An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Dashiji 大事記 and Guochao dashiji 國朝大事記

Mar 15, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Dashiji 大事記 "Great historic events" is a universal history written by Lü Zuqian 呂祖謙 (1137–1181, courtesy name Bogong 伯恭) who took part in the compilation of the "veritable records" Huizong shiluHuangchao wenjian 皇朝文鑑 (Songwenjian 宋文鑑).

His plan was to compile a history beginning in the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE) and ending with the Five Dynasties 五代 (907-960). Illness prevented him from finishing this task, so that only the part on the Spring and Autumn period was finished in 1180.

The 12-juan long Dashiji is arranged in the way of a chronicle and covers the time from 481 to 90 BCE. It lists important historic events and the names of high state officials. Lü Zuqian used a great number of books as a source of information and added some comments to his chronological lists. The Dashiji is an easy-to-use handbook that includes important data about the central and local governments through the ages and can be used side by side with the official dynastic histories (zhengshi 正史). There is an appendix of 3 juan of important comments in ancient books (Tongshi 通釋 "Comprehensive explanations"), as well as a 12-juan long appendix (Jieti 解題 "Analysis of topics") containing a critical analysis of various statements in the sources Lü Zuqian had used.

The Ming period 明 (1368-1644) author Wang Yi 王禕 (1322 – 1373) wrote a sequel to Lü Zuqian's book, Dashiji xubian 大事記續編, with a length of 77 juan that covers the time down to the end of the Five Dynasties. It is found in the imperial collectanea Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

The oldest surviving edition of the Dashiji dates from 1212. It was printed at the beginning of the Ming period and then several times thereafter. The most widespread editions are to be found in the collectanea Jinhua congshu 金華叢書, Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編, Shuofu 說郛 (Wanwei shantang and Shangwu editions), and the Siku quanshu. A modern edition was published in 1987 by the Jiangsu Guangling guji press 江蘇廣陵古籍刻印社.

Table 1. Chapters of the Dashiji 大事記
1. 周敬王三十九年[起] Annals from King Jing of Zhou 39th year (481 BCE) to...
2. 周威烈王二十三年[起] King Weilie of Zhou 23th year (403 BCE) to...
3. 周顯王八年[起] King Xian of Zhou 8th year (361 BCE) to...
4. 周顯王四十四年[起] King Xian of Zhou 44th year (325 BCE) to...
5. 周赧王十九年[起] King Nan of Zhou 19th year (297 BCE) to...
6. 秦昭王五十二年[起] King Zhao of Qin 52th year (r. 307-251) to...
7. 秦始皇帝二十六年[起] The First Emperor of Qin 26 (221 BCE) to...
8. 秦二世皇帝元年[起] The Second Emperor of Qin 1 (209 BCE) to...
9. 漢太祖高皇帝五年[起] Emperor Gaozu of Han 5 (202 BCE) to...
10. 漢孝文皇帝元年[起] Emperor Wen of Han 1 (180 BCE) to...
11. 漢孝景皇帝二年[起] Emperor Jing of Han 2 (156 BCE) to...
12. 漢孝武皇帝建元六年[起至征和三年] Emperor Wu of Han, Jianyuan 6th year (135 BCE) [until Zhenghe 3rd year (90 BCE)]

Jin Xiangyu 金象豫 (dates unknown, courtesy name Jiegong 介公) wrote a similar text describing the prehistory and the foundation of the Qing dynasty 清 (1644-1911). The 12-juan long Guochao dashiji 國朝大事記 is only surviving as a manuscript. The fascicles 1-3 describe the rise of the Manchus in Liaodong 遼東, the fourth the conquest of Beijing under the Shunzhi Emperor 順治帝, fasc. 5-6 the regime of the regent Prince Dorgon, no. 7 that of the four princes Sonin 索尼 (d. 1667), Suksaha 蘇克薩哈 (d. 1667), Ebilun 遏必隆 (d. 1673) and Oboi 鼇拜 (d. 1669), scrolls 8-11 the war against the Three Feudatories, and the last the conquest of Taiwan. A modern edition of this text was published in 1995 by the Shanghai guji chubanshe 上海古籍出版社. It is also included in the collectanea Xuxiu siku quanshu 續修四庫全書).

Table 2. Chapters of the Guochao dashi ji 國朝大事記
1.-3. 遼左肇基紀略 Liao zuo zhao ji jilüe
"History of the Origins of the Empire in Liaozuo [i.e. Liaodong"
4. 世祖開國大政紀略 Shizu kaoguo dazheng jilüe
"History of the Great Foundation of the Empire by Emperor Shizu"
5.-6. 睿親王攝政始末 Rui qinwang shezheng shimo
"History of the Usurpation of Prince Rui [i.e. Dorgon]"
7. 四臣輔政始末 Sichen fuzheng shimo
"History of the Four Regents [Sonon, Suksaha, Ebilun, Oboi]"
8.-11. 三藩紀事本末 Sanfan jishi benmo
"History of the Three Feudatories"
12. 平定海寇紀事本末 Pingding haikou jishi benmo
"History of the War againt the Pirates [i.e. the Zheng family on Taiwan]"
Cheng Yingliu 程應鏐 (1992). "Xu zizhi tongjian changbian 續資治通鑒長編", in
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, 885.