An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Wanli sandazheng kao 萬曆三大征考

Jan 6, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Wanli sandazheng kao 萬曆三大征考 "Investigations into the three great campaigns of the Wanli Emperor" is a history of the military campaigns of the Wanli Emperor 萬曆 (Emperor Shenzong 明神宗, r. 1572-1619) written by the late Ming period 明 (1368-1644) historian Mao Ruizheng 茅瑞征 xxx, courtesy name Yuanyi 元儀, style Bofu 伯符, Shaoshang Yufu 苕上漁夫, Zhanbo Jushi 澹泊居士 or Qingyuan Jushi 清遠居士, from Gui'an 歸安, Zhejiang. He was first a secretary (zhushi 主事) in the Ministry of War (bingbu 兵部), took then over various tasks in the provincial administrations of Fujian and Hunan and was finally appointed Chief minister of the Court of Dependencies (honglusi qing 鴻臚寺卿). He left all government offices when he was slandered at the court and started dedicating his life to the study of history and politics. Mao also wrote the book Huang-Ming xiangxu lu 皇明象胥錄, a description of the non-Chinese peoples living around Ming China.

The first of the three campaigns described in this book was that of suppressing the rebellion of the Mongol prince Bobai 哱拜 (1526-1592) in Ningxia 寧夏 in 1592. The second campaign was the support of the Chosŏn dynasty 朝鮮 in Korea against the Japanese invasion which took seven years to fully expell the Japanese. In 1598, a third campaign was carried out against the rebellious Miao tribes 苗 under Yang Yinglong 楊應龍 in Bozhou 播州 (north of modern Zunyi 遵義, Guizhou).

The three wars consumed a tremendous amount of money, so that the author was not only interested in describing the course of history, but also to learn from the organisation of campaigns and the experience of battles to cope better with contemporary military matters like the containment of the Jianzhou Jurchens 建州女真 in Liaodong 遼東. He used various sources like memorials and edicts, miscellaneous notes and reports, and so constructs a very difficile overview of the martial activities of the Wanli Emperor. At the end of the book, maps of Ningxia, Japan and Bozhou are added.

The book was originally only available as a manuscript copy. This was published in facsimile in 1934 by the Yanjing University 燕京大學 in Beiping (modern Beijing).

Wu Feng 吳楓 (ed. 1987), Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), p. 46.
Zhongguo fanglüe congshu 中國方略叢書 (Chengwen Publishing),