Boxer Codex: A plan to invade Siam. A Talk by John Silva


"Colorfully dressed Siamese man and his consort."


The sumptuously illustrated Boxer Codex, with close to 100 images on rice paper featuring the people of the Ladrones islands, the Philippines, Borneo, Moluccas, Java, Sumatra, Malaya, Vietnam, Cambodia, China and Japan, printed in the late 16th century, is the first known Western illustrated history of Asia in existence today. A complete and modern transcription, editing and annotation of the Codex was published by the Vibal Foundation of the Philippines in 2016, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Spanish on Philippine shores.  This publication, written in a modern understandable style, covering the kingdoms, and fiefdoms in Asia, plus two very important end letters attached and addressed to the Spanish King Philip II, draws our attention and is the subject of this talk. This compilation of reports and beautiful illustrations had the end point of enticing the King to extend its colonial reach, past Manila, to include all of Asia. Several events in Europe would scuttle the plan and the Boxer Codex is appreciated today as a late 16th century pristine manuscript capturing a visual and literary slice of life of the peoples of Asia.

Mr. John L. Silva is the Executive Director of the Ortigas Library in the Philippines. The private Library has a large collection of rare books, maps, prints, and vintage photographs of the Philippines, and is open to the general public. Mr. Silva received his M.A. in Philippine-American Studies from Goddard Cambridge in Massachusetts, USA.  He is a published author and contributes to various Philippine and international publications on history and culture.

Date: Thursday, 12 July 2018
Time: 7.30 p.m.
Place: The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21

Non-members donation: B200. Siam Society members, members’ spouses and children, and all students showing valid student ID cards are admitted free of charge. For more information, please contact Khun Arunsri or

Office Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9:00am. – 5:00pm.

The Siam Society is deeply grateful to the James H.W. Thompson Foundation for its generous support of the 2017-2018 Lecture Series.