Survey of the Legitimate and Illegitimate Dynasties in History


This work, in four juan and four volumes, is a manuscript edition without prefaces or postscripts. The author, Shen Defu (1578–1642), lived during the Ming dynasty. A native of Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, Shen was known mainly for his literary works. He received the degree of ju ren in 1618. The following year he participated in the examination held by the Bureau of Rites (for the degree of jin shi), but he failed. Shen had devoted his time to writing and his main work, Wanli ye huo bian (Miscellaneous notes on the dynasties up to the Wanli period), was completed during 1606–7. After the unsuccessful examination, he returned home and compiled this supplement to his earlier work. The supplement is a history of the dynasties beginning with the western Jin (265–316) and ending with the Sui dynasty (581–618). The work was published posthumously. Some official persecution of authors at the time related to the naming taboo, which prohibited speaking or writing the given names of exalted persons in China, such as the emperors. Given that this work includes use of the usually taboo name of  Kangxi (reigned 1662–1722), it can be assumed that it was issued prior to the Kangxi period. The title of the work refers to the historically prevalent theory of legitimism in China, the doctrine of regime legitimacy based on the mandate of Heaven, which had a profound influence on the historiography in ancient China.

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4 juan, 4 volumes


  • Manuscript copy

Last updated: January 3, 2018