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Mingji beilüe 明季北略

Sep 9, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Mingji beilüe 明季北略 "Northern campaigns during the Ming period" 明 (1368-1644) is dealing with the history of China's northern border territories during the last part of the Ming period. The author of the 24-juan long book is Ji Liuqi 計六奇 (1622-1656), courtesy name Yongbin 用賓, style Tianjiezi 天節子 or Jiufeng Jushi 九峰居士, from Wuxi 無錫, Jiangsu. He also wrote a history of the Southern Ming dynasty (1644-1661), the Mingji nanlüe 明季南略.

The Mingji beilüe is a very detailed account of what happened after the rise of the Manchu khan Nurhaci (Qing Taizu 清太祖, r. 1616-1626) in 1595, how the Ming failed to control the northern regions, and how Li Zicheng 李自成 (1606-1645) was able to conquer the Ming capital Beijing.

The book is quite reliable because of the short time distance between the events and the compilation but it suffers from historiographic shortcomings by including popular tales. Unfortunately it was included among the list of books to be destroyed as anti-Manchu during the so-called literary inquisition during the late Qianlong reign-period 乾隆 (1736-1795) but luckily was not destroyed and survived in the shape of unprinted manuscripts. In the mid-19th century a first print was produced by a scholar called Bansong Jushi 半松居士 from Liulichang 琉璃廠 near Beijing. Yet it must be doubted if the book he had printed was the original version. This version was reprinted several times before an original manuscript was found which was more than 40 chapters longer than the Bansong jushi version. This manuscript was reprinted in 1984 by the Zhonghua Book Company 中華書局.

Sources:
Ding Xiaozhi 丁孝智 (1994). "Mingji beilüe 明季北略", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Lishi 歷史卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 329.
Gao Wende 高文德, ed. (1995). Zhongguo shaoshu minzu shi da cidian 中國少數民族史大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin jiaoyu chubanshe), 1407.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 890.
Ren Daobin 任道斌 (1992). "Mingji beilüe 明季北略", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, 689.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 496.
Zhang Pingren 張平仁 (2004). "Mingji beilüe, Mingji nanlüe dui shishi xiaoshuo de cailu 《明季北略》、《明季南略》對时事小說的采錄", Wenxian 文獻, 2004 (7).
Zhongguo fanglüe congshu 中國方略叢書 (Chengwen Publishing), www.chengwen.com.tw/tc/cat/str/guo12.htm.