- Princeton University Press
The Last Embassy: The Dutch Mission of 1795 and the Forgotten History of Western Encounters with China
- Tonio Andrade
- Princeton University Press
- History > Asia - China
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 the Dutch delegation and by Chinese artists, The Last Embassy reveals that the Qing court, mischaracterized as arrogant and narrow-minded by British diplomats and historians, was in fact open, flexible, curious, and very cosmopolitan.
I’m part of a new field in historical studies known as Global History, which focuses on commonalities and connections between the myriad societies on the planet rather than on traditionally-defined political or cultural units. My core geographical area of expertise is China, but my research focuses on interconnections in the Early Modern Period (1500-1800) and on comparative history.
The main question that fascinates me is: Why did western Europeans, who sat on the far edge of Eurasia and were backward by Asian standards, rise to global prominence starting in the 1500s, establishing durable maritime empires that spanned the seas?
My first book, How Taiwan Became Chinese (2007), examined how Dutch, Spanish, and Chinese colonization met and competed in the Far East and asked why it was that the Chinese prevailed over the Europeans rather than the other way around, suggesting that political will – that is to say state support for expansion – was a key variable. My second book, Lost Colony (2011), examined the Sino-Dutch War of 1661-1668, Europe’s first war with China and the only significant Sino-European conflict until the Opium War of 1839–42.
It asked whether Europeans had – at this early date – any significant advantages in military and naval technology over China and concluded that they did, although not perhaps in the areas people might have expected. My third book, The Gunpowder Age (2016), looked more deeply into China’s military past, comparing it to that of Europe, and showing that China’s China’s dynamism was deeper, longer lasting, and more quickly recovered than has long been believed.
- The Gunpowder Age: China, Military Innovation, and the Rise of the West in World History (Princeton, 2016)
- Lost Colony: The Untold Story of Europe’s First War with China (Princeton, 2011)
- How Taiwan Became Chinese (Columbia University Press, 2007)
Articles in Journal of World History, Late Imperial China, Canadian Journal of Sociology, Itinerario, and Journal of Asian Studies, among others. Honors include The John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and the Gutenberg-e Prize.
I accept Ph.D. students not just in Chinese history but also in the history of early modern European colonialism.
Syllabus for History 260: East Asia, 1500 to the Present
Emory Endeavors in World History (undergraduate history journal)
BA, Reed College, 1992.
MA, University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign, 1994.
MA, Yale University, 1997.
MPhil, Yale University, 1998.
PhD, Yale University, 2000.
Source: Emory College of Arts & Sciences
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