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Zheng-tong: Year 8, Month 5, Day 22

19 Jun 1443

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Previously, the Messenger Liu Huan of the Messenger Office, advised: "The Court has established official posts and divided duties among them, and each is in charge of its own functions. The ministers carry out orders and none dare disobey, because there are established regulations. This office has a total of 33 Messengers. Their sole functions are to carry proclamations and Imperial orders and to go as envoys to the yi in the four directions, and to take and bestow rewards, go to offer sacrifices, issue prohibitions and other such duties, for which the precedents are all clearly established. Recently, an envoy from the country of Champa was about to return home and it was appropriate that a Messenger be sent to escort him back. However, Ye Zhen, a director in the Ministry of Rites, abruptly sent the metropolitan graduate Qian Sen to escort him, thus encroaching upon our duties. Obviously, there was personal influences involved in the issue of those orders. If we solely send Messengers to the distant border regions of Da-tong, Gan-su, Wa-la and Ha-mi and solely send metropolitan graduates to Southern areas reached by ship, then the lack of uniformity in those being sent will result in the established rules being thrown into disorder." The Emperor ordered the Ministry of Rites to make a decision on this matter. The Minister Hu Ying and others advised: "In past years, the countries of Siam, Java and Champa sent envoys to bring tribute to Court. When they returned, they were accompanied by a director, secretary or metropolitan graduate from this ministry. When have we exclusively sent Messengers! When deciding who to send, officials and clerks of the office make submissions and these are jointly deliberated upon. It is not a matter in which a director can take a decision by himself. So how could the issuing of orders have been subject to personal influence? In past years, when the envoys from Da-tong, Wa-la and such places who had come to offer tribute to the Court were returning home, this ministry also sent vice directors, secretaries or metropolitan graduates with them. So here also it has not been a matter of solely sending Messengers. Thus, how could such actions throw the established rules into disorder?" The Emperor also ordered the Censorate to have a skilled censor examine the precedents dating from the Hong-wu (1368-98) and Yong-le (1403-24) reigns. Cao Tai, an investigating censor in the Shaan-xi Circuit, advised: "Through examination, it has been found that in the fifth month of the 27th year of the Hong-wu reign (May/Jun 1394), the memorial submitted by the Messenger Chen Sheng and others was approved. By this, Messengers would be sent to read proclamations and pardons, to confer rewards, to issue instructions of encouragement, to go as envoys to the yi in the four directions, to offer sacrifices, to send relief, to issue instructions on military matters, to appoint the worthy and able and to marshal the Great Army. When special Imperial orders were involved, these regulations were not to be binding. Also, it has been found from an examination of the documents of the Ministry of Revenue over successive years that those sent to escort the envoys of countries such as Ha-mi, Bengal and Java on their return included directors, vice directors, secretaries, Messengers, office aides, office attendants, heralds, ushers, metropolitan graduates and apprentice officials. There was no uniform convention. It is requested that the Ministry of Rites be ordered to observe the precedents dating from the Hong-wu reign (1369-98) and that when envoys are to be sent, first the Messengers should all be sent. Only if there are insufficient Messengers should the metropolitan graduates be despatched. In this way, the Messenger functions will be uniform, everyone will have their own function to perform and none will dare to wrangle. As to the recent incidents, there were over 10 Messengers in the Messenger Office, but the director Ye Zhen did not select and send any of these Messengers. Also, Liu Huan has made false accusations in his memorial by stating that the rules had been thrown into disorder and so on. It is requested that both be sent to the Judicial Offices to be punished for their offences." The Emperor said: "They are both pardoned. In future when sending envoys, we should respect the old system."

Ying-zong: juan 104.9a-b

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 27, page 2113/14

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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/zheng-tong/year-8-month-5-day-22, accessed September 17, 2019