Difference between revisions of "(Translation) 麗史提綱"

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|Year = 1667
|Year = 1667
|Key Concepts= History
|Key Concepts= History
|Translator = [[2017 Summer Hanmun Workshop (Advanced)#수강생 | Participants of 2017 Summer Hanmun Workshop (Advanced Translation Group)]]
|Translator = King Kwong Wong [[2017 Summer Hanmun Workshop (Advanced)#수강생 | Participants of 2017 Summer Hanmun Workshop (Advanced Translation Group)]]
|Editor = King Kwong Wong
|Editor = King Kwong Wong
|Translation Year = 2017
|Translation Year = 2017

Latest revision as of 15:31, 23 November 2020


The Yŏsa chegang 麗史提綱 (the Annotated Outline of Koryŏ History), compiled by Yu Kye 兪棨 (1607-1664), was published in 1667, three years after the compiler’s death. It seems, according to the preface written by Song Si-yŏl 宋時烈 (1607-1689), Yu Kye was unable to publish the history book before he died, and so he helped the publication. The history book has a total of 23 volumes, covering the history of Koryŏ from the beginning of T’aejo 太祖’s reign (r. 918-943) to the reign of King Ch’ang 昌王 (r. 1388-1389). Interestingly, the reign of King Kongyang 恭讓王 (r.1389-1392) is left out from this history. As the preface and explanatory notes state, the historiographical genre of the book follows that of Zhu Xi朱熹 (1130-1200)’s Zizhi tongjian gangmu 資治通鑑綱目 (the Annotated Outline of the Comprehensive Mirror) – the kangmok 綱目 (Ch. gangmu, annotated outline).

With the rising prominence of Confucian-minded literati at the court, the Chosŏn state (1392-1910) put great emphasis on the writing of history. As early as the beginning of the dynasty, the state had already commissioned several historical texts, notably: the Koryŏsa 高麗史 (the History of Koryŏ) in 1451, the Koryŏsa chŏryo 高麗史節要 (Essentials of Koryŏ History) in 1452, and in 1486 the Tongguk t’onggam 東國通鑑 (the Comprehensive Mirror of the Eastern Country), which was modeled on the Northern Song historian Sima Guang 司馬光 (1019-1086)’s Zizhi tongjian 資治通鑑 (the Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Governance).[1] Beside the state-endorsed historical works, a new historiographical trend began to develop in the sixteenth century. Private compilation of history, such as Pak Sang 朴祥 (1474-1530)’s Tongguk saryak 東國史略 (the Abridged History of the Eastern Country) and O Un 吳澐 (1540-1617)’s Tongsa ch'anyo 東史纂要 (the Compendium of the History of the East) marked this trend. And along this trend was the rise of Zhu Xi’s historiography starting from the seventeenth century.[2]

The Yŏsa chegang, thus, can be seen as a product of the historiographical development in the Chosŏn period. But more importantly, what underlay this historical trend was the Confucian view of history. Particularly, the praise and criticism on the kings and officials of the Tongguk t’onggam reflects the Neo-Confucian historiography that influenced later historical writings, including Yu Kye’s own Yŏsa chegang.[3] As he explains it in the explanatory notes, Yu Kye, however, used another form of historiography that was advocated by the Neo-Confucian Zhu Xi to advance his Neo-Confucian view of history. But this change of using a different historical genre had no bearing on the general Confucian view of history as he retains the praise and criticism of his predecessors. Furthermore, the various comments made by Song Si-yŏl in his preface regarding the downfall of the Koryŏ dynasty also reflect his Neo-Confucian view of history.

One of the reasons that Yu Kye disregarded the previous t’onggam historiographical genre when compiling the Yŏsa chegang was to facilitate the study of history. In this regard, it seems he was successful as later King Yŏngjo 英祖 (r. 1774-1776) studied it in his royal lectures, although it was not presented to the monarch during his lifetime.[4] The list of historical works that the monarch read included some of the t’onggam and kangmok works mentioned above, alongside with other Confucian classics.[5] The study of history, particularly the Neo-Confucian vision of history, was thus essential to the upbringing of the monarch as the case of Yŏngjo shows.

