Yong-le: Year 4, Month 7, Day 4
18 Jul 1406
It was ordered that the Cheng-guo Duke Zhu Neng take on the seal of "General for Subduing the Yi" and the post of regional commander; that the Xi-ping Marquis Mu Sheng take on the seal of "Deputy General for Subduing the Yi" and the post of deputy commander of the left; that the Xin-cheng Marquis Zhang Fu take on the post of deputy commander of the right; that the Feng-cheng Marquis Li Bin take on the post of assistant regional commander of the left; that the Yun-yang Earl Chen Xu take on the post of assistant regional commander of the right, and that they lead the troops in punishing the Li bandits of Annam.
It was ordered that the Minister of War Liu Jun act as adviser on military matters; that the Vice Commissioner Cheng Kuan and the Assistant Commissioner Zhu Gui take on the posts of firearms commanders; that the Vice Commissioners Mao Ba-dan and Zhu Guang and the Assistant Commissioner-in-chief Wang Shu take on the posts of mobile corps commanders; that the Vice Commissioner Lu Lin, the Assistant Commissioner Wang Yu and the Guard Commander Gao Peng take on the posts of sea-crossing commanders; that the Assistant Commissioner-in-chief Lu Yi, the Regional Military Commissioner Zhu Ying, the Regional Vice Commissioner Jiang Hao and the Assistant Commissioner Fang Zheng take on the posts of rapid attack commanders; and that the Assistant Commissioner-in-chief Zhu Rong, the Vice Commissioner Jin Ming, the Assistant Commissioner Wu Wang and the Vice Commander Liu Ta-chu take on the posts of cavalry commanders.
The Emperor instructed them, saying:
"Previously, in the time of the Emperor Tai-zu, [Chen] Ri-kui, the king of Annam, took the lead in pledging allegiance and respectfully carried out the tribute duties. From beginning to end he was loyal, our country treated him very well and the people of Annam all shared in his fortune. After the death of Ri-kui, the three succeeding kings were killed by the bandit minister Li Ji-li and his son. They grabbed the throne, changed their names, usurped a dynastic title and killed nearly all the sons and grandsons of the Chen family. They then unleashed soldiers to rob and harm the innocent, invaded Champa and encroached across our border. Tian-ping, a grandson of the Chens, was driven off by Li and subsequently he came and pledged his allegiance to the Court. The bandit then falsely admitted guilt and requested that Tian-ping be returned so that he could serve him as his lord. I treated him with sincerity and was not suspicious, and thus sent Tian-ping back to his country with an escort. But that person there concealed an evil heart and he duped and killed Tian-ping, made a fool of the Imperial envoy and killed and injured the Imperial troops. He has imposed cruel and severe punishments and levied harsh and exorbitant taxes. He has oppressed the people of the country and the people hate him to the marrow of his bones. The spirits of Heaven and Earth are unable to tolerate this. I have respectfully taken on the mandate of Heaven and treat the people on all sides as my children. I dare not fail to correct this situation.
"I am especially sending you to lead troops to console the people and to punish those who have been rebellious. The people of Annam are all my children. Now they are in a helpless situation as if suspended upside down. You are proceeding there to relieve them of their suffering and you mu st not be tardy in this. The Li bandits, both father and son and their cohorts mu st be captured, while those who have been forced to follow and the innocent mu st be released. You should fully embody my thoughts in your action. Do not create disorder; do not toy with the bandits; do not damage houses or graves; do not harm the fields; do not recklessly take goods or valuables; do not carry off men's wives or daughters; and do not kill those who surrender. If there are any actions of this kind, then even if the persons involved have realized achievements, they will not be pardoned. You must be cautious. Do not rush into danger or act recklessly and do not advance without caution in quest of advantage. Show concern and sympathy to the soldiers and ensure that the military equipment is well maintained. In your mind be watchful and cautious and in your actions be prudent and brave. You should exert yourself in this. When the criminals have been captured, select a worthy male descendant of the Chen family to place on the throne, ensure that the region is being governed peacefully and then withdraw the army. Then we will announce the success to the ancestral temple and everywhere make known your success. These are my wishes. As you go, exert yourselves in this task!"
Neng and the others kowtowed and received the orders. At this time, the Xi-ping Marquis Mu Sheng was still defending Yun-nan. Thus, the Feng-cheng Marquis and Assistant Commander of the Left Li Bin was first sent with the seal of "Deputy General for Subduing the Yi" for him, while the others were to advance their troops from Guang-xi. The two flanks were to then join forces and achieve victory together. He was sent the same instructions as were given to Neng. Further orders were also issued to him as follows:
"Formerly, your father served my Imperial father and he was able to repeatedly realize achievements. In controlling the Western Regions and pacifying Yun-nan, his accomplishments were extraordinary. After he passed away, there was great grief and your elder brother and then you inherited the title of Marquis. You have had the commission in this area for several years and the borders have been peaceful. This is indeed gratifying. You are valued as reliant and an achiever. Now, I am ordering you to take on the posts of deputy general of the left and deputy regional commander and, together with the Cheng-guo Duke Zhu Neng, go and attack and punish the Li bandits of Annam. You should exert yourself in your loyalty and diligence. Handle things well together and achieve outstanding success. Thus will you bring glory to your ancestors and provide an example to your later generations. You are to make great efforts! Trust, benevolence, bravery and discipline are the traits of a general. If you fear the weak, nothing will go well. If you fear the trifling, there will be no success. You mu st make full, long-range plans. Do not just concern yourself with the immediate and do not become conceited over small gains. You must guard against being influenced by private feelings. Only thus will you be suited to carrying out my commission. You are to make great efforts!"
Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 11, page 0822/25