“Saving Lives”—Lü Kun’s Manual on City Defense

in Journal of Chinese Military History
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Abstract

The subject of this article is the Book on Saving Lives (Jiuming shu) written by the late Ming scholar-official Lü Kun. The book enjoyed great popularity during the Ming and Qing dynasties and offers practical advice for those who were in charge of city defense. Lü wrote this text in anticipation of imminent social crises. His prime motivation was to save the lives of his fellow countrymen when “bandits” attacked the county seat. The book, which is a survival manual rather than a handbook for magistrates, was written for military non-professionals who would lead the civilian population to defend the county. On the other hand, the text is of a military nature and refers to the military function of Chinese towns.

The majority of the book deals with military preparedness. Although the book also discusses various aspects of city defense such as weapons, tactics, fortification, training, and military law, Lü himself lacked combat experience. In this respect, the book illustrates a dilemma: The defense of small cities lay beyond the scope of the central government. This placed the responsible officials in a difficult and contradictory situation. The magistrate, for example, was not prepared for the job. He lacked military experience but had to lead the local population into war. Despite his power, he depended on the cooperation of the people, including the assistance of rich families and the support of armed villagers skilled in martial arts. In this way, Lü Kun’s treatise illustrates the consequences of earlier political decisions to concentrate the military on the northern border and around the capital.

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1

Tong 1991, 49.

2

Robinson 2001, 47.

3

Swope 2008, 130.

4

Brook 1998, 154.

5

Graff and Higham 2003, 1.

6

Franke 1974.

7

See, for example, Farmer 2000, Fang 2007, and Cheung 2009.

8

Des Forges 2009.

9

Swope 2008, 123-54.

10

See Kerlouégan 2002, 241-43.

17

Lü Kun, Jiuming shu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1985).

20

See Kerlouégan 2002, 241-43.

21

Han Lin, Shenshou yaolu, 21, 24-25.

22

Han Lin, Shenshou yaolu, 3.

23

See, for example, Fan Jingwen, Zhanshou quanshu, 131.

24

Qian Zhan, Chengshou choulüe, 370. See also JMS, 759.

26

See Handlin 1975, 80.

27

Nian Gengyao, Zhiping shengsuan quanshu, 72. See also JMS, 764.

28

See Yuan Gonggui, Pingpi baijin fang, 68. I am grateful to the anonymous reviewer who pointed out to me that the book was compiled by Ming loyalists in the very last years of the Ming and republished in 1788 under the name of Yuan Gonggui.

29

Liang Zhangju, Tuian suibi, 164.

30

Wang Peixun, Xiangyuan yijiu lu, 268.

31

Zhu Lu, Fangshou jicheng, 733. See JMS, 763.

33

Tong 1991, 49.

34

Tong 1991, 53.

39

Chen et al. 1997, vol. 5, 4494.

45

Kerlouégan 2002, 239.

50

Fei 2009, 76.

51

MS, ch. 90, 2200. For the location see Tan 1982, vol. 7, 57-58.

52

Des Forges 2003, 174.

53

Liew 1998, vol. 2, 121.

56

Nimick 1993, 121.

57

MS, ch. 75, 1850.

58

Jiang 2005, 243.

59

Nimick 1993, 146.

60

Jiang 2005, 55.

61

Yang 1959, 137.

62

Lehmann 1998, 196 (my translation).

65

de Bary and Bloom 1999, vol. 1, 590.

66

Handlin 1983, 20.

67

See Xu 1990, 21.

68

Nimick 1993, 9.

69

See Yang 1959, 137-38.

70

For the specification see Yang 1959, 161-63.

71

MS, ch. 75, 1850.

72

Nimick 1993, 28.

81

Cheung 2009, 89.

93

Chen et al. 1997, vol. 1, 515.

94

MS, ch. 204, 5395.

95

Chen 1994, 84.

96

Brook 2005, 199.

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Brook 2005, 36.

98

MS, ch. 91, 2249.

101

Chen et al. 1997, vol. 1, 859.

108

SZL, 173. Cited in Robinson 2001, 199, note 125.

109

For a detailed account, see Robinson 2001.

110

Robinson 2001, 123.

111

Heijdra 1998, 530.

112

Swope 2008, 144.

114

For the whole account, see Fei 2009, 76-102.

140

Goodrich and Fang 1976, vol. 1, 1007.

151

Swope 2008, 128.

157

Lendy 1857, 25.

160

Eberhard 1952, 45.

186

MS, ch. 92, 2258.

189

See Farmer 2000, 461.

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Franke 1987, 58.

208

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218

Qi Jiguang, Jixiao xinshu, 603-605.

221

Jiang 2005, 136.

222

Franke 1970, 17.

223

Yates 2009, 43.

224

Swope 2008, 144.

225

Yates 2009, 43.

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