Since historical learning had a major bearing on the monarch, it was Song Si-yŏl’s imperative to recommend Yu Kye’s historical work to be presented to the Chosŏn king. Aside from this reason, Song Si-yŏl’s preface also reveals his political stance in the interstate relations between Chosŏn and the Qing dynasty (1636-1912). In the preface, he expresses his disgust to the marriage between Koryŏ and the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368), and at the same time his approval to the relations between Koryŏ and the Song dynasty (960-1276). This can be seen as a parallel of the struggle between the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), the Manchus, and Chosŏn in Northeast Asia in the early seventeenth century as the situations then were similar: the Koryŏ-Song relations symbolize the Chosŏn-Ming while the Koryŏ-Yuan relations symbolize the Chosŏn-Qing. Considering the fact that Song Si-yŏl was a hardliner of pro-Ming policy in the Chosŏn court throughout his official career and that the last Manchu invasion was merely 30 years prior to the publication, anti-Qing sentiment remained prominent in the court albeit the Ming was destroyed 23 years ago. Therefore Song Si-yŏl’s comment in the preface is politically charged as he hoped that unlike the late Koryŏ which sided with the Yuan, the Chosŏn state should follow the example of early Koryŏ, upholding the moral principle – an essential concept of Neo-Confucianism.

Original Script

Classical Chinese English

麗史提綱 序


Preface of the Annotated Outline of Koryŏ History

The History of Koryŏ has a total of 137 chapters. It has annals, biographies, treatises and tables. Speeches and events appear scattered; one cannot comprehend its essence. The Honorable Sinam Yu Kye saw it as a shortcoming. He roughly followed Master Zhu's[6] standard to lay out the chronicle and manifest legitimacy: the great scripts raise the outlines and then the annotations complete those that are left out. The book has a total of 12 volumes and is named the Annotated Outline of Koryŏ History. Alas! If one wants to know the rise and fall of the Koryŏ dynasty, read this book then one will know it like looking at one’s palm and fingers. Let me try to discuss it. The achievements of Koryŏ T'aejo can be said to be many, so it is not surprising that his dynasty experienced as many as 470 of years. But during these 470 years, peaceful and prosperous days were extremely rare, and yet days in disorder were excessively many. After the middle period, its chaos was especially severe. Nevertheless, investigating its cause, it was none other than the negligence [in governance] and debauchery, so as to lose the way of self-cultivation. Therefore, it returned to the state where the cardinal virtues and relationships were not properly manifested. Ever since the period after Sŏn and Hye,[7] by marrying with the barbaric Yuan, the kings presumed that they were able to rely on this security, and had no intention of self-governing. Eventually, this led to father and son plotting against each other, ruler and ministers slandering each other, husband and wife also hating each other and bringing their dispute to the court. This resembles the misery of a freezing lone wandering bird, which lingers for years, and matches the sign of one suffering from chronic illness and yet lives on without dying.[8] In addition, places like Jieyang of the Southern Sea,[9] even the Honorable Han Wen[10] hated it because of its remoteness, thus led to his prayer at the Huangling Temple.[11] And looking back, there was once a ruler of thousand chariots, with several dozens of servants, was exiled there, and eventually died on his way.[12] As for the banishment to Tubo[13], I cannot not bear to speak about it. The love from the northern barbarian, therefore, can we rely on it? Thus on the many cases throughout Koryŏ’s generations, it would be better if it is not as many. However, people of the Southern Song still regarded their social custom as good. Why? It is because when the foreign barbarians dominated the frontiers, they submitted to the Song dynasty. On land and in sea, the frontiers were difficult. Yet, diplomatic communications were just as open [as before], even once seeking physician for medical treatment, secretly rendering their real sentiment. This is truly the moral principle that will not perish. As a result, sometime their ritual and moral customs were praised in the central court. In addition, the central court received the reciprocation of loyalty and righteousness from their ministers: previously there were Yi Ikchae[14] and the other honorables, and later there were Chŏng P'oŭn[15] and the other worthies. Their deeds were remarkable. These are all men who deserve to be written not just one but many times. How is this the case that amidst the prominence of negative energy, positive energy could not have existed? I once heard that when the great outline is roughly brought up, then admonishment will be manifested.[16] This book of the Honorable Yu has almost the same intent. In the past, the Honorable Sima[17] presented the Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Governance. Judging from its name and its meaning, it aims to aid the governance of the world and be comprehensive to act as a mirror for posterity. The Honorable Yu’s diligent intention, goes without saying, came from this [same intention of Sima Guang]. Alas! It is a pity that [his work] is yet to be presented to His Majesty. This book after all should not be kept in secret. If it has the heavenly favor that it receives the keen reading by His Majesty, then it will help His royal court to reflect on admonitions. There is a saying: “why should one follow rulers of later generations? It is because of their timeliness.”[18] Then, as for those of whom should not be followed, one should of course take the more recent ones as better admonitions. I humbly made this speech and laid it out in the beginning of this book because I was moved. Our Koryŏ, outlying to the east, submitted and was afar from the whole Min[19] ten thousand or so ri. But its praise received from Master Zhu is very detailed. This is honor and glory, not just an empty ceremonial dress. On the other hand, those who work on the history of Koryŏ do not even think there is a single word that can be drawn and regarded as important. How is this the case that there is no sufficient documents of that time? The morals of our dynasty focused on revering the establishment of the Central Plain. This totally transformed the custom of Koryŏ. Then what about those of which being praised during Master Zhu’s generation? And how they were perceived nowadays? I cannot stand but secretly sigh deeply with a heavy heart. Therefore, I gather several examples of which people praised about the Koryŏ dynasty and arrange them into categories so that readers can verify. Alas! If the Honorable Sinam can write in the netherworld, then he must have smiled. On the twenty-sixth day of the first month of the dingwei year of Chongzhen,[20] Song Si-yŏl of Ŭnjin prefaced.

