8vo. (8) ff., 367 (1) pp. Bound in contemporary calf, gilt heraldic stamp on covers, gilt spine with raised bands worn with joints cracked but sound, head, foot and corners bumped. Lacking endleaves; illegible ownership inscription on lightly soiled title; very good overall.
Rare first edition of this account of the state of Christianity in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam by rivals of the Jesuits. The Soci' des Missions Etrang's, a new apostolic missionary group established in Paris in 1660, was as a society of secular priests who devoted their lives to foreign missions but refrained from taking vows. Under the aegis of the Propaganda Fide, the Missions soon became embroiled in conflicts over territory with the Jesuits. As a result of the patriotism of its priests, the organization's impact extended beyond evangelicalism into the political realm: in addition to facilitating a series of embassies and treaties, it also successfully established a more active trade between Indo-China, the Indies, and France.
This Relation brought fresh information about the condition of the mission in different parts of southeastern Asia between 1666 and 1671. It consists of four parts, the first dealing with the mission in Siam and containing descriptions of amongst others Bourbon Island, Madagascar, and Mozambique, the second treating the situation in Cochin-China, the third the mission in Cambodia, and the fourth being devoted to Tongking, including an account of the work of bishop Lambert de la Motte. (Lambert was a member of the Society's first expedition to the Far East, which had left Europe in 1660.)
Fermanel de Favery (c. 1632-88), superior and director of the "S'naire pour les Missions Etrang's," signs the dedicatory epistle to Cardinal de Bo' and consequently Streit, Lach and Van der Kley ascribe authorship to him. The work was reprinted in 1680 and 1684, and an Italian translation, Relatione delle missioni de vescovi vicarii apostolici' alli regni di Siam, Cocincina, Camboia, e Tunkino, was published in Rome in 1677 and 1697.
* Cordier I.826 (s.v. Evêques Français); Chadenat 1706 (1684 ed.); Satow 46; Streit V.1797; Lach III.i.222ff.