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Yong-le: Year 2, Month 8, Day 28

2 Oct 1404

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Chen Tian-ping, a grandson of the former king of Annam, came to Court escorted by an envoy sent by Dao Xian-dai, the military and civilian pacification superintendent of Laos. His memorial read:

"I, Tian-ping, am the grandson of Xuan, the former king of Annam, the son of Weng and the younger brother of Ri-kui. Ri-kui revered the Heavenly Court and took the lead in coming to allegiance. The Gao Emperor Tai-zu enfeoffed him as the king of Annam and conferred a seal and robes upon him. He reigned two years and then died. His younger brother Jing succeeded him but likewise only reigned for two years and was succeeded by his son Xian. The rebel minister Li Ji-li then took control of the country and usurped the power of the king. Xian wanted to restrain him, so Li killed him and put Xian's son Yong on the throne. The real power in the country then lay in the hands of Ji-li and his son Cang. Everywhere they appointed those of the rebellious clique. Yong was just an onlooker. Not long after, Li also killed Yong and put Yong's son An on the throne. He was an untaught child, still in his swaddling clothes. Ji-li and his son killed many of the Chen family. They then killed An and took the throne themselves. Ji-li changed his name to Hu Yi-yuan and his son's name to Hu Di and claimed that he was a descendant of Hu Gong-man, who was in turn descended from the Emperor Shun. Following this, he changed the dynastic title to Great Yu (大虞). Ji-li usurped the title of Father of the Emperor and his son Di became Emperor of the Great Yu. Previously, as I had been removed from my post I moved to a subprefecture outside the capital. When Ji-li and his son determined to usurp power, I was, fortunately, a witness from afar. My officials and assistants were roused by loyalty and righteousness and promoted me to be their ruler, so that I could eliminate the bandit and overcome the enemy. There was deliberation about raising an army but the rebel troops observed this and exerted force against us. We fled in great alarm and my followers dispersed.

"The rebels pursued us endlessly, and sent troops all over to seek us out. I escaped and hid in the caves and valleys, feeding myself with what I could pick or scavenge. I was hungry and in great distress, with very little chance of remaining alive. After a long period, calculating that the situation had cooled, I cautiously left that place via back-roads. The journey was arduous and difficult, but finally I arrived in Laos. At this time, Laos had many matters to attend to, but they spared no trouble in looking after me. Gazing at the Court 10,000 li in the distance, there was no way to lay my plaint. Many times I wished to to take my own life and I cared not for existence.

"The months and years dragged by and then suddenly, on reading a proclamation, was aware that the Emperor had taken on the rule and was observing the old regulations. My heart was gladdened that there was now a basis for coming to allegiance. However, due to illness, I was long delayed. Now, in this year, I have the opportunity to gaze on the Heavenly countenance. I respectfully recall that our former ministers had received orders from the Gao Emperor Tai-zu and had for generations protected Annam and loyally brought tribute.

"What can be said of this bandit, who has wrought evil on such a scale, rebelled against and showed contempt for the Imperial Court, abandoned the ways of propriety, repeatedly killed, engaged in rebellion and usurped the throne! The Chen descendants have all been tyrannically eliminated, leaving only myself. I cannot live under the same sky as that bandit. I humbly seek Imperial grace and, hoping that you will condescend to have sympathy, I kowtow and shed tears."

He also said:

"The bandit minister Ji-li is already aged. The treacherous devices and seditious schemes all now originate with Li Cang. He has attacked and plundered Champa and wishes to make them his subjects. He has also attacked Si-ming Prefecture and grabbed its territory. If his heart is examined, it will be found that his real desire is to resist the authority of the superior country, levy extortionate taxes and levies and exercise cruel laws and evil punishments. The people are greived and resentful, as if they had been plunged into water and tortured by the heat of fires. My ancestors for generation after generation were kind and generous. Now the people of the country are wailing as they think fondly of the past. Your Majesty has moral power equal to Heaven and Earth, while your virtue extends as far as the four seas. If even one thing is out of place, your heart is not settled. It is the hope of the distant yi and the great desire of my insignificant self that you punish the rebellious and console the people by restoring the family which had its line of succession cut off."

The Emperor sympathized with him and, receiving him, ordered the appropriate offices to confer upon him a residence and provide him with a monthly grain stipend.

Tai-zong: juan 33.10b-11b

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 10, page 0594/96

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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/yong-le/year-2-month-8-day-28, accessed November 15, 2019