had been forced to close and that any missionary had to be prepared to die if he were to enter the country. 

The German Assistancy referred to in the inscription on the title was a position held by a Jesuit who resided at the Jesuit Curia in Rome and advised the Jesuit General Superior on affairs involving German language skills. 

Cordier BJ 295; Streit V, 1305; De Backer & Sommervogel, VIII, 242.8.

Stock Code: 252242

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