An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Qingshilu 清實錄

Jul 3, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Da-Qing lichao shilu 大清歷朝實錄, short title Qingshilu 清實錄 "Veritable records of the Qing dynasty" is a chronologically arranged collection of so-called "veritable records" (shilu 實錄), the most important edicts issued during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911), through 11 reigns, and in 12 parts (including the Manzhou shilu 滿洲實錄 "Veritable records of the Manchus") with a total length of 4,404 juan.

Through history it had been common that on the accession to the throne an emperor ordered compiling the "veritable records" of his predecessor. A specialized office called shiluguan 實錄館 was established for the compilation, and the work had to be overseen by a Grand Minister (dachen 大臣), assisted by members of the Hanlin Academy (Hanlinyuan 翰林院) which produced the secretarial staff of the imperial court. The compiling team made use of a vast amount of imperial diaries (qijuzhu 起居注) recording the day-to-day routine activities of the emperor, and of memorials, edicts and a document drafts stored in the archives.

There were three versions of each of the Qing veritable records, written in the three languages Chinese, Manchurian, and Mongolian, each in five copies (the Mongolian version only four). These were called the four "main versions" (zhengben 正本), and the "appendant version" (fuben 副本). Of the main versions one was stored in the Capital Archive (huangshicheng 皇史宬), one in the Chongmo Hall 崇謨閣 in the imperial palace in Mukden (Shenyang 瀋陽, Liaoning) — these two versions are also called da hongling ben 大紅綾本 "versions with the large damask (lining)" —, the third version was stored in the Qianqing Palace 乾清宮 and the fourth in the library of the Imperial Secretariat (neige 内閣), the last two places being located in the Forbidden City. The latter two versions had a "small red damask lining".

The "appendant version", with a "small yellow damask lining" was also stored in the Imperial Secretariat. The first print version was published in 1936 by the Japanese Daizō shuppansha 大藏出版社, together with the unofficial records of the Xuantong period 宣統 (1909-1911), Xuantong zhengji 宣統政記. The publication was called Da-Qing lichao shilu 大清歷朝實錄 "Veritable records of the Great Qing through all reign periods" and consists of 1,210 volumes. This is the most widespread edition.

Another modern publication was edited by the Zhonghua Book Company 中華書局. For this edition a detailed textual critique was comiled by comparing all different existing versions.

The three first parts of the Qingshilu were revised several times. In 1683 the Taizu shilu 太祖實錄 (basic version issued in 1636) and the Taizong shilu 太宗實錄 (basic version issued in 1652) were revised, in 1734 both records, as well as the Shizu shilu 世祖實錄 (basic version issued in 1667), were again revised and obtained the shape they are now known with. The original version was discovered later and printed in the 1930s, with the name Qing Taizu Wu Huangdi Nu'erhachi shilu 清太祖武皇帝努爾哈赤實錄 "Veritable records of Emperor Qing Taizu, the Martial Emperor Nurhaci", in 4 juan, while the revised version was given the title Qing Taizu Nu'erhachi shilu 清太祖努爾哈赤實錄 "Veritable records of Qing Taizu Nurhaci", in 10 juan.

Fig 1. Example from the Qingshilu 清實錄
Example from Da-Qing Shengzu Ren Huangdi (Kangxi) shilu 大清聖祖仁皇帝(康熙)實錄, juan 212, fol. 9. Jiaqing edition. The first full entry is a repeated submission of a proposal after discussion (yifu 議覆 in the Ministry of War (bingbu 兵部). The memorial deals with the investiture of the son of native chieftain (tusi 土司). The second text, dated jihai 己亥, is an imperial edict (yuzhi 諭旨) concerning extraordinary allowances to the members of the Eight Banners (baqi 八旗).

