As for the Jesuits of China, they were by no means homogeneous as a group. A distinction had long existed between the court Jesuits and those based in the provinces. The situation was further complicated by the arrival of the first French Jesuits in Beijing. In an attempt to extend his influence to East Asia, King Louis XIV sent six French Jesuits to China in 1687, all of them well trained in science and with the title of 'Mathematiciens du Roy'. They successfully demonstrated their skills to the Kangxi emperor and as a result were given a piece of land within the imperial precinct, where later the famous Northern Church (Beitang) was erected.13 However, a conflict soon developed between the French Jesuits and the Portuguese-sponsored Jesuits working at the Astronomical Bureau. It was both a clash of national interests and a competition for scientific influence.14 As a result of this conflict, the French Jesuit mission was separated from the Portuguese Jesuit vice-province in November 1700.

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