Yong-le: Year 5, Month 6, Day 1

5 Jul 1407

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As Annam had been pacified, an Imperial proclamation was issued to all under Heaven. It read:

"I have respectfully taken on rule of the Empire, faithfully observed the patterns and widely spread the influence of the Sage. I wish all within the four seas to be happy and prosperous and to always enjoy great peace. In this way, from morning to night, all will be conscientious in their occupations and none will dare be idle. It is respectfully observed that my Imperial father, the Gao Emperor Tai-zu, unified all under Heaven and cherished the distant peoples. Chen Ri-kui of Annam respected righteousness and inclined to our culture. He took the lead in coming to offer tribute and he was thus enfeoeffed as king of Annam, with his descendants to inherit the territory.

More recently, the bandit minister Li Ji-li and his son Cang killed the ruler of the country and massacred the members of his family. They acted cruelly and maliciously in regard to the people and resentment and grievances filled the streets. Li improperly changed his name to Hu Yi-yuan and his son's name to Hu Di. He concealed the truth and falsely claimed to be the son of a woman of the Chen family. He deceitfully stated that the Chen line had come to an end and requested that he be allowed to inherit the fief. I was concerned that the people of the country would otherwise not be ruled and thus I allowed his request. However, he took pleasure in treachery and plotting, and acted recklessly without constraint. He claimed that he was more sagely than the "Three Emperors" and that his virtuous power surpassed that of the "Five Emperors," that he was more faithful to the patterns than Wen and Wu and more learned than Zhou and Kong. He unlawfully established the dynastic title Great Yu, adopted the reign title of Yuan-sheng, proclaimed himself Emperor of the Two Palaces and imitated the Court's ritual and ceremony. He received absconders and, while pretending to honour the Imperial calendar, ardently longed for Nan-zhao and spied on Guang-xi, awaiting a suitable opportunity. He occupied several subprefectures in Si-ming Prefecture and seized seven stockades in Ning-yuan Subprefecture, carrying off their sons and daughters and driving away the people. Taking advantage of Champa's weakness, he occupied its territory, forced a seal and robes on the king and required Champa to offer tribute and pay taxes. Successive envoys were sent to him to clearly instruct him, yet he continued in his evil without repentance.

A grandson of the king of Annam, who had fled and hid, then came to the Court and laid plaint. The Li bandit deceitfully expressed loyalty and asked that he be allowed to serve the grandson as his ruler. However, the Li bandit's soldiers ambushed him en route and killed him. They also impeded and mocked the Imperial envoy. When I sent people to confer gifts upon Champa, he also robbed the envoys and carried off the gifts. He foolishly chose to follow the ways of cruelty and his evil actions piled one on another and grew into mountains. This could not be tolerated within the four seas and both the spirits and men were greatly angered. I had only used words up to that stage, but he continued with his injurious and evil deeds. Thus, there was no option but to raise an army in order to punish the transgressors and console the people, and restore the family line which had been broken.

The Xin-cheng Marquis Zhang Fu was ordered to take on the post of regional commander and "General for Subduing the Yi" and, with others, to lead a force of 800,000 troops to punish him. They sped across the Fu-liang River and pushed deep into the rebel's territory. Proceeding powerfully, their force was like that of a thunderbolt. The imperilled criminal followers collapsed like rotten wood and seven million of them were quickly wiped out. Subsequently, this land of 2,000 li was entirely pacified. Taken prisoner were the rebel bandit Li Ji-li, his sons Li Cang and Li Cheng and the members of their families, as well as false generals, ministers and officials including Li Ji-pi, Hu Du and so on.

Those who surrendered and returned to allegiance were cared for and the good and the virtuous were comforted. A male descendant of the Chen line was sought everywhere, so that he could be enthroned. However, the officials and elders of the country all said that the Li bandits had killed every one of the male members of the family and that there was no-one who could inherit the throne. They also stated that Annam was anciently Jiao-zhou, an administrative division of China, but that later the people fell into yi ways and remained thus for many years. Now, they are pleased that the rebel leader has been swept away and the weeds all uprooted, and they wish to restore the ancient prefectures and counties and revitalize the people. I have acceded to the popular feeling and approved their request.

Thus I am establishing a Jiao-zhi Regional Military Commission, a provincial administration commission for Jiao-zhi and other places and a provincial surveillance commission for Jiao-zhi and other places, together with military and civilian offices, and am appointing officials to administer them. The evil influences that have permeated the coastal border will be eliminated and the old ways of the distant state will be changed. The appropriate measures are listed below.

The Annam kings of the Chen line were assassinated by the Li bandits. Their deaths went against that which was ordained and it is appropriate to posthumously confer upon them favours to console them in the other world. Those of their sons, grandsons and other family members who were killed by the bandits are also to have official titles posthumously conferred upon them. The authorities are to record their names and advise. The sons and grandsons of the Chen line were all killed by the Li bandits and the ancestral sacrifices have ceased. The authorities should erect a temple and arrange for the graves to be weeded. Thirty families should be allocated to look after the temple and 30 families to look after the graves. They will also offer sacrifices and carry out grave-sweeping.

Vast numbers of officials, soldiers and people were persecuted to death by the Li bandits. They should be pitied for the cruelty they suffered. The authorities should arrange for burials and sacrifices. All of the authorities in Annam's prefectures and counties were loyal to the Chens, but when they were threatened by the Li bandits, they had no choice but to comply. When the Imperial commands arrive, all those who were in office will take up their former posts. The people, however, have long been affected by yi ways and it is appropriate to appoint officials to both govern them and instruct them in Chinese propriety and law. For several years, the Li bandits governed oppressively and cruelly maltreated the people. Now they have been eliminated and the orders of the Court are being promulgated to bring the people peace.

