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Birong yehua 避戎夜話

May 25, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Birong yehua 避戎夜話 "Night talks of evading war" is a history on the conquest of Kaifeng 開封, Henan (at that time called Bianjing 汴京) by the Jurchens, founders of the Jin dynasty 金 (1115-1234) written by the Southern Song-period 南宋 (1127-1279) scholar Shi Maoliang 石茂良, courtesy name Taichu 太初.

Shi himself was among the residents of Kaifeng during the siege and was therefore an eyewitness of the events. In the book catalogue Suichutang shumu 遂初堂書目, the book is called Jingkang yehua 靖康夜話, called so because the war took place during the Jingkang reign-period 靖康 (1126).

In the short text, he describes how Yao Youzhong 姚友仲 took care of the defence of the eastern and western walls. The details are very important because there is no official biography of Yao in the dynastic history Songshi 宋史, and he is only shortly mentioned in the annals of Emperor Qinzong 宋欽宗 (r. 1125-1126). Part of Shi's preface (Zixu 自敍) is quoted in the chronicle Sanchao beimeng huibian 三朝北盟會編. It might be that the quoted passage was originally part of the Birong yehua text itself, but was cut out in later editions.

The bibliography Junzhai dushu zhi 郡齋讀書志 lists a series of books on the downfall of the Northern Song 北宋 (960-1126), namely Jinren beimeng lu 金人背盟錄 (length 7 juan), Weicheng zaji 圍城雜記, Jinguo xingcheng 金國行程, Nanguilu 南歸錄 (written by Shen Guan 沈琯), (Jingkang) Chaoye qianyan (靖康)朝野僉言 (written by Xia Shaozeng 夏少曾?), and Birong yehua. All books are said to have been "compiled" by Wang Zao 汪藻 (1079-1154), yet this statement means that Wang Zao only edited the set, and was not the author of the books.

The text of the Birong yehua is included in the series Shuoku 說庫.

Source:
Siku quanshu zongmu tiyao 四庫全書總目提要, 52.