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Prolegomena to the Ju-nan i-shih: A Memoir on the Last Chin Court Under the Mongol Siege of 1234

Prolegomena to the Ju-nan i-shih: A Memoir on the Last Chin Court Under the Mongol Siege of 1234

By Hok-lam Chan

Sung Studies Newsletter, No.10 (1974)

Introduction: In my earlier study on the historiography of the Chin dynasty (1115-1234) published in 1970, I took note of the contribution of three contemporary private historical writings to the source materials of the official Chin history (Chin-shih 金史) compiled under the auspices of the National History Office during the last reign of the Yüan dynasty (1260-1368) in 1344. I discussed in some detail the importance of the Chung-chou chi 中州集 of Yüan Hao-wen 元好問 (1190-1257) and the Kuei-ch’ien chih 歸潛志 of Liu Ch’i 劉 祁 (1203-1250). The former provides the principal biographical data for many littérateurs of the Ch’in period, and the latter supplies a mine of information on Chin history in general and in particular on the fall of the capital at Pien-liang 汴梁 to the Mongols in 1233. I have not given an adequate account, however, of the Ju-nan-i-shih 汝南遺事 of Wang O 王鶚 (1190-1273), a major source on the destruction of the Jürchen state by the Mongol invasion in early 1234. In this essay I wish to provide an assessment of this important work in the hope that even in this preliminary form, it will contribute to an understanding of the last days of the Chin court and of Wang O’s role in the composition of the official Chin history.

Ju-nan i-shih is a reminiscence on the events at the refuge Chin capital of Emperor Ai-tsung 哀宗 (r. 1224-1234) at Ts’ai-chou 蔡州 , southwest of modern Hsiang-ch’eng 項城 district, Honan, during the Mongol siege of July 1233 to February 1234, when it capitulated. The author, Wang O, a distinguished scholar-official of the late Chin and early Yüan who served Emperor Ai-tsung during this time, was a witness to the catastrophic fall of the capital and extinction of the Jürchen state. The title is taken from Ju-nan (“south of the River Ju”), the ancient name of the territorial administration that had overseen Ts’ai-chou since Han times. It contains four chüan with one hundred and seven entries, and is classified as a “miscellaneous history” (tsa-shih 雜 史) in the Ssu-k’u ch’üan-shu tsung-mu 四庫全書總目 compiled under imperial command in 1781. The narrative begins with Ai-tsung’s flight to Ts’ai-chou under the Mongol pressure on T’ien-hsing 天 興 2/6/6 (1234/7/14) and ends with an account of the tragic state of the beleaguered capital on T’ien-hsing 3/1/5/ (1234/2 4), five days before the emperor committed suicide on the eve of capitulation. These accounts are presented in a chronological order under appropriate headings and are interspersed with detailed notes elucidating the background of events and the individuals involved. According to the postface, Wang O drew upon the diary he kept during the siege as the primary source, and supplemented it with his recollections. He completed this memoir sometime during nine years of retreat (1234-1244) at Pao-chou 保州 (in modern Hopei) where he lived under the patronage of Chang Jou 張柔 (1190-1268), a senior commander of Chinese troops in the Mongol army who rescued Wang from certain execution when Ts’at-chou fell.

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