Entry

Hong-wu: Year 29, Month 2, Day 2

11 Mar 1396

Next Entry >>
<< Previous Entry

The Messengers Li Si-cong and Qian Gu-xun were sent as envoys to the country of Burma (緬國) and to the Bai-yi. The Imperial proclamation to the king of the country of Burma read: "The roads are long and dangerous, the mountains and rivers present great obstacles and your customs and practices are different. These situations were created by Heaven and fixed by Earth. You have been diligent in sending an envoy on the long and dangerous journey, to cross neighbouring states, to rush through mist and push through fog, to push onward at dawn and not rest till dusk, and to suffer the wind and the cold until he reached China. It is indeed a difficult journey. The ancients had a saying: `When a superior man wishes to undertake some matter at a distant place, even though it be more than a thousand li away, spirit will communicate and intent will be understood.' Now, from 10,000 li distant, you have diligently sent an envoy over such a distance. This demonstration of worthiness would have been extraordinary in the past, and is quite singular today. At this time, however, in the matters of resolving your difficulties and dispelling your disputes, my Imperial wish is nothing more that that I could, by commanding it, bring an end to the problems, allowing both sides to be done with warfare, so as to preserve your people's happiness both in the towns and throughout the countryside. The people of your two countries, although living in their separate places, could live in peace with nothing more required than the maintenance of careful inspections at the border passes and markets. Yet if you continue to quarrel and fight without end, Heaven will observe and, sooner or later without fail, will bring prosperity to the good and calamity to the wanton. Upon the receipt of these orders, you must closely examine your actions." The Burmese heeded the orders. The envoys then proceeded to present an Imperial proclamation to Si Lun-fa. The proclamation read: "I have followed the ancient Chinese sages who reined in the stubborn and favoured the virtuous, in accordance with regulations and statutes. As the sages continued in succession, these practices were maintained and observed. Thus, those above and those below were at peace. The people were happy in their work and the rulers of the states respected and stood in awe. Their prosperity was passed on from generation to generation and the illustriousness of their states continued unbroken. If any state dared to take advantage of weakness to attack another isolated state, the Son of Heaven would send troops to take over its lands. If a state injured the virtuous and harmed the people, the Son of Heaven would also send troops to punish it. If a state was cruel internally and oppressive externally, the Son of Heaven would raise an army to unseat its ruler and replace him. If a state let the land go to waste and the people disperse, the Son of Heaven would use troops to seize the territory. If a state, trusting in its defences would not submit, the Son of Heaven would raise troops to invade it. If a person criminally murdered his kinsman for no reason, he would be killed to pay for his crime. If a minister drove off or killed his lord, he would be executed in reflection of his crime. If a person violated the law and abused his state's authority, he would be placed under interdiction and not allowed intercourse with other states. If a person upset the natural order between the internal and the external, and acted in ways worthy only of animals, he would be destroyed. These were the nine types of punitive expeditions. You, Si Lun-fa, are subject to these nine punitive expeditions. You should be punished for the crime of taking advantage of weakness to attack an isolated state. Why is this so said? Every year you have used troops in attacking Che-li and in frequently invading and plundering Ba-bai. You have also relied on your strength to attack Burma and Jia-li. They are small states and their people few and now you have taken them. As for China, its territory extends to the yi in the four directions, and its lands adjoin the territories of the various chieftains and headmen. However, I have never taken advantage of my strength to oppress or bully them or to eliminate their heirs. The territory of Yun-nan is already ours. It may appear that it was taken by force. This is not so. The Liang Prince, who was the grandson of the Yuan Emperor Shi-zu [Khubilai Khan], using his status as a descendant of the Yuan Court, gave shelter to our criminals, received our fugitives and lured away our frontier guards. Thus, there was no other way, but to despatch an army to punish him. It was not done without cause. Moreover, the mandate held by the Yuan had been altered by Heaven's will. Their descendants should not have settled in this place. You errant fools in Lu-chuan first, without authority, mobilized troops for a campaign against Jin-chi, then made plans to seize Jing-dong and subsequently pillaged Ding-bian. Reason would have permitted me to despatch troops to punish you, but I did not take up this option and did not contest with you. I have not forced you into becoming an obedient state and have allowed you to follow your own devices. This has been so for several years. Recently, I have heard that you have foolishly aggressed against your neighbouring states, with the intention of expanding your territory and illegally gaining more people. Also, you plan to attack our South-west. Verily, this cannot be permitted! The ancient Chinese sages said: `The rivers and mountains, land, territory and the people all inhere in the Imperial throne. They are not things man can possess by force. They can be acquired only through Heaven's bestowal.' You, Si Lun-fa have not maintained good relations with your neighbours, and instead have sent troops in three directions, stupidly annexing other states. Such is your greed and your plotting. The states surrounding Lu-chuan have, from ancient times until now, all had their own rulers. They have never been united. Even if I am unable to stop you acting as you wish, the Way of Heaven will surely achieve that end. However, if you respond in a sensible way, you may still come out alright. But I now warn you to content yourself with what you have at present. If you are not satisfied with what you have at present and move to take more, then you will either lose everything or perish. Thus, would it not be best to just look after that which you have at present?" Si Lun-fa, on hearing the orders, was frightened and, prostrating himself to acknowledge his offences, agreed to withdraw his troops. It so happened that at this time, one of his subordinate chiefs Dao Gan-meng rebelled. Si-cong and so on, using the might and majesty of the Court, instructed the people of that tribe, and thereupon the rebels pulled back somewhat. Si Lun-fa, wishing to use the envoys to force the submission of his subordinates, forcibly detained Si-cong and his party. He also gave them elephants, horses, gold and precious stones as presents. Si-cong and the others wrote to him, instructing him and refusing the presents. They said: "China does not consider elephants, horses, gold and jade as valuables; what it values is only loyal subjects, noble statesmen, strong soldiers, gallant generals, filial sons and obedient grandsons. You should send us envoys back to the Court and in future should not engage in raiding and trouble-making. Thus will you be showing your spirit as a loyal prince." Si Lun-fa was greatly pleased and invited Si-cong and the others to a feast for them to enjoy themselves. He then ordered his tribes-people to escort them to the border. When Si-cong and the others returned, they memorialized the events. They also wrote Account of the Bai-yi, which recorded in detail the area's mountains and rivers, the people, the customs and the roads, and presented it. The Emperor was impressed that they had not neglected the duties of envoys and said that their talents were useful. He was very pleased and conferred upon each of them a set of clothing.

Tai-zu: juan 244.2b-4a

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 8, page 3540/43

Next Entry >>
<< Previous Entry

Preferred form of citation for this entry:

Geoff Wade, translator, Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: an open access resource, Singapore: Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore, http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/reign/hong-wu/year-29-month-2-day-2, accessed November 20, 2019