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Gechu yishi 革除逸史

Jun 11, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Gechu yishi 革除逸史 "Remnant history of the elimination", also called Xunguoji 遜國記 "The abdication of the throne", is a history book written by the Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) master Zhu Mujie 朱睦㮮 (1518-1587), who was also author of the books Shengdian 聖典, Shoujingtu 授經圖 and Zhouyi jiyi 周易稽疑. His collected writings are called Pishang ji 陂上集.

The 2-juan long book describes how Zhu Di 朱棣 (the eventual Emperor Chengzu 明成祖, r. 1402-1424), the Prince of Yan 燕, conquered the capital Nanjing 南京 and overthrew the Jianwen Emperor 建文帝 (r. 1398-1402). The term "elimination" (gechu 革除) refers to the abolishment of the reign motto Jianwen and the reintroduction of the motto Hongwu 洪武 (1368-1398/1403).

The book was prohibited for two decades and only rarely available. Only during the 1430s, documents from the Jianwen reign-period reappeared and allowed a discourse over the usurpation of the Yongle Emperor 永樂帝 (i.e. Chengzu) of the throne of his uncle. The adherents of the Jianwen Emperor having died for their sovereign were regarded as heroes or martyrs. Their loyalty was praised in writings like (Fengtian) Jingnanlu (奉天)靖難錄 (anonymous), Congwanglu 從亡錄 (? Congwang suibi 從亡隨筆 by Qian Shisheng 錢士升) or Zhishenlu 致身錄 by Shi Zhongbin 史仲彬, and also in a book called Gechulu 革除錄. The latter had the character of a novella intermixed with historical facts. Zhu Mujie revised the text on the base of official documents and produced a reliable history book on the events during the time. The book was finished in 1574. Its only shortcoming is the preservation of the legend that the Jianwen Emperor escaped, lived as a monk, and even found entrance into the imperial palace during the Zhengtong reign-period 正統 (1436-1449).

A Ming-period print and a manuscript version survive. The book is included in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Zhihai 指海 and Zhongguo yeshi jicheng 中國野史集成.

Source:
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 601.