The Info List - Alexandre De Rhodes

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Alexandre de Rhodes, S.J. (15 March 1591[1] – 5 November 1660) was a French Jesuit missionary and lexicographer who had a lasting impact on Christianity in Vietnam. He wrote the Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum, the first trilingual Vietnamese-Portuguese-Latin dictionary, published in Rome, in 1651.[2][3]


1 Biography 2 Works 3 Notes 4 Sources 5 External links


Map of "Annam" drafted by Alexandre de Rhodes (1651) showing "Cocincina" (left) and "Tunkin" (right).

Alexandre de Rhodes was born in Avignon, now in France. He was a descendant of Jewish origin.[4] He entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Rome on 24 April 1612 to dedicate his life to missionary work. He arrived in Indochina about 1619. A Jesuit mission had been established in Hanoi in 1615; Rhodes arrived there in 1620. He spent ten years in and around the Court at Hanoi during the rule of Trịnh Tùng and Trịnh Tráng. Rhodes spent twelve years in Vietnam studying under another Jesuit, Francisco de Pina.[5] In 1624, he was sent to the East Indies, arriving in Cochin-China on a boat with fellow Jesuit Girolamo Maiorica. In 1627, he travelled to Tongking, Vietnam where he worked until 1630, when he was forced to leave. He was expelled from Vietnam in 1630 as Trịnh Tráng became concerned about the spread of Catholicism in his realm. Rhodes in his reports said he converted more than 6,000 Vietnamese. Daily conversation in Vietnam "resembles the singing of birds", wrote Alexandre de Rhodes. From Vietnam Rhodes went to Macau, where he spent ten years. He then returned to Vietnam, this time to the lands of the Nguyễn Lords, mainly around Huế. He spent six years in this part until he aroused the displeasure of lord Nguyễn Phúc Lan and was condemned to death. As his sentence was reduced to exile, Rhodes returned to Rome by 1649 and pleaded for increased funding for Catholic missions to Vietnam, telling somewhat exaggerated stories about the natural riches to be found in Vietnam. This plea by Alexandre de Rhodes is at the origin of the creation of the Paris Foreign Missions Society in 1659. As neither the Portuguese nor the Pope showed interest in the project, Alexandre de Rhodes, with Pope Alexander VII's agreement, found secular volunteers in Paris in the persons of François Pallu and Pierre Lambert de la Motte, the first members of the Paris Foreign Missions Society, who were sent to the Far-East as Apostolic vicars.[6][7][8] Alexandre de Rhodes himself was sent to Persia instead of back to Vietnam. Rhodes died in Isfahan, Persia in 1660 and was buried in the New Julfa Armenian Cemetery. In 1943, the French colony of Indochina issued a 30c postage stamp honoring him. In 2001 Vietnamese artist Nguyen Dinh Dang created a painting in homage to Alexandre de Rhodes and Nguyen Van Vinh.[9] Works[edit]

Latin-Vietnamese catechism, written by Alexandre de Rhodes.

A page from Alexandre de Rhodes' 1651 dictionary, Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum.

While in Vietnam, de Rhodes developed an early Vietnamese alphabet based on work by earlier Portuguese missionaries. De Rhodes compiled a catechism, Phép giảng tám ngày, and a trilingual dictionary and grammar, Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum. Both were published in Rome in 1651. Unlike Maiorica's catechism and devotional texts, de Rhodes's works eschewed the traditional Vietnamese chữ Nôm script in favor of this new Latin-script alphabet.[10] Later refined as quốc ngữ, it eventually displaced chữ Nôm as the Vietnamese language's written form during the 19th and 20th centuries and "effectively separated ensuing generations of Vietnamese students from their own national literature, because they could no longer read it".[11][12] De Rhodes also wrote several books about Vietnam and his travels there, including:

Histoire du royaume de Tunquin (History of the Kingdom of Tonkin) (Rome, 1650) Tunchinensis historiæ libri duo (pub. 1652) Divers voyages et missions du P. Alexandre de Rhodes en la Chine et autres royaumes de l’Orient (Paris, 1653), translated into English as Rhodes of Viet Nam: The Travels and Missions of Father Alexandre de Rhodes in China and Other Kingdoms of the Orient (1966) La glorieuse mort d'André, Catéchiste (The Glorious Death of Andrew, Catechist) (pub. 1653)