The revisions of the Kangxi reign 康熙 (1662-1722) were edited by the Republican period scholar Luo Zhenyu 羅振玉 (1866-1940) with the title Kangxi chongxiu Taizu shilu san zhong 康熙重修太祖實錄三種 "The three versions of the Veritable Records of Qing Taizu as revised during the Kangxi reign", as well as by the Japanese scholars Murayama Shiu 邨山芝塢 (1758-1820), with the title Daishin sanchō jiryaku 大淸三朝事略 and Nagane Hyosai 永根氷斎 (1765-1838) with the title Shin sanchō jitsuroku saiyō 清三朝實録採要. The different verisons have to be compared with each other when studying the early history of the Manchu dynasty.

An additional source that can not be neglected for this period of time is the collection Donghualu 東華錄 "Records from the Eastern Flower (Gate)". This is also true for the latest parts of the "Veritable records", especially the Dezong shilu 德宗實録, which is, as a source, of minor quality than the Guangxu chao donghua lu 光緒朝東華錄.

The Qingshilu, although an important treasury of primary sources for the Qing period, only represents a very small part of all documents that went to and fro at the Qing court and between the capital and the provinces. It is emperor-centered and can by no means, inspite of its largeness, give a complete picture of the functioning of the Qing government. Like many historical sources of the Qing that were officially acknowledged or issued, it serves to praise the emperors and the dynasty.

Table 1. Parts of the Da-Qing lichao shilu 大清歷朝實錄
大清滿洲實錄 八卷 Da-Qing Manzhou shilu 1583-1626, ed. 1635, rev. 1781 (bilingual Manchu-Chinese)
大清太祖高皇帝實錄 十卷 Da-Qing Taizu Gao Huangshi shilu 1583-1626, ed. 1739
大清太宗文皇帝實錄 六十五卷 Da-Qing Daizong Wen Huangdu shilu 1626-1643, ed. 1739
大清世祖章皇帝(順治)實錄 一百四十四卷 Da-Qing Shizu Zhang Huangdi shilu 1643-1661 (Shunzhi), ed. 1739
大清聖祖仁皇帝(康熙)實錄 三百卷 Da-Qing Shengzu Ren Huangdi shilu 1661-1722 (Kangxi), ed. 1741
大清世宗憲皇帝(雍正)實錄 一百五十九卷 Da-Qing Shizong Xian Huangdi shilu 1722-1735 (Yongzheng), ed. 1741
大清高宗純皇帝(乾隆)實錄 一千五百卷 Da-Qing Gaozong Chun Huangdi shilu 1735-1799 (Qianlong and until the death of the emperor), ed. 1807
大清仁宗睿皇帝(嘉慶)實錄 三百七十四卷 Da-Qing Renzong Rui Huangdi shilu 1796-1820 (Jiaqing), ed. 1878
大清宣宗成皇帝(道光)實錄 四百七十六卷 Da-Qing Xuanzong Cheng Huangdi shilu 1820-1850 (Daoguang), ed. 1856
大清文宗顯皇帝(咸豐)實錄 三百五十六卷 Da-Qing Wenzong Xian Huangdi shilu 1850-1861 (Xianfeng), ed. 1866
大清穆宗毅皇帝(同治)實錄 三百七十四卷 Da-Qing Muzong Yi Huangdi shilu 1861-1874 (Tongzhi), ed. 1879
大清德宗景皇帝(光緒)實錄 五百九十七卷 Da-Qing Dezong Jing Huangdi shilu 1874-1908 (Guangxu), ed. 1927
大清宣統政紀 七十卷 Da-Qing Xuantong zhengji 1908-1911 (Xuantong), ed. 1934
大清歷朝實錄總目 四卷 Da-Qing lichao shilu zongmu Index
Gao Wende 高文德, ed. (1995). Shaoshu minzu shi da cidian 中國少數民族史大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin jiaoyu chubanshe), 2109.
Shi Zhihong 史志宏 (1992). "Qingshilu 清實錄", 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, 842.
Wang Yuguang 王余光, Xu Yan 徐雁, ed. (1999). Zhongguo dushu da cidian 中國讀書大辭典 (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe), 1223.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 799.