Juan González de Mendoza

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Most Reverend
Juan González de Mendoza
Bishop of Popayán
Church Catholic Church
Diocese Diocese of Popayán
In office 1608–1618
Predecessor Juan de La Roca
Successor Ambrosio Vallejo Mejía
Consecration 7 June 1593
by Filippo Spinola
Personal details
Born 1545
Torrecilla en Cameros (La Rioja (Spain))
Died 14 February 1618
Popayán, Colombia
Previous post Bishop of Lipari (1593–1599)
Bishop of Chiapas (1607–1608)

Juan González de Mendoza, O.S.A. (1545 – 14 February 1618) was the author of the first Western history of China to publish Chinese characters for Western delectation. Published by him in 1586, Historia de las cosas más notables, ritos y costumbres del gran reyno de la China (The History of the Great and Mighty Kingdom of China and the Situation Thereof) is an account of observations several Spanish travelers in China. An English translation by Robert Parke appeared in 1588 and was reprinted by the Hakluyt Society in two volumes, edited by Sir George T. Staunton, Bart. (London, 1853–54).

Mendoza's Historia may have been the first book-length work on China published in Europe since the days of Marco Polo. It was mostly superseded in 1615 by the work of much more informed Jesuit missionaries who actually lived in China, Matteo Ricci and Nicolas Trigault, De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas.


First page of the chapter on Chinese language in Mendoza's book, in its original 1585 Spanish edition. According to Staunton, of the two characters shown on this page, the first (said to mean "heaven") is hard to identify, although he guesses that it might be 𨺩 (a variant of 乾).[1] Modern Chinese translators of Mendoza's books suggest that 穹 may have been meant.[2] (May it though be a combination of two characters, with the one on top being a 天, perhaps in seal script?). The second (said to mean "king") is a poorly written 皇.[1]

Mendoza was born at Torrecilla en Cameros (La Rioja (Spain)) in 1545. He joined the army but after some years resigned to enter the Order of Saint Augustine. He based his most famous text on the journals of Miguel de Luarca, whose 1580 trip to Ming China provided a simple majority thereof. He never set foot in China, but spent two years in Mexico before returning to Spain.

On 31 May 1593, he was appointed during the papacy of Pope Clement VIII as Bishop of Lipari.[3] On 7 June 1593, he was consecrated bishop by Filippo Spinola, Cardinal-Priest of Santa Sabina, with Cristóbal Senmanat y Robuster, Bishop of Orihuela, and Lorenzo Celsi (bishop), Bishop of Castro del Lazio, serving as co-consecrators.[3] On 24 May 1599, he resigned as Bishop of Lipari.[3] On 7 May 1607, he was appointed during the papacy of Pope Paul V as Bishop of Chiapas.[3] On 17 November 1608, he was appointed during the papacy of Pope Paul V as Bishop of Popayán.[3] He served as Bishop of Popayán until his death on 14 February 1618.[3]

Episcopal succession[edit]

While bishop, he was the principal co-consecrator of:[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b See footnotes to pp. 121–122 in the annotated 1853 English edition: The history of the great and mighty kingdom of China and the situation thereof
  2. ^ Juan González de Mendoza (门多萨) (1998), 中华大帝国史 (Zhonghua da di guo shi) / History of the great and mighty kingdom of China and the situation thereof, 中外关系史名著译丛 (Zhong-wai guan xishi mingzhu yi cong) (Collected translations of famous works on Sino-Western relations), translated by He Gaoji (何高济), Beijing: 中华书局 (Zhonghua shu ju), ISBN 7-101-01587-5 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Bishop Juan Pedro González de Mendoza, O.S.A." Catholic-Hierarchy.org. David M. Cheney. Retrieved September 25, 2016


External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Martín Acuña
Bishop of Lipari
Succeeded by
Alfonso Vidal
Preceded by
Lucas Duran
Bishop of Chiapas
Succeeded by
Juan Tomás de Blanes
Preceded by
Juan de La Roca
Bishop of Popayán
Succeeded by
Ambrosio Vallejo Mejía