An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Ming dazheng ji 明大政記

Feb 21, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald

Ming dazheng ji 明大政記 "Great politics of the Ming", original title Huang-Ming dazheng ji 皇明大政紀, is a chronicle written by Lei Li 雷禮 (1505-1581, courtesy name Bijin 必進, style Guhe 古和). He also wrote a kind of handbook on the early Ming period 明 (1368-1644), Ming liuchao suoyin 明六朝索引, and the biographic collection Lieqingji 列卿記 "Outstanding ministers".

The 25-juan long Dazhengji 大政記 consists of a core part written by Lei Li himself (20 juan, covering the time until the Zhengde reign 正德, 1506 – 1521), a supplement of 4 juan on the Jiajing reign compiled by Fan Shouji 范守己 (jinshi degree 1574), and a further juan on the Longqing reign 隆慶 (1567 – 1572), authored by Tan Xisi 譚希思 (1542-1623). In this shape, the text was printed in 1602 by Zhou Shitai 周時泰, and again during the Chongzhen reign 崇禎 (1628-1644).

The text is enriched by commentaries, and follows the pattern of Zhu Xi's 朱熹 (1130-1200) critical history Tongjian gangmu 通鑑綱目. Lei Li's sources were mainly the "veritable records" (shilu 實錄) of the Ming, but his treatment of these is not rated as very outbalanced, because some passages are very detailed, and others too brief. A further problem is that the table of contents does not reflect the content of the chapters. The text was therefore not highly estimated by historians, and is not included in the imperial collectanea Siku quanshu 四庫全書. It is included in the collectanea Siku quanshu cunmu congshu 四庫全書存目叢書 and Xuxiu siku quanshu 續修四庫全書.

There were two more books with the same title, namely the 10-juan long Dazhengji by Zheng Xiao 鄭曉 (1499-1566, courtesy name Zhifu 窒甫), and the book by Zhu Guozhen 朱國禎 (1557-1632, courtesy name Wenning 文寧, style Pingji 平極 or Jiu'an jushi 虯庵居士). Zhu's 36-juan long book covers the time from 1368 to 1572. Historians criticise this text as too unscholarly. It is found in Zhu's collectanea Huang-Ming shigai congshu 皇明史概叢書.

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, 900.
Wu Feng, ed. 吳楓 (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Jilin: Changchun wenshi chubanshe), 642.