An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Gechu yishi 革除遺事

Aug 16, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Gechu yishi 革除遺事 is the title of several books on the turbulent Jianwen reign-period 建文 (1398-1402) of the early Ming period 明 (1368-1644). The first book was written by Huang Zuo 黃佐 xxx, courtesy name Caibo 才伯, style Taiquan 泰泉, author of the ritual book Taiquan xiangli 泰泉鄉禮.

The original length of his book was 16 juan, but Huang himself decided to shorten it to 7 juan, of which the first fascicle including the imperial annals (benji 本紀) was lost. The fact of the abbreviation is told in Yu Gun's 郁袞 book Gechao yizhong lu 革朝遺忠錄. During the Qing period 清 (1644-1911), only 6 juan were left which consisted only of normal biographies (liezhuan 列傳). The compilers of the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 nevertheless put the short version Gechu yishi jieben 革除遺事節本 into the subcategory "Miscellaneous histories" (zashi lei 雜史類), and not in the subcategory "Biographies" (zhuanji lei 傳記類) because the book had once been a "valid" history book written in the biographical style (jizhuanti 紀傳體).

Huang's original had apparently also a part called "outer biographies" (waizhuan 外傳), including persons like the court monk Yao Guangxu 姚廣孝 which were not directly involved into the politics of the time.

The 6 remaining fascicles provide information on the Jianwen Emperor 建文帝, the consorts of the heir apparent, his ministers like Dong Lun 董倫, Mu Chun 沐春 or Wang Kun 王紳, martyrs having died for him like Fang Xiaoru 方孝孺 (1357-1402), Huang Zicheng 黃子澄, Qi Tai 齊泰, Lian Zining 練子寧, Tie Xuan 鐵鉉 or Zhuo Jing 卓敬, loyal generals fighting against the Prince of Yan (the eventual Emperor Chengzu), like Geng Bingwen 耿炳文, Gao Wei 高巍 or Ma Xuan 馬宣, or other persons living during the time like Wang Chun 王鈍, Zheng Ci 鄭賜 or Huang Fu 黃福.

Huang's book was printed in 1828 and is found in the series Lingnan yishu 嶺南遺書, Jieyue shanfang huichao 借月山房彙鈔, Shuofu 說郛 (in extracts), Zhongguo yeshi jicheng 中國野史集成, and Xuxiu siku quanshu 續修四庫全書.

Apart from Yu Gun's Gechao yizhong lu, there was a further book of this title written by an unknown author and printed by Du Si 杜思 (Zirong 子睿). Both books have a length of 2 juan.

A second book of the title was compiled by Fu Yan 符驗 (jinshi degree 1538), courtesy name Dachong 大充, style Songyan 松岩. This book of 16 juan is, according to the preface, mainly based on Yu Gun's version of the story, but in fact, the wording is equal to Huang Zuo's book. The compilers of the Siku quanshu did not put much trust in this version. Huang's Gechu yishi, for instance, is called Gechu jianshi 革除間史 or 革除録. In the biographical chapters of the official dynastic history Mingshi 明史 ((96-99 Yiwen zhi 藝文志), the book is called Xunguozhi 遜國志.

Thes books must not be confounded with Zhu Mujie's 朱睦㮮 (1518-1587) Gechu yishi 革除逸史, yet another chronicle on the Jianwen reign-period.

Ding Xiuzhen 丁修真, Xia Weizhong 夏維中 (2012). "Mingdai zhongqi Jianwen gushi de zhenghe yu chanbo: Yi Huang Zuo Gechu yishi wei zhongxin 明代中期建文故事的整合與傳播—以黃佐《革除遺事》為中心", Anhui shixue 安徽史學, 2012 (11).
Siku quanshu zongmu tiyao 四庫全書總目提要, 53.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 601.