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This volume presents critical editions of two previously unpublished missionary accounts of Ayutthaya and the East Indies scene after the "National" Revolution of 1688 in Thailand. The texts presented are Relation de Voyage aux Indes, 1690-99, by Guy Tachard, a French Jesuit; and Relatione Distinta delli Regni di Siam, China, Tunchino, e Cocincina (ca. 1707), by Nicola Cima, an Italian Augustinian. These interesting, substantial texts tell us a lot both about the Europeans who were writing them, and about Southeast Asia in a period when information was in much shorter supply than prior to 1688, and when kingdoms across Southeast Asia tended to retract from outward engagement and to become what historians have christened "hermit kingdoms." They are coloured by delusional thinking: in Tachard’s case of an active French colonial presence in that part of the world irrespective of the lessons of 1688-89, or in Cima’s case, of a revived Venetian maritime trade to the East Indies in an unlikely partnership with the Danish East Indies Company. Including a substantial introduction to contextualize the accounts, this book makes available in English some primary source material addressing important and overlooked aspects of the European missionary mentality.
Stefan Halikowski Smith is Associate Professor, Department of History at Swansea University.