An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Suikou jilüe 綏寇紀略 and Xubian suikou jilüe 續編綏寇紀略

Jul 11, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Suikou jilüe 綏寇紀略 "Military history of the tranquilization of the bandits" is a report of the peasant unrests during the last years of the Ming period 明 (1368-1644). It was written Wu Weiye 吳偉業 (1609-1671), courtesy name Jungong 駿公, style Meicun 梅村, who served as member in the Directorate of Education (guozijian 國子監) at the beginning of the Qing period 清 (1644-1911).

His book was finished in 1652 and originally had the title of Luqiao jiwen 鹿樵紀聞. It begins with the unrests in the province of Shaanxi (a region also known under the name of Suiyuan 綏遠) in the early Chongzhen reign-period 崇禎 (1628-1644) and ends with the downfall of the Ming in 1644. It is arranged in the historiographic style of "historical events in their entirety" (jishibenmo 紀事本末), each chapter dealing with one complete event from its beginning to the end. Each of the 12 juan ends with a historiographic assessment about the strengths and weaknesses of the acting persons. Additionally some sources are listed upon which Wu based his report. The last chapter, Yuyuanchen 虞淵沉, is structured quite differently than the others and might be of later date. It speaks of natural catastrophies. There are three supplementary chapters which were added in 1804.

The concise character of the Suikou jilüe makes it an important source for the history of the late years of the Ming dynasty. Especially the first chapter reporting the beginnings of the uprisings, and chapter 9 dealing with Li Zicheng's 李自成 (1606-1645) rebellion, are worth reading.

There was a print version published in 1674 by Zou Shijin 鄒式金 which is reproduced in the series Congshu jicheng 叢書集成.

The chapter Yuyuan chen is also published separately in a shape created in 1804 by Zhang Haipeng 張海鵬, who combed through the literary remains of Wu Weiye. Comparing these texts with an ancient edition owned by Xu Baqian 許八兼, Huang Tingjian 黃廷鑒 (1762-1842) revised these texts and published them in 1809 with the title Suikou jilüe buyi 綏寇紀略補遺, with a length of 3 juan, with the chapters Yuyuan chen B 虞淵沉中 (part A corresponding to ch. 12 of the main Suikou jilüe), Yuyuan chen C 虞淵沉下, and an appendix (Fuji 附紀). The B chapter includes unofficial stories from the Chongzhen reign-period 崇禎 (1628-1644), and the C chapter gives insight into the merits of officials who died for the cause of the Ming. The appendix is divided into many small chapters on the history of the Southern Ming. The earliest reference for the expression yuyuan 虞淵 is the song Yuanyou 遠遊 "The far-off journey", one of the collection Jiutan 九歎 "Nine Laments" of the Chuci 楚辭 "Poetry of the South" corpus.

In the 1992 edition (Shanghai Guji Press 上海古籍出版社) of the Suikou jilüe, the Buyi is included. Yuyuan chen as a separate chapter is found in the series Zhongguo yeshi jicheng 中國野史集成.

Table 1. Contents of Wu Weiye's 吳偉業 Suikou jilüe 綏寇紀略
1. 澠池渡 Mianchi du
2. 車箱困 Chexiang kun
3. 真寧恨 Zhenning hen
4. 朱陽潰 Zhuyang kui
5. 黑水擒 Moshui qin
6. 谷城變 Gucheng bian
7. 開縣敗 Kaixian bai
8. 汴渠墊 Bianqu zhi
9. 通城擊 Zongcheng ji
10. 鹽亭誅 Yanting zhu
11. 九江哀 Jiujiang ai
12. 虞淵沉 Yuyuan chen

Xubian suikou jilüe 續編綏寇紀略 is a history of the rebellions in the last years of the Ming period written by the historian Ye Mengzhu 葉夢珠, courtesy name Bangjiang 濱江, style Meiting 梅亭. He hailed from Shanghai and compiled, among others, written the book Yueshibian 閲世編.

The 5-juan long book Xubian suikou jilüe was written as a complement to Wu Meicun's 吳梅村 Suikou jilüe 綏寇紀略 and provides more information on a lot of incidents like Wu's book. Ye Mengzhu used for his complement sources like the Yeshilu 也是錄, Dian-Shu jiwen 滇蜀紀聞, and Mengzhong yishi 夢中遺事. He also took part in the compilation of the Jiashen chuanxin lu 甲申傳信錄 that is related to the events of the campaigns against Myanmar, where Zhang Xianzhong 張獻忠 (1606-1647), Sun Kewang 孫可望 (d. 1660) and the Yongli Emperor 永曆 (r. 1646-1661) had fled to. The book is divided into three chapters and has an appendix. It was printed by the Shenbao press 申報館.

Table 2. Contents of Ye Mengzhu's 葉夢珠 Xubian suikou jilüe 續編綏寇紀略
1. 蜀川沸 Shuchuan fu
2. 滇黔竄 Dian-Qian cuan
3. 爭挾王 Zhengjia wang
4. 緬甸散 Miandian san
Hu Yiya 胡一雅 (1992). "Suikou jilüe 綏寇紀略", 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, 1031.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 916.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Shenyang: Jinlin wenshi chubanshe), 829.