An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Lidai bingzhi 歷代兵制

Jan 15, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Lidai bingzhi 歷代兵制 "The military systems throughout the ages" is a military treatise written during the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) by Chen Fuliang 陳傅良 (1137-1203). It has a length of 8 juan and describes the military system from the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) to the Northern Song 北宋 (960-1126).

Detailed information is provided on the recruitment of peasant militias recruited according to the putative well-field system (jingtianzhi 井田制) of the Zhou period 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE), the guards of the capital and the local cavalry and chariot units during the Han period, the garrison militia (fubing 府兵) and cavalry units, as well as the capital guards from the Sui 隋 (581-618) and Tang period 唐 (618-907), and the prefectural armies (xiangbing 廂兵) and the frontier tribal troops (fanbing 蕃兵) from the Northern Wei period 北魏 (386-534).

Chen does not only describe the types of troops and the organisation of the military units, but also discusses the coming and going of the different styles of recruitment and defence, rewards and expenses, as well as tactics of fighting. He supports the coherence between the peasantry that served as the main pool for recruitment and to which troops could return when installed in military colonies. During war, the population should not be harrassed, and war should not be limitless. The powers among the commanders are to be clearly defined, and a general is not a dictator. The quality of the troops can, Chen says, only be secured if the soldiers are carefully selected and trained. Otherwise the outcome will be just like the one the Song dynasty had experienced when she had to flee to the south.

The Lidai bingzhi is included in the series Mohai jinhu 墨海金壺, Shoushange congshu 守山閣叢書, Chang'enshushi congshu 長恩書室叢書, and the Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

De Zong 德宗 (1983). "Guanyu Lidai bingzhi de zhuanxie 關於《歷代兵制》的撰寫", Henan Shifan Daxue bao (Shehui kexue ban) 河南師大學報(社會科學版), 1983 (8).
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 117.
Xiang Lusheng 向麓生 (1988). "Zhongguo di yi bu xitong yanjiu junshi zhidu de zhuanzhu: Lidai bingzhi 中國第一部系統研究軍事制度的專著——《歷代兵制》", Junshi lishi yanjiu 軍事歷史研究, 1988 (9).
Zhang Lie 張烈 (1989). "Lidai bingzhi 歷代兵制", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Junshi 軍事 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 686.