麗史提綱 凡例























Explanatory Notes on the Usage of the Annotated Outline of Koryŏ History

Since [the time of] Kija, our Land of the East had writing and script, but there was no trace of records. The Three Kingdoms competed with each other. Each had their own writings and histories, and yet most were not passed on. Kim Pusik compiled the Historical Records of the Three Kingdoms[21], in which the records and the likes are all ridiculous and untrustworthy. Besides, its age was faraway, so there was no way to verify the development of state affairs, and the appointment and retirement of personalities. Thereupon, I divided [the history] from the enthronement of Koryŏ T'aejo, chronicled the events in a book, and named it the Annotated Outline of Koryŏ History.

The History of Koryŏ[22] imitates the style of previous dynastic histories, thus its annals only record the gist of years and months. The rest – the development of state affairs and the appointment and retirement of personalities – which are worthy to reflect upon and to heed as admonishment, are all scattered amid various treatises and biographies. Scholars, at first glance, see [them] all over the place; it is not easy [to read]. Although the sequence [of events] is said to be [contained] in a book, in fact, it is in three. In addition, the number of volume is too many. Perusing not even half of the content, [one] often already feels disgusted and weary. Because of this shortcoming, Mister O Un wrote the Compendium[23], so as to facilitate the observation and reading [of histories]. However, the passages recorded in the annals are too brief, and the verifiable facts are all recorded in the biographies. Thence, it cannot escape [the shortcoming of] being a volume and yet two forms of writing. The difficulty to examine and study [histories] resembles the former. Although the Comprehensive Mirror[24] gathers together histories in one book, it neither distinguishes between the key points and details nor has the order of annals. Readers thus have no way to grasp its essence. Now the author tentatively took the essence of the History of Koryŏ and various books as outlines, and widely searched through the biographies and various treatises for facts and deeds as details, which were separately annotated underneath the outlines. Although they are not recorded in the annals, for those which should be established as outlines, outlines were separately established and annotated. As for writing the judgment of praise and criticism, the author roughly imitates histories of the past and dares not rashly subjoin or reduce.

