What’s the earliest example of an AMWF couple in recorded history? That distinction might just go to Arcadio Huang and Marie-Claude Regnier, who married in Paris in 1713.
Arcadio Huang was one of the first Chinese men to visit Europe, arriving in the early 1700s. He was the son of a Catholic convert in Fujian, and went abroad to initially fulfill his father’s wish that he become a priest. The religious orders, however, weren’t to his liking. So instead missionaries helped him settle in Paris, where he fulfilled a different destiny:
In the early years of the 18th century, European scholars made huge advances in their understanding of Chinese language and culture. Much of this work rested on the efforts of a remarkable young man named Arcadio Huang.
Huang became the Chinese interpreter for King Louis XIV of France, and began his groundbreaking work on a Chinese-French dictionary.
Along the way, Huang met and fell in love with a white French woman, Marie-Claude Regnier, who would become his lawfully wedded wife in 1713. According to research by Jonathan Spence, the couple faced some tough times:
Life was hard for Arcadio Huang in the autumn and early winter of 1713. Paris was bitterly cold and covered in fog. France’s long war over the Spanish Succession had demoralized the population, driven up the cost of food and eroded the value of money. Arcadio had married a young Parisian woman, Marie-Claude Regnier, in April 1713; their life quickly became a struggle for survival and self-respect. Their rented room in rue Guénégaud, on the south bank of the Seine across from Notre Dame cathedral, was always cold since they had not enough money for a regular supply of wood or coal. Their furniture was sparse, they had few clothes and they could not afford a decent matrimonial bed. Salt for their simple meals was too expensive. And, worst of all, on some mornings Huang would awaken spitting blood. After these episodes he felt a terrible lassitude and would need to rest in bed for hours.
Tragically, Marie-Claude would later die in childbirth in 1715. Huang passed away a year and a half later, leaving behind their daughter, who would die a few months after him. Nevertheless it is said the couple enjoyed a happy marriage during their short time together.
Let’s raise our collective glasses to Arcadio Huang and Marie-Claude Regnier, who might just be the first AMWF couple in recorded history in Europe, if not the world.