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The Second Japanese Embassy to Europe

AMATI, Scipione. Historia del regno di Voxu del Giapone, dell, antichita, nobilta, e valore del suo re Idate Masamune... Rome, Giacomo Mascardi, 1615.

4to. [21.6 x 15.7 cm], (8) ff., 76 pp. Bound in later cartonnage. Some minor wear and minimal damage at extremity of several leaves; pages lightly foxed throughout, but nonetheless a good, unsophisticated copy.


Very rare FIRST EDITION of this critical source for THE SECOND JAPANESE MISSION TO EUROPE of 1614, a Franciscan public relations event that sought to repeat the success of the first mission of 1585, which had been brilliantly engineered by their rivals the Jesuits, and to inspire financial and political support. The number of publications produced by the Franciscans concerning Japan is small compared to those by Jesuits. Although the results of the embassy for the mission back in Japan were negligible, the trip nonetheless deserves an important place in the history of East-West exchange.

The embassy was masterminded by the Franciscan missionary Luis Sotelo (1574-1624), active in Japan since 1603. In 1613, when persecution of all Christians began to increase in Japan, he was thrown into jail in Edo, slated for martyrdom. The intervention of the daimyo of Oshu, Date Masamune, an ally of the Tokagawas in Northern Japan, prevented this, and an embassy to Europe was soonafter envisioned. The embassy set out in October of 1613 with the daimyo's representative and a large retinue of Japanese merchants and attendants (roughly 68 persons according to Lach). After stops in Manila and Acapulco, the embassy proceeded to Mexico City; roughly half of the original party disembarked there, with the remainder arriving in Seville in October of 1614.

"Shortly after their arrival a brief Relacion was published which purported to summarize an edict by Date establishing the Christian faith in 'all of his kingdom' and ordering the dispatch of his ambassador to Spain in the company of Sotelo, a native Sevillian. The ambassador presented a letter from Date to the city as well as token gifts of a sword and a poniard. In the letter, Date indicated his desire to introduce Christianity to his realm and asked for shipbuilders and pilots to be sent to him who might help establish an annual voyage between Seville and Sendai, his major port. Once the welcoming festivities ended, the embassy hurried on to Madrid and a reception by Philip III on Dec. 20, 1614. From Date the king received a letter, similar in content to the letter addressed to Seville, five Japanese utensils as gifts, and proposed articles of agreement as the basis for a treaty. Philip's reaction to the proposal for a treaty of perpetual friendship was a polite refusal to commit himself. While the embassy toured in Italy during 1615-16, news began reaching Spain about the renewal in 1612-14 of the attacks upon Christianity in Japan" (Lach, Asia, III.1.331-32).

The present work gives an account of all of the events described above, along with a general introduction to the region, and includes the text of the ruler's edicts and letters in Italian and Latin (pp. 33-34, 65-66), the text of an oration made by a Franciscan during the papal presentation, as well as the text of the official papal response.

OCLC records three American copies: NYPL, the Bell Library and University of Washington. We find no record for another copy of this work in first edition on the market in many years, though the German translation published two years later (1617) has surfaced recently.

* Alt-Japan 58; Piantanida 1363; Brunet I.222; Graesse I.97; Lach, Asia in the Making of Europe III.1.331-32; C. Meriwether, �A Sketch of the Life of Date Masamune and an Account of his Embassy to Rome,� Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, 1st Series, XXI (1893-94), 1-105.

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