Newly Printed Collection of Essential Thoughts of the Grand Scribe Chen Zizhuang on the Management of State Affairs


A native of Nanhai, Guangdong Province, the author Chen Zizhuang (died 1647) was a child prodigy who achieved his jin shi degree in 1619 and became a compiler at the Hanlin Academy. Later he was the grand academician of the East Hall and a minister of the Ministry of Rites and the Ministry of War at the end of the Ming dynasty. Because of his straightforwardness, he was not always popular in the court and was removed from his post. He retired to Mount White Clouds and established a poetry society. He later was recalled to the court and eventually came to occupy high positions. He was one of the three local officials who led the Pearl River delta resistance, fighting against the invading Manchu forces, and he died in the Ming cause. He was captured and hacked to death outside the city of Guangzhou. Considered martyrs, such local resistance heroes became symbols of courage and loyalty in Guangdong’s local history. Chen published a number of works, including Xin ke Chen tai shi jing ji yan ji yao (Newly printed collection of essential thoughts of the Grand Scribe Chen Zizhuang on the management of state affairs), which he compiled in earlier years and which was edited by Chen Dingxin, a Ming Salt Monopoly officer in charge of state-controlled production and distribution of salt. The work was printed during the Tianqi reign (1621‒27). Each of the 12 juan covers Chen Zizhuang’s views, opinions, and policy ideas on a particular subject. All of the subjects concern the management of state affairs, beginning with the virtues of a good monarch in juan 1, continuing with selection and duties of officials, education, sacrificial rites, defense and border protection, military buildup and military land colonies, taxation, punishments, and personal behavior such as courteousness, modesty, and so forth. The last juan contains miscellaneous essays. Chen Zizhuang’s preface bears two seal impressions and is dated 1625. The Library of Congress collections include another of his works, a continuation of this one.

Last updated: January 10, 2018