Ming shi

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  • Chinese/Japanese: 明史 (Míng shǐ / Min shi)

The Míng shǐ is the official History of the Ming Dynasty, compiled by official court scholars of the Qing Dynasty. Begun in the mid-17th century under the Shunzhi Emperor (r. 1643-1661), it was completed in 1736.

The production of official histories was a standard practice throughout much of Chinese history, and had come to follow certain norms of style and content. The project to compile an official history of the Ming began under the Shunzhi Emperor in the mid-17th century, at a time when Ming loyalists were still holding out on Taiwan and elsewhere. Compilers disagreed and debated for some time whether the Southern Ming (the loyalist pretenders) should be legitimized by inclusion in the Official History, and how exactly the reasons behind the fall of the Ming should be described.

The project fell by the wayside for a brief time, but was revived in 1679 by Shunzhi's successor, the Kangxi Emperor. His successor, the Yongzheng Emperor, issued statements commanding that the project must be completed, in order to officially settle debates and disagreements as to the history and its interpretation; creation of a single official interpretation of the history of the Ming Dynasty was crucial for establishing a single official narrative for the legitimacy of the Qing.

The Míng shǐ was finally completed in 1736, roughly one year into the reign of the Qianlong Emperor.


  • Evelyn Rawski, Early Modern China and Northeast Asia: Cross-Border Perspectives, Cambridge University Press (2015), 218-219.