Red Manifesto

red manifesto

In 1706, at the height of the Chinese Rites Controversy, the Kangxi Emperor appointed two Jesuit missionaries, Fathers Antonio de Barros and Antoine de Beauvollier, as his special envoys to Rome. Their mission ended tragically when their ship capsized within sight of the Portuguese coast.

Not having any news from them, the Emperor appointed Fathers José Ramón Arxo and Giuseppe Provana, also Jesuit missionaries, as his representatives in Rome. Arxo and Provana left Macau in 1708. Arxo died in Spain in 1711 and Provana died in 1720 on the return voyage to China. Since no word of their deliberations came to the Emperor, he had this document, the Red Manifesto, or Hongpiao (紅票), written and all missionaries resident in Beijing sign it, and ordered it given to any Europeans who came to the capitol. He states that he will not give credence to any documents regarding the Rites Controversy until his envoys return.

Note that the term piao (票) already had special meaning in the early history of Catholicism in China, referring to the "permit" that missioners were required to sign stating they would adhere to the principles established (by Ricci and the early Jesuits) and practiced during the early Kangxi era. Once Clement XI's decree of 1715 (unknown in China at the time the Manifesto was written) declared those practices heretical, the Jesuit project in China lost significant momentum.

The Manifesto is written in Manchu, Chinese, and Latin, and printed in vermilion ink with a border of five-clawed dragons reserved for proclamations of the Emperor. It is block-printed, 39 x 93 cm. The original was written in Manchu by the Kangxi Emperor himself at Anzuling. Officials of the Imperial printers at the Wuyingdian rendered the Manchu into Chinese, which the Emperor himself corrected. Jesuit missionaries at court provide the Latin translation, and their signatures may be seen in that section.


English Translation (Paragraphing created throughout to aid comparison of the three texts.)

In compliance with His Majesty's Imperial Order, We, the Intendants of the Imperial Press at the Wuyingdian, Yi Duli, Wang Daohua, and Zhao Chang, respectfully announce to all who have come from West the following manifesto:

In the 45th year of the Kangxi reign the Westerners Fr. António de Barros, S.J. [Long Anguo] and Fr. Antoine de Beauvollier, S.J. [Bo Xianshi] were appointed Imperial envoys. During the 47th year of the Kangxi reign the Westerners Fr. Giuseppe Provana, S.J. [Ai Ruose], and Fr. José Raimundo de Arxo, S.J. [Lu Ruose], were likewise appointed envoys, received their Imperial orders, and departed for the West.

For these many years until the present, there has not only been no written contact from them, but other missives difficult to interpret or validate have been received. For this reason another letter [to Rome] was sent via the Russians which we hope reached its destination.

Certainly until the men we dispatched have returned and these matters settled no credence can be placed in other explanations. If our envoys fail to return, we will have no positive evidence for whatever other letters may be had, and thus we cannot place our trust in them.

Therefore, fearing that our [most recent] letter will fail to reach its destination, this manifesto, with Western language text appended, has been printed and given the seal of the Provincial Governor of Guangdong Province. It is an open-letter to be copied and distributed among all Westerners who arrive that they may carry back for distribution.

[Dated] 17th day of the 9th month of the 55th year of Kangxi [October 31, 1716]


Chinese Text













Transcription of the Latin Translation

Nos Ytoury [伊都立] , Voamtaohoa [王道化], Tchaotcham [趙昌] , Aulæ Ouintien [武英殿], et ejusmodi, ubi libri conficiuntur. Locorum Mandarini, obedientes reverenter Imperatoris mandato, ad omnes qui ex Europa appulerunt, scribimus.


Anno Kam-Hi [康熙] 45o PP. Ants Barros et Ants Beauvolier: anno Kam-Hi 47o PP. Joses Provana et Raymondus de Arxo de mandato Impertoris in Europam missi sunt.


Multis ab hinc annis non modò nullam responsum venit, unde verum e falso discernis non potest, sed etiam confusi rumores afferuntur. Idcirco Muscovitis rursus tradita est Epistola deferenda, quam verisimile est pervenisse.

Certè quidem cum homines a nobis missi redierint, et negotia omnino clara fuerint, tunc adhiberi fides poterit. At nisi homines a nobis missi revertantur, dcerit verum fundamentum: et etiamsi quæcumque epistolæ vel nuntia venerint , omnino credi non potest.

Et veriti ne litteræ penetrare non possint, has scribimus: his versio europæa adjiciatur: omnia typis mandentur: Proregis Cantoniensis sigillo muniatur: non autem claudantur: pluriamque Exemplaria omnibus recenter advectis Europæis distribuantur, quæ ipsi secum asportent.

Datum An: Kam-Hi 55o (1716) 9æ Lunæ die 17a (Octob:31.)

De mandato Imperatoris subscripsimus

Kilianus Stumpf, Soc Jesu

Dominicus Parrenin SocJ:

Joseph Baudinus [i.e. Baudino] S.J.

Petr. Vinc. De Tartre S.J.

Frantz Stadtlin S.J.

Mathaus Ripa Mys Aptious, Sac.Cong.Prop.Fide

Josephus Suares S.J.

Petrus Jartoux Soc:J.

Jacobus Brocard S.J.

Joachimus Bouvet Soc.J.

Tranc. Cardoso Soc.J.

Joseph da Costa S.J.

Theodor s Pedrini M.A.

Joan. Franc. Foucquet, S.J.

Johannes J Mourao S.J.

Joseph Castiglione S.J.



Litterae patentes imperatoris Sinarum Kang-Hi. Sinice et Latine cum interpretatione Ignatii Koegleri; Ex archetypo sinensi edidit additis notitiis sinicis Christophorus Theophilus de Murr ... Norimbergae et Altdorfii: Bibliopolio Monathi et Kussleri, 1802. Includes detailed description of this document.

Apostolic Legations to China of the eighteenth century. Antonio Sisto Rosso, O.F.M. South Pasadena: Perkins, 1948. Learn More.

康熙與羅馬使節關係文書 (Documents in Connection with the Negotiations between the Apostolic Delegate from Rome and Kangxi, Emperor of the Qing).   Chen Yuan. 1932, 1974 rpt. Learn More  or read the full Chinese text online.