Xu zizhi tongjian 續資治通鑑 "Continuation to the Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government" is a continuation to Sima Guang's 司馬光 (1019–1086) history Zizhi tongjian 資治通鑑. It was published under the name of the scholar and official Bi Yuan 畢沅 (1730-1797, courtesy name Xiangheng 纕蘅, style Qiufan 秋帆). He personally collected all kinds of historiographical sources and information. His collected writings are Lingyan shanren wenji 靈巖山人文集 (prose) and Lingyan shanren shiji 靈巖山人詩集 (poetry). Other writings of him can be found in the series Jingxuntang congshu 經訓堂叢書.
The original name of his 220-juan long history was Song-Yuan biannian 宋元編年 "Chronicle of the Song and Yuan periods". It was actually not compiled of Bi Yuan himself, but by a team of historians including Yan Changming 嚴長明 (1731-1787), Cheng Jinfang 程晉芳 (1718-1748), Shao Jinhan 邵晉涵 (1743-1796), Hong Liangji 洪亮吉 (1746-1809), Sun Xingyan 孫星衍 (1753-1818) and Zhang Xuecheng 章學誠 (1738-1801). The book was not yet finished when Bi Yuan died.
In 1801 Feng Jiwu 馮集梧 (jinshi degree 1781, courtesy name Xuanpu 軒圃, style Luting 鷺庭) obtained the already finished 103 juan and the manuscript of the rest, and published the draft. The design of the first part of the book in the printed original is therefore different from that of the second part. 182 juan deal with the Song period 宋 (960-1279), and 38 juan with the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368).
The compilers made use of Xu Qianxue's 徐乾學 (1631-1694) Zizhi tongjian houbian 資治通鑑後編, the official dynastic histories Songshi 宋史, Liaoshi 遼史, Jinshi 金史 and Yuanshi 元史, Li Tao's 李燾 (1115–1184) Xu zizhi tongjian changbian 續資治通鑑長編, Li Xinchuan's 李心傳 (1167 –1240) Jianyan yilai xinian yaolu 建炎以來系年要錄, Ye Longli's 葉隆禮 (jinshi degree 1247) Qidan guo zhi 契丹國志, and many less known historiographical sources, in total more than 110 books.
The Xu zizhi tongjian begins in 960, linking to the original Zizhi tongjian, and ends in 1370, with the foundation of the Ming dynasty 明 (1368-1644). The first part allows the same weight for all dynasties ruling China, and does not neglect the "barbarian" empires Liao 遼 (907-1125), Western Xia 西夏 (1038-1227) and Jin 金 (1115-1234) in favour to the "Chinese" Song dynasty.
The sources concentrate on the downfall of all of these dynasties and thus fulfil the original objective of the Zizhi tongjian, to be a "mirror for good government". The part on the Yuan period is unfortunately too superficial in comparison with the Song part. This is partially a consequence of the lack of sources on the Mongol reign of the Yuan.
Following the example of the Zizhi tongjian, each paragraph is enriched by a short text-critical comment (kaoyi 考異) to indicate differences in various sources.
The Xu zizhi tongjian is included in the series Zizhi tongjian huike 資治通鑑彙刻, Sibu beiyao 四部備要 and Xuxiu xiku quanshu 續修四庫全書.
There is a print from the Tongzhi reign 同治 (1862-1874). In 1957, the Zhonghua Book Company 中華書局 published an annotated modern version, eliminating printing errors of former versions. In the same year, the Guji press 古籍出版社 published an edition, a new Zhonghua publication was made in 1964, and in 1987 an edition by the Shanghai guji chubanshe 上海古籍出版社.