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Xuan-de: Year 4, Month 3, Day 28

1 May 1429

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Li Qi, vice minister in the Auxiliary Ministry of Rites; Xu Yong-da, the chief minister in the Court of State Ceremonial; the Messenger Zhang Cong; and others were sent with Imperial orders of instruction for the Annam chieftain Li Li and the elders of Annam. The orders read: "Your memorial has been read and noted. I serve Heaven by treating the people as my children. In the 10,000 states within the four seas, I try to provide prosperity and abundance. You, Annam, are not distant from the capital and, under the Chens, Annam was the first of all to come to allegiance. How could I bear distancing Annam and having it alone being without that which it desired! Previously, it was advised that a male descendant of the Chen line remained alive and you memorialized requesting that he be appointed so that he could carry on the sacrifices at the ancestral temple. I was pleased and thus proclaimed the withdrawal of the troops, called back the officials and ordered you, chieftains and elders, to advise of the facts so that I could happily follow the people's wishes and ensure security and prosperity. Not long after, you suddenly advised that the Chen descendant had died of illness and you were respectfully guarding the country and awaiting the Court's orders. I believed that there would certainly be more than one surviving descendant of the Chens and again sent orders requiring that they be sought out. Now, you have advised that there are no descendants remaining and have requested that the orders be changed. If I could truly get one person to govern the country, it would be enough to satisfy my wishes. However, an appointment is an important matter and must be carefully considered. The Chen family was of great virtue and had many family members. They scattered to seek shelter in isolated places and some should still remain alive. Previously, during the Yong-le reign (1403-24), when the Imperial army had just captured Li Ji-li and his son, an immediate search was made for a male descendant of the Chens in order to enthrone him. At that time, everyone within the country said that all the Chen descendants had been killed. However, after 20-plus years there was still a survivor. If we use the past to judge the present, it would seem that there must be further remaining descendants. Order your elders to travel widely and make enquiries. If some descendants of the Chens are found, immediately advise of their names. If investigations indicate that there are really no remaining descendants, the Court will then make appropriate arrangements. You, Li, are to widely send instructions to the families of your native officials and military and civilian personnel requiring that, if they are concealing any of the Court's officials, clerks or soldiers or any of their family members, all are to be sent back. Those weapons which were abandoned in the hills or swamps will certainly be ruined. However, if any of the weapons are stored in the cities or suburbs, they must all be returned. The superior exercises authority over the the inferior and in all matters must show tolerance. The inferior serves the superior and should be sincere and respectful. In this way, dangers will be eliminated and the way will be safe. You should respect this!" Further Imperial orders were sent to Li as follows; "You memorialized that your nine year-old daughter had been taken away and looked after by Ma Qi, that he brought her back to the capital and that you now wished your family to be completely united. On hearing of this, I felt great sympathy. I am the father and mother of all under Heaven. How could I bear knowing that a child was away from its parents and all alone. Thus, I immediately ordered that enquiries be made. However, it appears that, due to the change in her environment, your daughter died of illness long ago. The love of a father for his children is the same, but the length of life of those children is determined by fate. These special instructions are for your advice." On this day, travelling funds were conferred upon Qi, Yong-da and Cong. Further, clothing and paper money were conferred upon the envoy He Li and he was sent off together with Qi.

Xuan-zong: juan 52.10b-11b

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 18, page 1258/60

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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/xuan-de/year-4-month-3-day-28, accessed November 20, 2019