The Last Embassy: The Dutch Mission of 1795 and the Forgotten History of Western Encounters with China

The Last Embassy: The Dutch Mission of 1795 and the Forgotten History of Western Encounters with China

by Tonio Andrade
The Last Embassy: The Dutch Mission of 1795 and the Forgotten History of Western Encounters with China

The Last Embassy: The Dutch Mission of 1795 and the Forgotten History of Western Encounters with China

by Tonio Andrade


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From the acclaimed author of The Gunpowder Age, a book that casts new light on the history of China and the West at the turn of the nineteenth century

George Macartney's disastrous 1793 mission to China plays a central role in the prevailing narrative of modern Sino-European relations. Summarily dismissed by the Qing court, Macartney failed in nearly all of his objectives, perhaps setting the stage for the Opium Wars of the nineteenth century and the mistrust that still marks the relationship today. But not all European encounters with China were disastrous. The Last Embassy tells the story of the Dutch mission of 1795, bringing to light a dramatic but little-known episode that transforms our understanding of the history of China and the West.

Drawing on a wealth of archival material, Tonio Andrade paints a panoramic and multifaceted portrait of an age marked by intrigues and war. China was on the brink of rebellion. In Europe, French armies were invading Holland. Enduring a harrowing voyage, the Dutch mission was to be the last European diplomatic delegation ever received in the traditional Chinese court. Andrade shows how, in contrast to the British emissaries, the Dutch were men with deep knowledge of Asia who respected regional diplomatic norms and were committed to understanding China on its own terms.

Beautifully illustrated with sketches and paintings by Chinese and European artists, The Last Embassy suggests that the Qing court, often mischaracterized as arrogant and narrow-minded, was in fact open, flexible, curious, and cosmopolitan.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691177113
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 06/01/2021
Pages: 424
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Tonio Andrade is professor of Chinese and global history at Emory University. His books include The Gunpowder Age: China, Military Innovation, and the Rise of the West in World History (Princeton), Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China's First Great Victory over the West (Princeton), and How Taiwan Became Chinese: Dutch, Spanish, and Han Colonization in the Seventeenth Century. He lives in Decatur, Georgia.

Table of Contents

List of Maps ix

A Note to the Reader xi

Prologue: A Clash of Cultures? 1

Chapter 1 The Center 16

Chapter 2 The Amateur 22

Chapter 3 Man Proposes, God Disposes 28

Chapter 4 The Delta 34

Chapter 5 Canton 46

Chapter 6 A Dreadful Prospect 61

Chapter 7 The Imperial Way: By Boat through Southern China 74

Chapter 8 A Walk into Winter 93

Chapter 9 Beijing 124

Chapter 10 Ice Games 133

Chapter 11 Favored Guests of the Emperor 147

Chapter 12 A New Year 160

Chapter 13 The Purple Ray Pavilion, A Good Death, A Tour of Temples 172

Chapter 14 Stately Pleasure Gardens: Yuanmingyuan 180

Chapter 15 The Lantern Festival 194

Chapter 16 Goodbye, Beijing 208

Chapter 17 By Land through Beizhili and Shandong 216

Chapter 18 Sailing into Spring: By Canal through the Lower Yangtze 227

Chapter 19 Zhejiang and Jiangxi 246

Chapter 20 An Uncertain Future 267

Conclusions: A Contested Embassy and the History of Sino-Western Relations 292

Acknowledgments 309

A Note on Place Names, Transliterations, Terms, and Sources 315

Abbreviations 321

Notes 325

Index 399

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Andrade provides a fascinating window onto late eighteenth-century China."—Mark C. Elliott, author of Emperor Qianlong: Son of Heaven, Man of the World

"Drawing on Dutch, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean sources, Andrade vividly recreates the experiences of the Dutch mission as it traveled to Emperor Qianlong's court in 1795. Readers will be enthralled by this account, which challenges generalizations about the European view of China in the early nineteenth century."—Evelyn S. Rawski, author of Early Modern China and Northeast Asia: Cross-Border Perspectives

"The Last Embassy is a superbly written, illuminating, and thought-provoking book on an important topic long overlooked by historians. With vivid powers of narration, Andrade takes readers on a grand tour of the geographical, political, and cultural landscapes of Qing China."—Wensheng Wang, author of White Lotus Rebels and South China Pirates: Crisis and Reform in the Qing Empire

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