Record of Historical Events in “Zi zhi tong jian” from Beginning to End


Tong jian ji shi ben mo (Record of historical events in Zi zhi tong jian from beginning to end) was the first Chinese historical record compiled with details grouped by event. It was compiled by Yuan Shu of the Southern Song. Yuan Shu (1131‒1205), courtesy name Jizhong, a native of Jian’an, Jianzhou (present-day Jian’ou, Fujian), received his jin shi degree in the first year (1163) of the Longxing era. He was an administrative assistant in Wenzhou, an examiner at the Bureau of Rites, a junior compiler at the Historiography Academy, and an instructor in Yanzhou. While reading Zi zhi tong jiang (Comprehensive mirror to aid in government) compiled by Sima Guang (1019‒86), Yuan Shu found it difficult to gather all details of an event together, because of that work’s vast scope and chronological order. One event might have details spread across several juan and thus lack coherence. So he reorganized the contents of Zi zhi tong jian by each historical event and grouped the events under 239 headings, with 66 additional events in appendices. Under each heading, he recorded the events in chronological sequence. Thus each historical event was self-contained and detailed in sequence from the beginning to the end. The time period covered in the work begins with the early Warring States period, when the feudal state of Jin was divided by the states of Han, Zhao and Wei, and continues through the Sui and Tang to the Five Dynasties, with Emperor Shizong (921‒59) of Later Zhou and his Huainan campaigns that started in 956. Thus 1,300 years of Chinese history in the Zi zhi tong jian became clear at one reading. This topical approach to recounting the details about an important historical event enabled readers to summarize easily the lessons from that event, thus helping them fully contribute to “aid in government.” It also created a new form of history writing, in addition to annals and biographies. The work thus was a great contribution to the development of Chinese historiography. This copy is a printed edition by Zhao Yuban of Huzhou, published in the fifth year (1257) of the Baoyou era. It has 42 juan in 84 volumes. The text comes from the original Zi zhi tong jian written by Sima Guang, but the arrangement and compilation differ. The presentation here includes the two prefaces, the table of contents, and juan 1.

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Subject Date

Publication Information

Zhao Yuban, Huzhou, China


Title in Original Language


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Physical Description

1 juan in 2 volumes


  • Originally comprised of 42 juan in 84 volumes

Last updated: May 31, 2017