An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Liaoshi jishi benmo 遼史紀事本末

Feb 14, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald

Liaoshi jishi benmo 遼史紀事本末 is a history of the Liao dynasty 遼 (907-1125) written by the late Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Li Youtang 李有棠 (1837-1905), courtesy name Feisheng 芾生. He hailed from Pingxiang 萍鄉, Jiangxi, and was a disciple in the Banner school (Baqi guanxue 八旗官學) and the Chinese class of the school of the Directorate of Education (Han guozijian xue 漢國子監學). He was then appointed assistant instructor (xundao 訓導) in Xiajiang 峽江, Jiangxi.

Interested in easy-to-read books on Chinese history, he regretted that there were not history books on the Liao and Jin 金 (1115-1234) dynasties written in the thematic style of "historical events in their entirety" (jijshi benmo 紀事本末), and therefore began himself to compile the missing texts. The results of this were the 40-juan long Liaoshi jishi benmo, and the Jinshi jishi benmo 金史紀事本末. The Liao history is divided into two parts, the first consisting of the text based on the official history Liaoshi 遼史, while the second part are critical comments (Kaoyi 考異) on sources whose statements differ from the "official" version. This part of of great help for the study of the history of the Liao, even if Li Youtang exaggerated somewhat in the abundance of sources he used and in the selection of untrustworthy material. Another shortcoming is that he did not include research on the administrative system of the Liao.

The book was printed in 1893, and then again in 1903. A modern edition was published in 1983 by the Zhonghua Shuju press 中華書局, along with the Liaoshi and the Qidan guo zhi 契丹國志. This edition is supplemented by an index of names of Kitan persons and their transcription in Yuan 元 (1279-1368) and Qing-period sources (Liaoshi reming Qing-Yuan yiyi duizhao biao 遼史人名清元異譯對照表).

Gao Wende 高文德, ed. (1995). Zhongguo shaoshu minzu shi da cidian 中國少數民族史大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin jiaoyu chubanshe), 662.
Jing Yi 經易 (1994). "Jinsh jishi benmo 金史紀事本末", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Lishi 歷史卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 211.
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, 923.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Chanchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 288.