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Matteo Ricci: Jesuit and Geometrist

The story of the Italian Jesuit priest who used geometry to bring together the intellectual worlds of Renaissance Europe and Ming dynasty China.

Better living through geometry. That was one of the lessons shared with the Chinese emperor by the Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci. He was part of an enterprising group of Jesuits priests who brought their faith to China, along with new ideas drawn from the scientific revolution changing early modern Europe. A collaboration rather than a conquest, Ricci worked with Chinese colleagues to develop ideas in astronomy, mathematics and even music - giving a favourable impression of the west to the elites of the Chinese court. And he even made a few Catholic converts, his life a demonstration that western religion in China didn't have to be about invasion, gunboats and opium trading.
Chinese Characters is a series of 20 essays exploring Chinese history through the life stories of key personalities.
Presenter: Rana Mitter
Producer: Ben Crighton
Researcher: Elizabeth Smith Rosser.

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15 minutes