Our country although yearly receives the calendar from the Middle Kingdom, since this book is private annals of our country, the year of our country was thus written and the reign title of the Middle Kingdom was annotated underneath. Besides, the kapcha sixty-year cycle was written and displayed above each year, outside of the column. Views from the History of the Song were not taken so as to discern the differences and similarities.

Although this book starts from the enthronement of Koryŏ T'aejo, since at that time Silla and Paekche still existed, for this reason before T'aejo of Koryŏ united the country, the rule of non-unification from the kangmok[25] was used to list the Three Kingdoms under the sixty-year cycle. However, Koryŏ and Paekche were originated from Silla, hence the regulation of ruler and ministers was roughly used.

In between the years, or if there was nothing to record in Spring, then [the event of] Summer is first written, if not, Autumn, and then Winter. If a year did not have anything to record, then only the year was written to display it. The author dared not follow the Spring and Autumn [Annals] - even if there was no affair, Spring and Autumn were written to display the year.

For each year, the events were only separated and chronicled monthly, and the author dared not use the standard of the Spring and Autumn to record events daily.

For the annotations under the outlines, all were widely investigated from various documents to revise their month and day. As for those which cannot be left unrecorded and yet their dates cannot be verified, as well as those recording personalities whose deeds were similar and adjacent to each other, then outlines were not established but their kinds are grouped so that they can be viewed [together].

For those of which only their years were recorded in biographies and various treatises, and their dates cannot be verified, then outlines were established at the end of each year so that they can be seen.

Whenever the king’s temple name contains chong, he was addressed as Your Majesty, [his mother] queen dowager, [his heir apparent] crown prince, [his birthday] festival, [his instruction] decree, and so on. Although these amount to usurpation, now they cannot be totally erased, so their names at that time were kept.

For the annals of [King] U and [King] Ch'ang, the author only followed the example of Mister O’s Compendium and dared not have any alterations and changes.

For [the events related to] “serving the great” and amicable diplomacy with neighbors, and the reception and dispatch of diplomatic envoys even they are trivial, all were recorded. Not all natural disasters and change of time were written. Yet for those like solar eclipse, earthquake, and flying of comets, albeit trivial all were recorded. As for sighting of constellation during daytime, gale, thunder, frost and hail, human demons and supernatural spirits, and so on, only those which were peculiar and distinctive are written.

For yŏndŭng and p’algwan,[26] as well as sacrificial offerings and the rest of the routines of the past dynasties which cannot be all recorded, their courses of event were recorded only on their first appearance.

For the events which were linked together and cannot be separated in different annals, then their conclusions were written at where they are started, so that they are not scattered.

For the dismissal and appointment of prime minister, albeit trivial all were recorded. As for the occasion where the honorable men and lesser men were distinctively appointed or retired, even their posts were not comparable to that of the prime minister, they were recorded.

For personalities and their deeds, all were compiled according to the events. As for those that were left out, then they were collected at the end of the book.

For the development of the official institution, all were written according to their names at that time.

For the names of county and prefecture, all were annotated with their current name underneath. As for those which cannot be verified, they are omitted.

For divinations and abnormal, ridiculous and vulgar speeches, all were now removed. Only those which were close to the reality were kept.

For those dubious occasion which cannot become the standard, all were separated in annotation, so as to attach the meaning of doubt.

For the comments of previous Confucians and historians amid various documents, all were selected, weeded out and recorded. Court historiographer at that time are called official historian, the various officials of later period who authored histories are called mister historian. If their names are verifiable, they were all written in this format: Mister, their family names, then followed by their personal names.

Whenever the words are difficult and obscure, which hardly have any erroneous and questionable occasions, the author dared not absurdly alter and thus keep them in their original.

Whenever the author attached his humble opinions, they were marked by the character an with a circle above.

  • Discussion Questions:

Further Readings

Ch'oe Yong-ho. “An Outline History of Korean Historiography.” Korean Studies 4 (1980): 1-27.

