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Herdtrich entered the Austrian province of the Society of Jesus on 27 October 1641, and in 1656 was chosen for the Chinese mission. For two years he laboured on the island of Sulawesi ("Celebes"). After 1660, he moved to the Chinese provinces of Shanxi and Henan. In 1671, he was called to the imperial court in Beijing as a mathematician; there, he joined a group of scholarly Jesuits with whom the Kangxi Emperor surrounded himself. The last nine years of his life were spent as superior of the mission of "Kiang-tcheon" in Shanxi.
Herdtrich professed a profound knowledge of the Chinese language and literature. He collaborated with Philippe Couplet, Prospero Intorcetta, and François de Rougemont in compiling Confucius, the Philosopher of the Chinese (Latin: Confucius Sinarum Philosophus), a major introduction to Chinese history and thought that was published in Paris in 1687. Herdtrich was also the author of a large Chinese-Latin dictionary (Wentse-Ko), probably one of the first of its kind.
- According to Franco, Christianus Henriques; Chinese, Ngen.
- "Welt-Bott", Augsburg, 1726, Nos. 16, 49.
- Huonder, Deutsche Jesuitenmissionäire (Freiburg im Br., 1899), 188;
- Dahlmann, Die Sprachenkunde und de Missionen (Freiburg im Br., 1891), 32-37;
- Hazart-Sontermann, Kirchengesch., I (Vienna and Munich, 1707), 706 sqq.
- Couplet, Philippe; et al., eds. (1687), Confucius Sinarum Philosophus, sive, Scientia Sinensis Latine Exposita [Confucius, Philosopher of the Chinese, or, Chinese Knowledge Explained in Latin], Paris: Daniel Horthemels. (in Latin)
Letters of Herdritch may be found in:
- Intorcetta, Compendiosa Narratione della Missione Cinense (Rome, 1672), 115-128;
- Adrien Greslon, Histoire de la Chine sous la domination des Tartares (Partis, 1670), 56;
- Kathol. Missionen (Freiburg im Br.) for 1901-02, pp. 25 sqq.; 1905-05, pp. 4 sqq.
- Catholic Encyclopedia article
- Friedrich Wilhelm Bautz (1990). "Herdtrich, Christian Wolfgang". In Bautz, Friedrich Wilhelm (ed.). Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 2. Hamm: Bautz. cols. 745–746. ISBN 3-88309-032-8.