^ Current scholarship suggests Rhodes may have been born in 1593. See Eduardo Torralba, S.I., "La Date de naissance du Père de Rhodes: 15 mars 1591, est-elle exacte?", in Bulletin de la Societé des Etudes Indochinoises, n.s. 35 (1960), 683–689, about the disagreement regarding the date of de Rhodes' birth. While some sources, including the Catholic Encyclopedia, indicate that the date was 1591, specialists such as Torralba, Peter Phan, Claude Larre, Pham Dinh Khiem, and Joseph Dehergne give the later date of 1593. ^ Wörterbücher: Ein Internationales Handbuch Zur Lexikographie by Franz Josef Hausmann, p.2583 [1] ^ Researches Into the Physical History of Mankind By James Cowles p.501 [2] ^ https://www.academia.edu/25566838/The_First_French_in_Macao._The_Jesuit_Alexandre_de_Rhodes ^ "Customs and Culture of Vietnam". Archived from the original on 2006-05-05.  ^ Viet Nam By Nhung Tuyet Tran, Anthony Reid p.222 ^ An Empire Divided by James Patrick Daughton, p.31 ^ Asia in the Making of Europe, p.229–230 ^ "The Introduction of Roman Writing Into Vietnam (The transcendental Death of Mr. Nguyen Van Vinh)".  ^ Sidwell P., Jenny M. The Handbook of Austroasiatic Languages. BRILL. 2014. V. 2. P. 909 ^ Pears P. A. Remnants of Empire in Algeria and Vietnam: Women, Words, and War. Lexington Books. 2006. P. 18 ^ Colonialism, Indigenous Society, and School Practices: French West Africa and Indochina, 1918–1938 // Altbach P. G., Kelly G. P. (ed.) Education and Colonialism. New York: Longman. 1991. P. 25


Tigers in the Rice, W. Sheldon p. 26 (1969) Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Alexandre de Rhodes

External links[edit]

Portuguese Missionaries and their Influence on Vietnamese

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French Indochina


France–Asia relations French colonial empire France–Vietnam relations France–Thailand relations France–China relations

Constituent territories

Cochinchina Tonkin Annam Cambodia Laos Guangzhouwan Provisional Central Government of Vietnam State of Vietnam


French assistance to Nguyễn Ánh (1777–1820) Lê Văn Khôi revolt (1833–35) Bombardment of Tourane (1847) Siege of Tourane (1858) Cochinchina campaign (1858–62) Tonkin Campaign (1883–1886) Sino-French War (1884–1885) Pacification of Tonkin Franco-Siamese War (1893) Holy Man's Rebellion (1901-1936) World War I 1916 Cochinchina uprising Thái Nguyên uprising War of the Insane Bazin assassination Yên Bái mutiny World War II French–Thai War (1940–1941) Japanese invasion of French Indochina Japanese coup d'état in French Indochina August Revolution Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam First Indochina War Battle of Dien Bien Phu Partition of Vietnam


Treaty of Versailles (1787) Treaty of Saigon (1862) Treaty of Huế (1863) Second Treaty of Saigon (1874) Treaty of Huế (1883) Geneva Conference (1954)

French personalities

Alexandre de Rhodes Pierre Pigneau de Behaine Jean-Baptiste Chaigneau Jean-Baptiste Cécille Charles de Montigny Charles Rigault de Genouilly Amédée Courbet Henri Rivière Francis Garnier Ernest Doudart de Lagrée Auguste Pavie Albert Sarraut


Paris Foreign Missions Society Tirailleurs indochinois Tonkin Expeditionary Corps Tonkinese Rifles Governor-General of French Indochina

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 17353013 LCCN: n85049058 ISNI: 0000 0001 0797 4391 GND: 100322719 SUDOC: 050638823 BNF: cb12937993m (data) BIBSYS: 1007632 BNE: XX1743945

v t e

Christianity in Vietnam


Protestantism in Vietnam Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship Assemblies of God in Vietnam Mennonite Church in Vietnam

Roman Catholic Church

Roman Catholicism in Vietnam

Orthodox Church

Orthodoxy in Vietnam

Christian missionaries in Vietnam

Éléazar-François des Achards de la Baume Christoforo Borri Léopold Michel Cadière William Cadman James Devlin Pierre Pigneau de Behaine Alexandre de Rhodes Augustin Schoeffler Théophane Vénard

Other pages of interest

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