An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Song zaifu biannian lu 宋宰輔編年錄

Mar 21, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Song zaifu biannian lu 宋宰輔編年錄 "Chronicle of Song-period chief ministers" is a chronicle of the highest state officials of the Song period 宋 (960-1279). The book of 20 juan was compiled during the late Song period by Xu Ziming 徐自明 (jinshi degree 1178), courtesy name Chengfu 誠甫, style Zaotang 慥堂, who has wrote the local gazetteers Lingling zhi 零陵志 and Fuguang tuzhi 浮光圖志.

The Zaifu biannian lu covers almost the whole Song period until 1215 and lists counsellors-in-chief (zaixiang 宰相), vice counsellors (fuxiang 副相), and the Commissioners of Military Affairs (shumishi 樞密使). To all persons, the circumstance of their appointment and retirement are described, as well as a short biography with a eulogy conduct description (xingzhuang 行狀).

The sources of this book were the histories like Xu zizhi tongjian changbian 續資治通鑒長編, Jianyan yilai xinian yaolu 建炎以來系年要錄, Song da zhaoling ji 宋大詔令集, but also numerous private historiographical writings like Dongdu shilüe 東都事略 or Dingweilu 丁未錄.

Some sources have disappeared since and are only preserved fragmentarily in this book. The Tongjian changbian, for instance, has only survived in fragments in the Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) encyclopaedia Yongle dadian 永樂大典, but the Song zaifu biannian lu includes more information than in these parts. The structure of Xu Ziming's book is very clear and well-organised.

The oldest print is preserved as quotations in the Yongle dadian, and the oldest surviving fulltext dates from the Wanli reign-period 萬曆 (1573-1619). It is included in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Jingxianglou congshu 敬鄉樓叢書. Wang Ruilai 王瑞來 wrote an commented modern version that was published in 1986 by the Zhonghua shuju press 中華書局.

Xu Song zaifu biannian lu 續宋宰輔編年錄 is a supplement to Xu Ziming's list of Song-period chief counsellors. The 26-juan long supplement was written during the Ming period by Lü Bangyao 呂邦耀 (jinshi degree 1601), courtesy name Yuantao 元韜 and a member of the Brocade Guards (jinyiwei 錦衣衛) who not only printed Xu's book but also expanded it, covering the years from 1216 to the end of the Song period.

Although Lü Bangyao imitated the structure of Xu's book, it is only a very short and concise addition to the missing 60 years and does only provide crude – and sometimes even wrong – biographic information to the persons. Lü's supplement was printed during the Tianqi reign-period 天啟 (1621-1627) and is appended to Xu's text in the imperial series Siku quanshu. It is also included in Wang Ruilai's 王瑞來 commentary on Xu's book.

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, 1419, 1420.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 441.