An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Shengwuji 聖武記

May 1, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Shengwuji 聖武記 "The Sacred Wars is a military history of the Manchus and the Qing dynasty 清 (1644-1911) written by the late Qing historian and politician Wei Yuan 魏源 (1794-1856). He wrote numerous books, of which the following shall be mentioned: Shuguwei 書古微, Shiguwei 詩古微, Haiguo tuzhi 海國圖志, Yuanshi xinbian 元史新編, Dongzi chunqiu fawei 董子春秋發微, Mogu 默觚, Chouhepian 籌河篇, Choucaopian 籌漕篇, Choucuopian 籌鹺篇. He also participated in the compilation of the Huang-Qing jingshi wenbian 皇朝經世文編, a collection of articles on statecraft.

The Shengwuji is probably is most famous book of Wei Yuan. It is 14-juan long and divided into two parts. The first parts narrates the conquest of China by the Manchus, the conquest of the three feudatories, the conquest of the Mongol territories, that of the Miao 苗 in southwestern China and the Uyghurs in the far west, fights against pirates, rebellions and uprisings, and wars against sectarian uprisings.

The second part gives an overview of many administrative aspects of the Qing period military, like the garrison system and the military pay, legal cases, reward of military merits, and so on. The book begins with the origin of the Manchus and ends in 1813 with the end of the rebellion of Lin Qing 林清 and Li Wensheng 李文成. The motivation of the second part is to analyse the elements of the Qing military system with the hope to find points that might be amended or strengthened to meet future challenges.

A great deal of Wei Yuan's book belongs to the category of early attempts at self-strengthening after the Qing dynasty experienced first signs of decay, for example, during the White Lotus 白蓮教 rebellion or the First Opium War. Modern Chinese scholars criticize Wei Yuan for statements that in the light of modern politics, seem unjustified, like his sentence that "Taiwan never belonged to China" before the conquest by the Qing.

In any case, the Shengwuji is a paean of praise for the military successes of the Qing dynasty and must therefore read carefully. In many points historical statements are oversimplifications. The Shengwuji nevertheless achieved great attention among contemporarians and experienced many editions. The Republican-period reprint of the edition from 1900 was enriched by a chapter called Daoguang yangsou zhengfu ji 道光洋艘征撫記 "The Subjugation by the Western Ships during the Daoguang Reign" (i.e. the First Opium War). In 1984 the Zhonghua Shuju Press 中華書局 published a modern edition, critically based on several contemporary editions.

Table 1. Contents of Wei Yuan's 魏源 Shengwuji 聖武記
1 開創 Kaichuang The foundation of the dynasty
開國龍興記 1-5 The dragon rises after the creation of the dynasty
2 藩鎮 Fanzhen Pacification of the local potentates
康熙勘定三藩記 1-2 Kangxi pacifies the Three Feudatories
3-6 外藩 Waifan Pacification of the outer barbarians
國朝綏服蒙古記 1-3 Pacification of the Mongols
康熙親征準噶爾記 Kangxi's personal campaigns against the Dzunghars
雍正兩征厄魯特記 Yongzheng's two campaigns against the Oyirads
乾隆蕩平準部記 Qianlong appeases the Dzunghars
乾隆勘定回疆記 Qianlong pacifies the Muslim borderland (Xinjiang)
乾隆綏服西屬國記 Qianlong subdues the western countries
乾隆新疆後事記 Qianlong's later campaigns in Xinjiang
道光重定回疆記 Daoguang's renewed pacification of the Muslim borderland (Xinjiang)
國朝撫綏西藏記 1-2 Early campaigns in Tibet
西藏後記 Later campaigns in Tibet
乾隆征廓爾喀記 Qianlong makes war against the Gorkhas (Nepal)
廓爾喀附記 Appendix to the Gorkha campaigns
國朝俄羅斯盟聘記 The early alliance with Russia
國初征撫朝鮮記 The pacification of Korea
乾隆征緬甸記 Qianlong's campaigns in Myanmar
乾隆征撫安南記 Qianlong's war in Annam
7 土司苗猺回民 Tusi he Miao-Yao, Huimin Native chieftains, the Miao-Yao, and the Muslims
雍正西南夷改流記 1-2 Yongzheng's transformation of native rule among the southwestern tribes
乾隆初征金川土司記 1 Qianlong's first war against the chieftains of Jinchuan
乾隆再征金川土司記 2 Qianlong's second war against the chieftains of Jinchuan
乾隆甘肅再征叛回記 Qianlong's second war against the Muslim rebels in Gansu
乾隆湖貴征苗記 Qianlong's war against the Miao in Hunan and Guizhou
道光湖粵平猺記 Daoguang's pacification of the Yao tribes in Hunan and Guangxi
8 海寇民變兵變 Haikou, minbian, bingbian Pirates, popular rebellions, mutinies
國初東南靖海記 The first pacification of the pirates in the southeast
康熙勘定臺灣記 Kangxi puts down the rebellion in Taiwan
康熙重定臺灣記 Kangxi pacifies Taiwan for the second time
乾隆三定臺灣記 Qinglong pacifies Taiwan for the third time
嘉慶東南靖海記 Jiaqing pacifies the pirates in the southeast
康熙武昌兵變記 Kangxi puts down the rebellion of Wuchang
嘉慶寧陝兵變記 Jiaqing puts down the mutiny in Gansu and Shaanxi
乾隆臨清剿賊記 Qianlong subdues the bandits of Linqing
9-10 教匪 Jiaofei Sectarian bandits
嘉慶川湖陝靖寇記 1-7 Jiaqing pacifies the bandits in Sichuan, Hunan, and Shaanxi
嘉慶畿輔靖變記 Jiaqing pacifies the disturbance in southern Shaanxi
11-14 武事餘記 Wushi yuji Other notes on military affairs
兵制兵餉 The military system and military pay and supply
掌故考證 Proves and examples from historical events
事功雜述 Miscellaneous discriptions of warfare
議武五篇 Five chapters discussing military affairs
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Masuda, Wataru (2000). "The Haiguo tuzhi and Shengwu ji by Wei Yuan", in Masuda Wataru, Joshua A. Fogel, eds. Japan and China: Mutual Representations in the Modern Era (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), 23-27.
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Zhou Weizhou 周偉洲, Ding Jingtai 丁景泰,ed. (2006). Sichou zhi lu da cidian 絲綢之路大辭典 (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe), 779.