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Beishi 北史

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The Beishi 北史 "History of the Northern Dynasties" (386~581) is a one-book parallel to the the official dynastic histories (zhengshi 正史) of the Northern Wei dynasty 北魏 (386-534, the Weishu 魏書), its two short-lived successor dynasties of the Northern Qi 北齊 (550-577, the Beiqishu 北齊書) and (Northern) Zhou 北周 (557-581, the Zhoushu 周書), and the Sui dynasty 隋 (581-618, the Suishu 隋書). It was written by the Tang period 唐 (618-907) scholar Li Yanshou 李延壽. The part covering the Northern Wei comprises 5 juan "scrolls" of imperial biographies (benji 本紀), that of the Qi 3 juan, that of the Zhou 2 juan, and that of the Sui 2 juan. There are 88 juan of normal and collective biographies (liezhuan 列傳). The time frame ranges from 386, the year of the foundation of the Wei empire, until 618, when the Sui dynasty was overthrown. The book was completed in 643. Some chapters are lost, like the biography of emperor Sui Yangdi 隋煬帝 (r. 604-617), which was later supplemented by that from the Suishu.
It is very useful to use both the Beishi and its counterpart about the Southern Dynasties 南朝 (420~589), the Nanshi 南史, also written by Li Yanshou. Li's family came from the north, and many stories are not that detailed, so that in the other dynastic histories the Beishi is quoted far less than the Nanshi. Unlike in the Weishu, the western branch of the dynasty (the so-called Western Wei dynasty 西魏, 535-556) was seen by Li Yanshou as the righteous claimant of the Heavenly mandate, and not the Eastern Wei 東魏 (534-550).

Source: Zhou Yiliang 周一良 (1992), "Beishi 北史", 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. 1, p. 33.

July 15, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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