Zhang Wenzhong’s Memorial Replies to the Emperor


Zhang Wenzhong’s original name was Zhang Cong (1475‒1539). As the pronunciation of Cong was the same as that of Emperor Jiajing’s personal name, his name was changed to Fujing. Zhang received his jin shi degree at the age of 47 after seven attempts; however, after he entered the government service, he quickly became Grand Secretary of the Imperial Library, and six years later became the Grand Cabinet Secretary. He was once removed from his post, accused of abuse of authority, but was recalled a month later and resumed his position until he retired in 1532. After his death, he was bestowed the posthumous title of Wenzhong. He played an important role in the so-called “Great Ritual Controversy” in the Ming dynasty. Emperor Jiajing, a nephew of the previous emperor, Hongzhi, whose son Zhengde died without an heir, decided to elevate posthumously his own parents to the imperial rank, instead of a customary posthumous adoption of the previous emperor. Zhang Fujing took the emperor’s side and in several of his memorials he referred to Emperor Zhongzong of the Tang dynasty as the precedent, and expounded on the relationship between a father, a son, and an uncle. This collection of his memorials is a reprinted Wanli edition with the preface dated 1614. It was edited by Yang He (died 1635), a censor and an official in military affairs. The Library of Congress also has a companion work of Zhang Fujing’s memorials, entitled Luo Shan zou shu (Memorials from Luo Shan). Memorials, presented by officials to the emperor, especially by such a high official, often with proposals for action, functioned as the chief documentary media in facilitating the communication between the emperor and his officials and serve as important historical resources for the study of the history of China.

Last updated: January 10, 2018