Chŏng Ku-bok. “Traditional Historical Consciousness and Historiography.” In Introduction to Korean Studies. Seoul: The National Academy of Sciences, 1986.

Haboush, JaHyun Kim. “Confucian Rhetoric and Ritual as Techniques of Political Dominance: Yŏngjo's Use of the Royal Lecture.” The Journal of Korean Studies 5 (1984): 39-62.

Zhu Xi. Chachʻi tʻonggam kangmok 資治通鑑綱目. Seoul: Pogyŏng Munhwasa, 1987.

———. Zhouyi benyi 周易本義. Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, 1992.
  1. Ch'oe, “An Outline History of Korean Historiography,” 11.
  2. Chŏng, “Traditional Historical Consciousness and Historiography,” 131-132.
  3. Ibid., 129.
  4. Haboush, “Confucian Rhetoric and Ritual,” 59.
  5. Ibid., 55-59.
  6. Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200), one of the founding fathers of the Neo-Confucian school in the late Southern Song period.
  7. Refers to King Ch’ungsŏn 忠宣王 (r. 1298, 1308-1313) and King Ch’unghye 忠惠王 (r. 1330-1332, 1339-1344), who were respectively the second and the fourth king married a Mongol princess.
  8. This is a sign from the Book of Change 易經 (Yijing), Hexagram 16, Yin in Fifth Place. Zhu Xi comments on the sign as follows: the chronic illness means the state of being in the danger of indulging pleasure by a false sense of elation, and yet by remaining steadfast at the center one survives. See Zhu Xi, Zhouyi benyi 周易本義 (the Original Meaning of the Book of Change).
  9. Jieyang is in nowadays eastern part of Guangdong province of China.
  10. Wen was the posthumous appellation of Han Yu 韓愈 (768-824), a poet and official of the Tang dynasty (618-907).
  11. This refers to Han Yu’s exile to Chaozhou 潮州 in 819, see his work “Stele of Huangling Temple 黃陵廟碑.” Han Yu was twice exiled to Guangdong and left a couple of works expressing his distaste of this region.
  12. This refers to King Ch’unghye’s banishment by the Yuan in 1344.
  13. This refers to King Ch’ungsŏn’s exile between 1320 and 1324. See also Yŏsa chegang’s entry at Chapter 18 “忠惠王後紀 四年十二月” for a similar commentary on Ch’ungsŏn’s and Ch’unghye’s exiles.
  14. Ikchae was Yi Che-hyŏn 李齊賢 (1287-1367)’s pen name.
  15. P'oŭn was Chŏng Mong-ju 鄭夢周 (1337-1392)’s pen name.
  16. This refers to Zhu Xi’s comment in his preface of Zizhi tongjian gangmu 資治通鑑綱目 (the Annotated Outline of the Comprehensive Mirror).
  17. Sima Guang 司馬光 (1019-1086), a politician and historian of the Northern Song period (960-1127).
  18. This is Sima Qian’s 司馬遷 (c. 145-86 BCE) comment on Xunzi’s 荀子 (c. 313-238 BCE) idea of “following rulers of later generations.” See Shiji 史記, Chapter 15.
  19. Nowadays Fujian province of China. Zhu Xi was born in the Min region and served as an official there.
  20. Chongzhen (r. 1627-1644) was the reign title of the last Ming (1368-1644) emperor. The Chosŏn (1392-1910) state still used the Ming reign title to record time even after the Ming fell in 1644.
  21. Samguk sagi 三國史記
  22. Koryŏsa 高麗史
  23. O Un 吳澐 (1540-1617) completed Tongsa ch'anyo 東史纂要 (Compendium of the History of the East) in 1606.
  24. Tongguk T’onggum 東國通鑑 (Comprehensive Mirror of the Eastern Country)
  25. Kangmok 綱目 (annotated outline), a genre of historical writing.
  26. Both Buddhist ceremonies, respectively the Festival of Lotus Lantern and the Festival of Eight Precepts.