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Tongjian jishi benmo 通鑑紀事本末

Jul 3, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Tongjian jishi benmo 通鑑紀事本末 "Historical events of the Comprehensive Mirror in their entirey" is a rearrangement of the chronicle Zizhi tongjian 資治通鑑 of Sima Guang 司馬光 (1019-1086). The Tongjian jishi benmo was written by Yuan Shu 袁樞 (1131-1205, courtesy name Jizhong 機仲). In this type of history particular historic events are arranged around certain central themes. This makes it much easier to understand the origins of certain developments and their results, than a simple chronological arrangement (biannianti 編年體) as used in the Zizhi tongjian, or the arrangement of history in the shape of biographies (jizhuanti 紀傳體) like in the official dynastic histories.

The 142-juan long Tongjian jishi benmo comprises 1,362 separate historic events in their entirety, beginning with the dissolution of the ancient feudal state of Jin 晉 by the marquesses of Han 韓, Wei 魏 and Zhao 趙 in 403 BCE (San jia fen Jin 三家分晉 "The Three Houses divide Jin among themselves"), and ends with the foundation of the Song dynasty 宋 (960-1279) in 960 (Shizong zheng Huainan 世宗征淮南 "Emperor Shizong conquers the region of Huainan").

These events are arranged in 239 chapters, with 66 additional chapters appended to some of the main chapters, making out a total of 305 chapters. During the compilation process, Yuan Shu made use of the cut-and-paste method and rearranged paragraphs of the Zizhi tongjian, but in such a refined way that the reader is not aware that the text was actually not compiled as a coherent narrative, but in a potpourri method. The content concentrates on event history and neglects a lot of other interesting aspects, like politics, administration and economy.

The Tongjian jishi benmo was first printed in 1176. There is a commentary written for each chapter. It was compiled by the late Ming period 明 (1368-1644) historian Zhang Pu 張溥 (1602-1641). The most common version of the Tongjian jishi benmo is that of the Zhonghua Book Company 中華書局 from 1955.

Yuan Shu's Tongjian jishi benmo proved so useful and easy-to-read that it became the ancestor of a throughly new tradition of historiography, the jishi benmo 紀事本末 type. It combined the style of the dynastic histories (duandaishi 斷代史) with Yuan Shu's multi-dynasty history (tongshi 通史). Examples of this genre are Songshi jishi benmo 宋史紀事本末 by Feng Qi 馮琦 (b. 1558, jinshi degree 1577) or Mingshi jishi benmo 明史紀事本末 by Gu Yingtai 谷應泰 (1620-1690).

During the Guangxu reign 光緒 (1875-1908) of the Qing period 清 (1644-1911), two collectanea were published that included a large number of histories written in the style of "historical events in their entirety". The first was Lichao jishi benmo 歷朝紀事本末, compiled and published in 1899 (repr. 1910) by Chen Rusheng 陳如升 (dates unkown) and Zhu Jirong 朱記榮 (1836-1905), and the second the Jishi benmo huike 紀事本末彙刻 published by the Guangya Publishing House 廣雅書局 in 1900.