When the Imperial commands arrive, all those people in all places throughout Annam who are gathered at the passes, who are guarding stockades or who have fled to the islands in the sea, should di.band. The people suffered grief under the Li bandits and have been in difficulties for a long period. The officials should show them kindness and sympathy and see that they are all settled in their occupations and that there are none without a proper place. Those officials, soldiers and people who suffered at the hands of the Lis, were tattooed or were banished, those whose entire families were left wandering without a place to remain and anyone else who was harmed should, on the arrival of the Imperial orders, all return to their original domiciles and again take up their occupations. The authorities in those places where these people are will facilitate their departure and not allow them to remain. Those who are languishing in prison are to be immediately released. Within the borders of Annam, the aged, eminent and worthy shall be treated with respect by the authorities while a relief office will be set up to look after and assist the widowers, widows, the orphaned, the childless and others who have no one to depend on. As to those men who are capable and virtuous and worthy of employment, the authorities are to send them to the capital with due respect and ceremony. Their abilities will then be assessed and they will be employed locally. Annam has borders with Champa, Bai-yi and other places. All should guard their boundaries and none should transgress them. Also, it is not permitted for military personnel or civilians to go beyond the boundaries in private dealings or to privately cross the oceans to deal in fan products. Offenders are to be punished in accordance with the law. Verily, how could the demonstration of majesty and might have been what my heart desired! However, the chief evil-doers have been eliminated and this certainly has the support of the people. I will widely exhibit my way of looking on all equally and will institute the peaceful rule of Yong-le. This will be proclaimed in China and abroad, so that everywhere will know of it."

Imperial orders were sent to the Xin-cheng Marquis Zhang Fu, regional commander and "General for Subduing the Yi"; the Xi-ping Marquis Mu Sheng, deputy general of the left; the Feng-cheng Marquis Li Bin, assistant commander of the left; the Yun-yang Earl Chen Xu, assistant commander of the right, and the other senior and junior military officials in Jiao-zhi. The orders read:

"The Li bandits of Annam killed their ruler, usurped control of the country and illegally changed the dynastic title and adopted a reign title. They acted cruelly without benevolence and caused pain and suffering throughout the country. They attacked and seized neighbouring territory, resisted the orders of the Court and did not fulfil their tribute obligations. I could not tolerate this and thus ordered you to to go and punish their crimes. Through reliance on the secret assistance of Heaven and Earth, the ancestors and the spirits, the officers and the men carried out their orders. Wherever the power of the troops reached, there all was pacified. The rebel bandit Li Ji-li, his son and their false ministers have been captured, the good and benevolent have been comforted and those who have surrendered have been received and cared for. They have not been subject to even the slightest injury. The market places have not been disordered and the advice of victory has already been received. This is indeed fine and worthy of great commendation. Formerly in the Song and Yuan dynasties, Annam violated orders. Armies were raised to punish them but the attempts were all unsuccessful. This recent campaign has surpassed those of former times. The resulting fame and eminence will be passed down for 100 generations. I am now sending special envoys with orders of encouragement and comfort. The summer is now at its height. You should select a high and cool place where to rest the troops. Await the cooler weather and then withdraw the troops."

Further Imperial orders were sent to Fu and the others as follows:

"You previously sent a memorial from the elder Mo Sui and others which noted that all the males of the Chen line had been eliminated by the Li bandits and that there was no-one who could succeed, and which requested that the old system be revived and the former prefectures and counties re-instituted. I ordered you to pay special attention to investigating these claims. Your memorial has now been received noting that the Chen line has already been broken and that, as the prefectures and counties have to be governed, requesting the establishment of the three offices to administer and govern the military personnel and the civilians. All is approved as requested. Establish the Jiao-zhi Regional Military Commission with the Assistant Commissioner-in-chief Lu Yi in charge of matters and Huang Zhong as his deputy. You are also to select two other able commissioners-in-chief to act as their assistants. The provincial administration commission and the provincial surveillance commission will both be headed by the Minister Huang Fu. The former vice minister of the Ministry of Works Zhang Xian-zong and the Fu-jian Administration Vice Commissioner of the Left Wang Ping are to be appointed as administration commissioners of the left and right respectively. The former He-nan Administration Vice Commissioner of the Left Liu Ben and the Vice Commissioner of the Right Liu Yu are to be appointed as administration vice commissioners of the left and right respectively. The former Jiang-xi Surveillance Commissioner Zhou Guan-zheng and the Annam person who returned to allegiance, Pei Bo-qi, are to be appointed as assistant administration commissioners of the left and right respectively. The former He-nan Surveillance Commissioner Ruan You-zhang and the Surveillance Vice Commissioner Yang Zhi are to be appointed as surveillance vice commissioners. The former prefect of Tai-ping Prefecture Liu You-nian is to be appointed as assistant surveillance commissioner. Other administrative officials have also been selected and despatched and they can be used in the civil offices of the prefectures, subprefectures and counties. You are to record and advise of the placements. If they are insufficient, further orders will be sent to the Ministry of Personnel to select more. The seals now being sent are for you to confer upon the appointed officials."

Tai-zong: juan 68.1a-3b

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 11, page 0943/0948

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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-5-month-6-day-1, accessed January 22, 2019