An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Dixue 帝學

Dec 30, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Dixue 帝學 "[Historical] studies for an emperor" is a political treatise written during the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) by Fan Zuyu 范祖禹 (1011-1098). As Vice Minister of Rites, he took part in the compilation of the historiography critique Tangjian 唐鑑, which took 15 years to be completed.

Fan Zuyu regularly instructed Emperor Zhezong 宋哲宗 (r. 1085-1100) with practical politics as seen in historical examples. In order to provide his sovereign with a handbook on practical government in the Confucian sense, he compiled the Dixue. He selected many examples from history to explain how worthy and able advisors managed to support their ruler in a benevolent and righteous government. While the examples from antiquity only cover 2 juan from a total of 8 juan, the largest part is dedicated to the relations between rulers and ministers from the Tang 唐 (618-907) and the early Song periods. Fan Zuyu stressed the importance of taking the advice of successful examples of the past. A ruler had necessarily to study history, in order to learn the reasons for the rise and fall of empires and dynasties. In a simple and clear language, Fan Zuyu tried to make clear what was important in his eyes.

The oldest surviving print of the book dates from the Ming period 明 (1368-1644).

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1553.