An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Guoque 國榷

Jul 3, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Guoque 國榷 "Discussions about the state" is an unofficial history of the Ming dynasty 明 (1368-1644) compiled by Tan Qian 談遷 (1593-1657, original name Yixun 以訓, style Guanruo 觀若, later Rumu 孺木) who, as official in the bureau for historiography, had compiled the "Veritable records of the Ming" (Mingshilu 明實錄), and planned to compile more "objective" annals in 1621.

These annals were several times rewritten and found their final shape in a publication in 1647. This book, called Guoque, covers the time from the birth of Zhu Yuanzhang 朱元璋, the eventual Emperor Taizu 明太祖 (r. 1368 – 1396) and founder of the Ming dynasty, until the end of the Ming and the conquest of the secondary capital Nanjing 南京 by the armies of the Manchus.

Unlike the official annals of the Ming, Mingshilu, Tan Qian's Guoque does not simply quote imperial decisions on questions of daily routine, but rather reflects on events and investigates the background of many facts. His book is also important for the pre-history of the Qing dynasty 清 (1644-1911), the Jurchens (early Manchus) at the beginning of the 17th century, and the foundation of their Manchu empire in the northeast. The last years of the Ming dynasty during the Chongzhen reign 崇禎 (1628-1644) are described on the base of the official capital gazette (dibao 邸報), local gazetteers and oral reports.

The value of the Guoque is reduced by the fact that the book includes many contradictions and that many passages are too short. The book consists of 108 juan. The title "discussions" (que 榷) points to the important function of memorials as a source for what they reveal about deliberations on specific political matters. A significant number of them are quoted in this volume.

The Guoque is included in the series Xuxiu siku quanshu 續修四庫全書.

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. 1, 889.
Wu Feng, ed. 吳楓 (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Jilin: Changchun wenshi chubanshe), 963.