World Horizon: China in the Renaissance, 1350 to 1650



For a history of China focused on Chinese relations with the outside world, the age of the Renaissance must hold a position of exceptional importance. If the modern world system was born in the middle ages with the mutation of Latin Christendom, the Mongolian explosion and the unification of information and disease, it began to walk, indeed leap forward, with the oceanic revolution, the Iberian empires and the first sustained extra-European missionary activity. It is arguable that before Columbus, Magellan and St Francis Xavier, there was no true world history. Philip II was the first planetary ruler in the sense of possessing lands in all four primary civilizations: Europe and America, the Far East and Black Africa. His was the first empire on which the sun never set: he was the true roi soleil of the Egyptomanes. From the sixteenth century there was little doubt that there was going to be a world system or that Western Europe was going to be its centre, as new world institutions, of which the two first were the Atlantic economy of Seville and the Jesuit international, were cantilevered out from it.


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Copyright information

© S. A. M. Adshead 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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