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Jiashen chuanxin lu 甲申傳信錄

Jun 12, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Jiashen chuanxin lu 甲申傳信錄 "Trusworthy reports about the year 1644" is a book on the end of the Ming dynasty 明 (1368-1644) written by the early Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Qian Xin 錢𠷓, also called Qian Shixin 錢士馨, courtesy name Zhizhuo 稚拙 (Yazhuo 雅拙?), style Zhinong 稚農, from Pinghu 平湖, Zhejiang. He produced a poetry collection called Gengjia shiji 賡笳集詩 (or Gengjia ji 賡笳集), the history book Xu Yuejueshu 續越絕書, and some commentaries on Confucian Classics like Zhouli shuo 周禮說, Zhouli dayi 周禮答疑 and Yili shuo 儀禮說. His dates of life are unknown.

Qian spent his late years in Beijing, where he had the chance to read quite a few reports on the Manchu conquest of the year 1644 (cyclical signs jiashen 甲申, hence the title of his book), like Guobianlu 國變錄, Jiashen jibian 甲申紀變, Guonanji 國難記, Wenjian jilüe 聞見紀略, Bianji quezhuan 變紀確傳, Yandu riji 燕都日記 or Zaishenglu 再生錄. All of these books relied rather on hearsay than on historical facts, and therefore Qian decided to compile a book on his own. The result was a 10-juan long text which was finished in 1653.

The book begins with the suicide of the Chongzhen Emperor 崇禎帝 (Emperor Sizong 明思宗, r. 1627-1644) and the revolts in northern China. Chapters 3 to 6 describes the defence of Beijing against the rebel Li Zicheng 李自成 (1606-1645) and the regime of the usurper in the capital. Chapter 7 is dedicated to the rebellions in central and eastern China and Li Zicheng's attempt to suppress them. Fascicle 8 focuses on Wu Sangui's 吳三桂 (1608-1678) cooperation with the Manchus to get rid of Li Zicheng, and the rest of the book narrates the diplomatic relations of the last Ming princes with the Qing court of the Manchus.

Each chapter explains one coherent topic, partially in the style of a diary, and partially in prose form. The text is often interrupted by explanations of the compiler which helps a lot to understand certain contexts. Huang Jie 黃節 (1873-1935), compiler of the series Guocui congshu 國粹叢書, stressed that much information in the Jiashen chuanxin lu is not found in the official dynastic history Mingshi 明史, which makes Qian's book very helpful, even if the one or other statement is not correct.

The manuscript version of the book is full of clerical errors. A print of the book Lu chunqiu 魯春秋 published by the Jiaye Studio 嘉業堂 includes as an appendix the chapter Shichen bixue 使臣碧血, which is the last one of the Jiashen chuanxin lu. An annotated version (by Aisin Gioro Zhong-qian 愛新覺羅仲謙) was published by Master Zhu 朱氏 of Yanhai 海鹽. A small-sized edition (jinxiangben 巾箱本) print was published in 1840. The text is also found in the series Shengchao yishi chubian 勝朝遺事初編, Guocui congshu, Zhonggu neiluan waihuo lishi congshu 中國內亂外禍歷史叢書 and Zhongguo lishi yanjiu ziliao congshu 中國歷史研究資料叢書. A modern edition was published in 1951 by the Shenzhou Guoguang She 神州國光社.

Sources:
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 942.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhonggou guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 234.