An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Lidai mingchen zouyi 歷代名臣奏議

Mar 1, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Lidai mingchen zouyi 歷代名臣奏議 "Memorials of famous ministers of all ages" is a collection of important memorials to the throne through all ages until the end of the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368). The 350-juan long book was compiled by the Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) scholars Huang Huai 黄淮 (1367-1449) and Yang Shiqi 楊士奇 (1365-1444), personal name Yang Yu 楊寓, and was submitted to the throne in 1416.

The book is divided into 64 chapters that give a crude overview of the topic of the memorials. Some older texts included in this collection are actually not memorials but discussions of politicians and their advisors, like King Wen 周文王 of the Zhou dynasty 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE), the Duke of Zhou 周公, Duke Tai of Qi 齊太公, Confucius 孔子, Guan Zhong 管仲 (725-645) or Yan Ying 晏嬰 (578-500).

From the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) part on, the texts are in fact memorials that are concerned with all possible themes of statecraft and using the most important arguments of failure and success in the past. The book was therefore planned to serve as a handbook on politics and a supplement to the history book Zizhi tongjian 資治通鑒 and the institutional histories Tongdian 通典, Tongzhi 通志, and Wenxuan tongkao 文獻通考.

The book was printed in a small edition to be distributed in the official academies, yet prohibited for personal use. Zhang Fu 張溥 (1602-1641), living at the end of the Ming period, nevertheless owned a private copy, and another copy was found in Taiyuan 太原 (modern Taiyuan, Shanxi) that was different from that of Zhang Pu. While the latter had a chapter more on grain transport on the Grand Canal, the Taiyuan version included a chapter more on penal law. The most reliable version is one from the Yongle reign-period 永樂 (1403-1424) that was printed as a facsimile in 1987 by the Shanghai Guji Press 上海古籍出版社.

The Lidai mingchen zouyi is included in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Table 1. Contents of the Lidai mingchen zouyi 歷代名臣奏議
1-5 君徳 Junde The virtue of the sovereign
6-9 聖學 Shengxue The teachings of the Saints
10-12 孝親 Xiaoqin Filiality and kindness to relatives
13 敬天 Jingtian Respecting Heaven
14-22 郊廟 Jiaomiao Sacrificial altars and temples
23-68 治道 Zhidao Regulating the Way [of rule]
69-70 法祖 Fazu Taking ancestors as a model
71-73 儲嗣 Chusi Preparing succession
74-75 內治 Neizhi Order in the palace
76-77 宗室 Zongshi The imperial house
78-101 經國 Jingguo Order in the empire
102 守成 Shoucheng Defence
103 都邑 Duyi (Capital) cities
104 封建 Fengjian Investiture in titles of nobility
105-109 仁民 Renmin Benevolence towards the people
110-111 務農 Wunong Taking agriculture as a [fundamental] duty
112 田制 Tianzhi Field system
113-115 學校 Xuexiao Schools
116-117 風俗 Fengsu Customs and style
118-128 禮樂 Liyue Rituals and music
129-152 用人 Yongren Employment of [competent] persons
153 求賢 Qiuxian The search for worthies
154-158 知人 Zhiren Knowing persons
159-162 建官 Jianguan Establishing offices
163-170 選舉 Xuanju Promotion of graduates
171-172 考課 Kaoke Evaluation of state officials
173-186 去邪 Quxie Discarding depraved things
187-189 賞罰 Shangfa Reward and punishment
190 勤政 Qinzheng Diligence in politics
191-192 節儉 Jiejian Austerity and modesty
193-194 戒佚欲 Jie yiyu Warning against indolence and dissoluteness
195 戒逸欲 Jie yiyu Warning against indulgence and dissoluteness
196 慎微 Shenwei Attentiveness to small things
197-198 謹名器 Qin mingqi Respecting title and insignia
199-200 求言 Qiuyan Seeking for advice
201-207 聽言 Tingyan Listening to the words [of ministers]
208-214 法令 Faling Laws and orders
215-217 慎刑 Shenxing Prudence in penalties
218 赦宥 Sheyou Amnesties
219-224 兵制 Bingzhi Military system
225 宿衛 Suwei Palace guards
226-235 征伐 Zhengfa Military campaigns
236-241 任將 Renjiang Appointment of generals
242 馬政 Mazheng Horse administration
243-248 荒政 Huangzheng Disaster relief
249-253 水利 Shuili Hydraulic works
254-259 賦役 Fuyi Taxes and corvée
260 屯田 Tuntian Military agro-colonies
261 漕運 Caoyun Tribute grain transport
262-273 理財 Licai Financial management
274 崇儒 Chongru The veneration of Confucians
275 經籍 Jingji Bibliographies (?)
276-277 國史 Guoshi Dynastic history
278-280 律歴 Lüli Pitch pipes and calendar
281-282 諡號 Yihao Posthumous designations
283-284 褒贈 Baozeng Praise and reward
285-286 禮臣 Lichen Officials entrusted with the performance of rituals
287 巡幸 Xunxing Inspection tours
288-289 外戚 Waiqi Relatives of empresses
290 寵倖 Chongxing Favourites and minions
291-293 近習 Jinxi Persons close to the sovereign
294 封禪 Fengshan Sacrifices to Heaven and Earth on Mt. Taishan
295-314 災祥 Zaixiang Natural disasters
315-316 營繕 Yingshan Construction work
317-319 弭盗 Midao Suppression of bandits
320-339 禦邊 Yubian Border defence
340 四裔 Siyi The barbarians of the four directions
Cao Xichen 曹喜琛 (1992). "Lidai mingchen zouyi 歷代名臣奏議", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Vol. Tushuxuanxue qingbaoxue dang'anxue 圖書館學·情報學·檔案學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), 245.
Gu Jichen 顧吉辰 (1992). "Lüelun Lidai mingchen zouyi de lishi jiazhi 略論《歷代名臣奏議》的歷史價值", Xueshu yuekan 學術月刊, 1992 (7).
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, 962.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 121.
Yuan Zhaofeng 袁兆春 (1996). "Lidai mingchen zouyi 歷代名臣奏議", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Zhengzhi falü 政治法律卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 363.
Zhang Yan 張岩 (1995). "Zhizheng zhi dao, qiangu yi jian: Ping Lidai mingchen zouyi 致治之道 千古一鑒—評《歷代名臣奏議》", Zhida xuekan 職大學刊, 1995 (11).