Table 1. Lichao jishi benmo 歷朝紀事本末 by (Qing) Chen Rusheng 陳如升, Zhu Jirong 朱記榮 (comp.)
左傳紀事本末 五十三卷 Zuozhuan jishi benmo (Qing) 高士奇 Gao Shiqi
通鑑紀事本末 二百三十九卷 Tongjian jishi benmo (Song) 袁樞 Yuan Shu,
(Ming) 張溥 Zhang Pu (comm.)
通鑑長編紀事本末一百五十卷 Tongjian changbian jishi benmo (Song) 楊仲良 Yang Zhongliang
宋史紀事本末 一百零九卷 Songshi jishi benmo (Ming) 馮琦 Feng Qi,
(Ming) 陳邦瞻 Chen Bangzhan (rev.),
(Ming) 張溥 Zhang Pu (comm.)
遼史紀事本末 四十卷 Liaoshi jishi benmo (Qing) 李有棠 Li Youtang
金史紀事本末 五十二卷 Jinshi jishi benmo (Qing) 李有棠 Li Youtang
西夏紀事本末 三十六卷 Xixia jishi benmo (Qing) 張鑑 Zhang Jian
元史紀事本末 二十七卷 Yuanshi jishi benmo (Ming) 陳邦瞻 Chen Bangzhan
(Ming) 張溥 Zhang Pu (comm.)
明史紀事本末 八十卷 Mingshi jishi benmo (Qing) 谷應泰 Gu Yingtai
三藩紀事本末 二十二卷 Sanfan jishi benmo (Qing) 陳陸榮 Chen Lurong
Source: Shanghai tushuguan 上海圖書館, ed. (1982). Zhongguo congshu zonglu 中國叢書綜錄 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe), Vol 1, 639.
Table 2. Jishi benmo huike 紀事本末彙刻 by (Qing) Guangya Printing House 廣雅書局 (comp.)
左傳紀事本末 五十三卷 Zuozhuan jishi benmo (Qing) 高士奇 Gao Shiqi
通鑑紀事本末 二百三十九卷 Tongjian jishi benmo (Song) 袁樞 Yuan Shu,
(Ming) 張溥 Zhang Pu (comm.)
通鑑長編紀事本末一百五十卷 (missing 6-7, 114-119) Tongjian changbian jishi benmo (Song) 楊仲良 Yang Zhongliang
宋史紀事本末 一百零九卷 Songshi jishi benmo (Ming) 馮琦 Feng Qi,
(Ming) 陳邦瞻 Chen Bangzhan (rev.),
(Ming) 張溥 Zhang Pu (comm.)
遼史紀事本末 四十卷 Liaoshi jishi benmo (Qing) 李有棠 Li Youtang
金史紀事本末 五十二卷 Jinshi jishi benmo (Qing) 李有棠 Li Youtang
元史紀事本末 二十七卷 Yuanshi jishi benmo (Ming) 陳邦瞻 Chen Bangzhan
(Ming) 張溥 Zhang Pu (comm.)
明史紀事本末 八十卷 Mingshi jishi benmo (Qing) 谷應泰 Gu Yingtai
Source: Shanghai tushuguan 上海圖書館, ed. (1982). Zhongguo congshu zonglu 中國叢書綜錄 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe), Vol 1, 639.

Not included in these collectanea are Zhang Chong's 章沖 (fl. 1180) Chunqiu-Zuozhuan shilei shimo 春秋左傳事類始末, Chen Bangzhan's Mingchao jishi benmo bubian 明朝紀事本末補編, Shen Chaoyang's 沈朝陽 (early 17th cent.) Tongjian qianbian jishi benmo 通鑑前編紀事本末 (Jishi benmo qianbian 紀事本末前編), Ma Su's 馬驌 (1621-1673) Yishi 繹史 and Zuozhuan shiwei 左傳事緯, Zhang Xingyao's 張星曜 (1633-c. 1711) Tongjian jishi benmo bu houbian 通鑑紀事本末補後編, Ni Zaitian's 倪在田 (1842-1916) Xu Ming jishi benmo 續明紀事本末, Sun Yirang's 孫詒讓 (1848-1908) Mingchao jishi benmo bubian 明朝紀事本末補編, Li Mingmo's 李銘模 (fl. 1885–1905) Xu zizhi tongjian gangmu jishi benmo 續資治通鑑綱目紀事本末, and Huang Hongshou's 黃鴻壽 (fl. 1915) Qingshi jishi benmo 清史紀事本末.

In 1996, Wang Liansheng 王連升 published a comprehensive history of China with the title Lichao jishi benmo.

The Tongjian jishi benmo is included in the imperial collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and the collection Sibu congkan 四部叢刊.

Sources:
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, 901.
Wu Feng, ed. 吳楓 (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Jilin: Changchun wenshi chubanshe), 499.