Đại Việt sử lược
Copy of Đại Việt sử lược, in Siku Quanshu
|Subject||History of Vietnam|
The Đại Việt sử lược (literally Abridged Chronicles of Đại Việt) or Việt sử lược (越史略, Abridged Chronicles of Viet) is an historical text that was compiled during the Trần Dynasty. The 3-volume book was finished around 1377 and covered the history of Vietnam from the reign of Triệu Đà to the collapse of the Lý Dynasty. During the Fourth Chinese domination of Vietnam, the book, together with almost all official records of the Trần Dynasty, was taken away to China and subsequently collected in the Siku Quanshu. Đại Việt sử lược is considered the earliest chronicles about the history of Vietnam that remains today.
History of compilation
The exact date of the compilation of Đại Việt sử lược was unknown but due to the last record of the book, which was the era name of Trần Phế Đế, the compilation was likely finished around 1377. The author of the book was unknown as well but there are several sources who claim it was the historian Sử Hy Nhan who took charge of the compilation. Ranked first in the 1363 imperial examination, Sử Hy Nhan was so famous for his knowledge of history that the Trần emperor decided to change his family name from Trần to Sử (which means "history" in Vietnamese). Another source reckoned that Đại Việt sử lược was a condensed version of the Đại Việt sử ký which was written by Lê Văn Hưu in 1272, or only the book Việt chí (Annals of Viet) by Trần Phổ with the supplements of Trần Dynasty's era names, but they could not verify these two hypotheses because of the lack of historical evidences.
During the Fourth Chinese domination, many valuable books of Đại Việt were taken away by the Ming Dynasty, including the Đại Việt sử ký, and subsequently were lost. Although being transferred to China, Đại Việt sử lược was still preserved in its original form and was published in the Siku Quanshu of the Qing Dynasty under the name Việt sử lược, the first character Đại (大, means Great) was left out to suit the Chinese notion of propriety and historical tradition. Therefore, the book is considered the earliest annals about history of Vietnam that remains today and the most important book which was brought back to Vietnam from China. In 1978, Đại Việt sử lược became the first historical book of Vietnam that was translated directly from Hán tự to Russian.
The Đại Việt sử lược was written in Hán tự and covered the history of Vietnam from the reign of Triệu Đà (2nd century BCE) to the collapse of the Lý Dynasty (1225) with a supplemental list of era names of Trần emperors from Trần Thái Tông to Trần Phế Đế. The contents of Đại Việt sử lược were divided into three volumes (quyển), the first called Quốc sơ diên cách corresponded with the period from the foundation of Văn Lang, the first nation of Vietnam in the 7th century BCE to the 12 Lords Rebellion (10th century), the second and third books were named Nguyễn kỷ (Period of the Nguyễn) and narrated the reign of the Lý Dynasty with the royal family name Lý was changed to Nguyễn by the Trần Dynasty in order to avoid the given name of Trần Lý, grandfather of the emperor Trần Thái Tông, and make people forget the former dynasty. The quality of compilation of Đại Việt sử lược was not coherent, there were periods which were recorded in details but also some very brief sections. The author of Đại Việt sử lược appeared to attach special importance to the reign of the Lý Dynasty with extensive records while the compilation of the period up to the middle of the 10th century was mainly based on Chinese sources.
- Patricia M. Pelley Postcolonial Vietnam: new histories of the national past Duke University 2002 p274 "100. Lê Văn Hưu presented Đại Việt sử ký to the Trần emperor Thánh Tông in 1272; An Nam chí lược was completed around 1340 by Lê Tắc, who expatriated to China, and Đại Việt sử lược was probably finished in the 1380s. "
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