An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Zizhi tongjian xubian 資治通鑑續編

Sep 16, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Zizhi tongjian xubian 資治通鑑續編 "Continuation to the Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government" is a continuation of Sima Guang's 司馬光 (1019–1086) history Zizhi tongjian 資治通鑑. It was compiled by Chen Cheng 陳檉 (late 13th cent., also known as Cheng Jing 陳桱, courtesy name Zijing 子經), who also compiled some other historiographical books, like Chidu quanti 尺牘筌蹄 (a kind of lexicon, Chen's authorship not certain).

The 24-juan long Xubian was written because the Zizhi tongjian and its critical reconstruction by Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200), the Tongjian gangmu 通鑑綱目, ended in the Five Dynasties period 五代 (907-960), and the continuation by Jin Lüxiang 金履祥 (1232–1303), the prehistory Zizhi tongjian qianbian 資治通鑑前編, only went back to the mythological emperor Yao 堯.

The first juan of the Xubian therefore goes farther back to the time of the mythological creator of the world, Pan Gu 盤古. The rest of the book describes the growing power of the steppe federation of the Kitans 契丹 during the Tang period 唐 (618-907) and their control over the Five Dynasties; the foundation of the Song dynasty 宋 (960-1279), its history and final demise during the Mongol conquest.

Chen Cheng's book is in first instance to be seen as a very critical history on the Song dynasty, their failure to control northern China and their lack of will to withstand the Mongols. "Defaitists" like Lü Wenhuan 呂文煥 (fl. 1268-1286), Zhang Shijie 張世杰 (d. 1279) and Cao Bin 曹彬 (931-999) are directly blamed for the downfall of the dynasties they were expected to defend, and even the founder of the Song, Emperor Taizu 宋太祖 (r. 960-975), is criticized.

The first juan narrates historiographically totally unreliable stories about the foundation of the world. A lot of facts concerning the Song period are not recorded in any other sources. These facts led to the repeated neglicence of the book by some scholars. Others treated it as a justified continuation of the Zizhi tongjian, even by Wang Zongmu 王宗沐 (1524-1592) and Xue Yingqi 薛應旂 (1500-1574), who wrote a proper continuation, Song-Yuan zizhi tongjian 宋元資治通鑑.

The oldest print of the Xubian was produced in 1362. There is a 20-juan long print of the Xinxian Studio 新賢書堂 from the Jiajing reign 嘉靖 (1522-1566), which is comparatively good. The Zizhi tongjian xubian is included in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 893.