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Xuan-de: Year 5, Month 3, Day 11

3 Apr 1430

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The Vice Minister Li Qi and others who had been sent as envoys to Jiao-zhi returned. The chieftain Tao Gong-zhuan and others who had been sent by Li Li offered tribute of gold and silver utensils and local products. They also presented a memorial, which read: "The Imperial orders of instruction have been respectfully received. All the Court's officials, clerks and soldiers, as well as their family members who had been hidden by the families of the native officials, and military and civilian personnel have been sent back together with their weapons. I humbly note that, of the Imperial troops who previously came on the expedition of punishment, after excluding those who were killed or wounded, there only remained 280 military officials, 157 civil officials and clerks, 15,170 soldiers and 1,200 horses. I carefully noted their names and domicile registrations, provided them with rations, prepared ships and, together with all official property, military equipment and other goods, as well as the family members of the above-mentioned people, sent them all back. I did not harm even a hair of any of them. As to the weapons recently brought here by the Imperial forces, they were either lost in the hills and forests or the government troops destroyed them themselves. None remain. On the eighth day of the third month in the third year of the Xuan-de reign (15 Apr 1428), I respectfully read the Imperial proclamation requiring that the remaining troops be sought out. I sent instructions of warning to the people of the country and also sent persons in all directions seeking any remaining such persons. All those found have been returned. As to those who were ill and unable to undertake the journey, I ordered doctors to attend to them and supplied them with clothes and grain. When they were well, I had them escorted to the border and allowed them to return by themselves. Now I have again received Imperial orders instructing me in the preceding matter. I again sent persons into the hills, forests and secluded and distant places. They enquired of everyone, but the chieftains and elders of the various prefectures, subprefectures and counties throughout the country affirmed that truly no more of those people remain here. I humbly note that, although I was guilty of mountains of transgressions, the kindness of the Sage was extended and the transgressions were forgiven. Further, the Emperor was concerned that those native clerks (Alt: native officials) who were in the capital for assessment and our university students would be missing their villages and homes and thus he sent them all home. Even if we ground ourselves to pulp, we could not repay even one ten-thousandth of this kindness. How could we dare to detain the Court's officials or clerks and not accord with the Imperial proclamation? I could not commit the crime of misleading the Emperor or cheating Heaven. If I truly did not love the people of the country, wished to engage in evil and thus hasten future calamity, all the people of the country would oppose me in an angered crowd. Although I am very foolish, my stupidity would not lead me to do that. I kneel before the brightness of Heaven's sun and prostrate myself before Imperial investigation." The envoys also carried a memorial from the chieftains and elders, which read: "On the 13th day of the tenth month in the fourth year of the Xuan-de reign (9 Nov 1429), we respectfully read the Imperial orders, further instructing us to conduct investigations into whether there truly were no further male descendants of the Chen line, upon the advice of which the Court would arrange matters. The orders also noted: `If I could get one person to govern the country, it will be enough to satisfy my wishes.' All the people of the country were overjoyed and danced with delight. They looked up with great respect at the vast kindness of the Sage Son of Heaven in concerning himself with distant places. The people of a country must have someone to govern them. Thus we made repeated appeals, but all were without result. We had earlier received several Imperial orders of instruction, requiring that we send people to seek a descendant of the Chens and memorialize results so that restoration of the broken line could be announced. The Emperor felt compassion for the Chens as their ancestors had been so loyal and he felt pity that their sons and grandsons had lost their place. The Emperor's love and pity is as infinite as this. We were ministers of the Chens and for generations received their great favours. How could we not carry out the great wish of the Court or fail to enquire everywhere? Thus, people were sent to all places to enquire, throughout the country and even to distant borders. Enquiries were made of every household and every family, but no sign of any Chen descendants could be found. We feel that the senior chieftain Li Li of this country is respectful and sincere, has pacified the region, has the hearts of the people and is capable of governing. This has already been memorialized. It is humbly hoped that the Emperor will pity the exhausted people and condescend to grant our request. In this way, Li Li will be able to make known the virtuous power of the Sage in pacifying the distant peoples and make know the Imperial majesty in strengthening the border defences. He will long remain a feudatory minister and regularly fulfil his tribute duties. Thereby, the Sage Son of Heaven will be able to bring great blessings through his concern for the distant peoples and also bring great happiness to all living things in our country." When the Emperor had finished reading, he consulted his attending ministers, saying: "The man and yi are wily and deceitful. They cannot be easily trusted. We must make further enquiries." It was ordered that the Auxiliary Ministry of Rites confer upon Gong-zhuan and the others clothing made from patterned fine silks.

Xuan-zong: juan 64.4a-5b

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 19, page 1505/08

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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-5-month-3-day-11, accessed October 20, 2020