- An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art
About [Location: HOME > Literature > Four Categories > Historiography > Annals and Chronicles > Mingshilu]

Chinese Literature
Mingshilu 明實錄

The Four Categories of Literature
TMingshilu 明實錄 “Veritable records of the Ming dynasty” is a collection of chronologically arranged records (edicts, protocols) from the Ming court. It covers the whole course of the Ming period, from the reign of Ming Taizu 明太祖 (r. 1368 – 1398), the dynastic founder, to Ming Xizong 明熹宗 (r. 1621 – 1627), the Tianqi Emperor 天啟, arranged strictly chronologically. The reign eras of Jianwen 建文 (1399 – 1403) and Jingtai 景泰 (1450 – 1456) were not allowed an own part, but are appended to the previous reigns. There are thus 13 reign periods covered in the 2,606 juan long book. The sources for the veritable records were mainly imperial edicts and decretes. The compilation of “veritable records” generally started after the death of an emperor, with the intention to provide a kind of official history of the reign resp. the late emperor. As the compilation was an official affair, it was supervised by a group of officials from the central government. When the draft was submitted to the throne the actual emperor wrote a preface (yu zhi xu 御製序). A list of all compilers from all departments of the central government was added, as well as an introduction explaining the guidelines which were observed during the compilation process (fanli 凡例). The manuscript was then destroyed and the official version kept in the library of the Imperical Secretariat (neifu 內府). From 1534 on the veritable records were transferred to the Capital Library (huangneichen 皇內宸), with a copy being kept in the Wenyuange Hall 文淵閣 in the Imperial Palace, whose library served the government officials. The exact data for each of the parts of the veritable records of the Ming are given in the table below. Two parts were not officially incorporated into the Mingshilu: The first are the veritable records for the father of Emperor Shizong 明世宗 (the Jiajing Emperor 嘉靖, r. 1522 – 1566), compiled under the supervision of Fei Hong 費宏 (1468 – 1535, courtesy name Zichong 子充, style Jianzhai 健齋 or Ehu 鵝湖). The emperor’s father had not been an emperor himself (although being granted posthumously an imperial title) and thus the book Ruizong shilu 睿宗實錄 “Veritable records of Emperor Ruizong” could not be considered part of the canon. The other are the veritable records of the Chongzhen reign (1628 – 1644), Yizong Chongzhen shilu 毅宗崇禎實錄 “Veritable records of Yizong, the Chongzhen Emperor” in 17 juan, which were only compiled at the beginning of the Qing period. The ‘traffic’ of documents became so intense during the Ming period that during the early 16th century information was forwarded on hand-copied files (chuanchaoben 傳抄本). In this hand-written form the Mingshilu was preserved, and it was never printed officially. The first modern reproduction of these hand-written copy was made in 1941 by Liang Hongzhi 梁鴻志, who had reprinted the copy stored in the archives of the Guoxue Library 國學圖書館 in Nanjing, in 500 volumes. Far more widespread is the Taiwanese reproduction from 1962 that is based on the copy originally kept in the Beiping Library 北平圖書館 in Beijing. This is the so-called Hongge edition 紅格本, in 183 volumes in total. This edition is furthermore enriched by a textual critique (jiaokanji 校勘記) in 29 volumes, and by the supplements of the Chongzhen shilu, the Chongzhen changbian 崇禎長編 “Extended records of the Chongzhen reign”, and the family instructions of the Ming dynasty, Huang-Ming baoxun 皇明寶訓.

Source: Wang Qiju 王其榘 (1992), "Mingshilu 明實錄", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, pp. 696 f.

book reign/years covered size (juan) author date of completion remarks
太祖高皇帝實錄 Taizu Gao huangdi shilu from 1335 to Hongwu 洪武 (1368- 1398) 257 Dong Lun 董倫; Li Jinglong 李景隆, Jie Jin 解縉; Yao Guangxiao 姚廣孝, Xia Yuanji 夏原吉, Hu Guang 胡廣 1418 The first version by Dong Lun was revised two times under the Yongle emperor (r. 1402-1424) because Dong's version included memorials citicising the Hongwu emperor (r. 1368-1398) for his cruelties as well as memorials remonstrating against the Yongle emperor's usurpation of the throne. The revision abbreviated the shilu in considerably.
太宗文皇帝實錄 Taizong Wen huangdi shili Jianwen 建文 (1399-1402), Yongle 永樂 (1403-1425) 130 Yang Shiqi 楊士奇 1430 Juan 1-9 deal with the four years of the Jianwen reign, which was later typed an usurpation. Officially the reign motto was therefore not adopted and the years run under the lable of Hongwu 32-35 instead.
仁宗昭皇帝實錄 Renzong Zhao huangdi shilu 1403-1404 10 Jian Yi 蹇義 1430 Covers only the months Yongle 22/8 to Hongxi 1/5.
宣宗章皇帝實錄 Xuanzong Zhang huangdi shilu Hongxi 洪熙 (1425), Xuande 宣德 (1426-1435) 115 Yang Shiqi 楊士奇 1438
英宗睿皇帝實錄 Yingzong Rui huangdi shilu Zhengtong 正統 (1436-1449), Jingtai 景泰 (1450-1456), Tianshun 天順 (1457-1464) 361 Yang Shiqi 楊士奇 1467 The years of the Jingtai period which are now bearing the title of Jingtai shilu 景泰實錄 "Veritable records of the Jingtai reign" originally were headed by the title of Feidi Cheng Li Wang fulu 廢帝郕戾王附錄 "Supplemented records from [the reign of] the Overthrown Emperor, Princely King Li of Cheng" (juan 183-273).
憲宗純皇帝實錄 Xianzong Chun huangdi shilu Chenghua 成化 (1465-1587) 293 Liu Ji 劉吉 1491
孝宗敬皇帝實錄 Xiaozong Jing huangdi shilu Hongzhi 弘治 (1488-1505) 224 Liu Jian 劉健, Xie Qian 謝遷; Jiao Fang 焦芳 1509 Moral critique by Liu Jin 劉瑾.
武宗毅皇帝實錄 Wuzong Yi huangdi shilu Zhengde 正德 (1506-1521) 197 Fei Hong 費宏 1525
世宗肅皇帝實錄 Shizong Su huangdi shilu Jiajing 嘉靖 (1522-1566) 566 Xu Jie 徐階, Zhang Juzheng 張居正 1577
穆宗莊皇帝實錄 Muzong Zhuang huangdi shilu Longqing 隆慶 (1567-1572) 70 Zhang Juzheng 張居正 1574
神宗顯皇帝實錄 Shenzong Xian huangdi shilu Wanli 萬曆 (1573-1619) 594 Wen Tiren 溫體仁 1630
光宗貞皇帝實錄 Guangzong Zhen huangdi shilu Taichang 泰昌 (1620) 8 Ye Xianggao 葉向高 1623
熹宗悊皇帝實錄 Xizong Zhe huangdi shilu Tianqi 天啟 (1621-1627) 84 Wen Tiren 溫體仁 1628 The years 1624 and 1627 have been destroyed by Feng Quan 馮全 who wanted to erase critical statements about himself in documents dealing with the affair around the eunuch Wei Zhongxian 魏忠賢.

September 28, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
Chinese Literature over time