New Book of Tang

The New Book of Tang (pinyin: Xīn Tángshū), generally translated as "New History of the Tang", or "New Tang History", is a work of official history covering the Tang dynasty in ten volumes and 225 chapters. The work was compiled by a team of scholars of the Song dynasty, led by Ouyang Xiu and Song Qi.

It was originally simply called the Tangshu (Book of Tang) until the 18th century.

New Book of Tang
Traditional Chinese新唐書
Simplified Chinese新唐书


In Chinese history, it was customary for dynasties to compile histories of the dynasty preceding them as a means of cementing their own legitimacy. As a result, during the Later Jin dynasty of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, a history of the preceding Tang dynasty, the Old Book of Tang (唐書) had already been compiled.

In 1044, however, Emperor Renzong of Song ordered a new compilation of Tang history, based on his belief that the original Old Book of Tang was wanting in organisation and comprehensiveness. The process took 17 years, being finally presented in 1060.


The New Book of Tang differed dramatically in its organisation and contents from the older version, in part due to the literary and philosophical inclinations of its chief compilers. Ouyang Xiu frequently invoked the principle of reason in evaluating historical accounts, and purged all accounts containing elements of myth or superstition, thereby dramatically shortening many of the biographies of emperors and major figures.[1]

In contrast, the New Book of Tang included several new sections of more practical interest to Tang history. These included a much expanded series of Treatises (), including topics on the horse trade with Tibet and military affairs, and a table of the bureaucratic hierarchy of the Tang administration which was missing from the old Old Book of Tang.[2] Another feature which was revived was the use of Tables (), annalistic tables of events and successions which included not just the emperors themselves but also chancellors and jiedushi.

The style of prose in the New Book also differed, due to Ouyang Xiu and Song Qi being both admirers of the simplified, 'ancient' prose style of Tang scholars such as Han Yu, rather than the flowery prose style found in official Tang documents. This led them to change the original wordings in the documents that they quoted in the book. However, in the reduction, the direct use of Tang court records was lost, some reduced passages were unclear, and many errors were introduced in attempting to find more 'ancient' words to rephrase the Tang originals.[3]


The annals of the Tang emperors are covered in volumes 1–10. Wilkinson notes that the annals in the New Book of Tang are considerably shorter than the Old Book of Tang.[4]


The treatises are contained in volumes 11 through 60. As noted above the treatises are greatly expanded compared with the Old Book of Tang. The section on Rites and Music (禮樂) is the largest occupying 12 volumes (11-22). The New Book of Tang was the first of the standard histories to include a treatise on selecting and appointing officials (選舉志). This included a description of the examination system, which had become an increasingly important aspect of recruiting officials in the Tang, especially after 780. [5]


The tables are contained in volumes 61-75.


Four biographies of women appear in this new book that were not present in the first Old Book of Tang. The women kill or maim themselves in horrible ways, and represent examples of Tang dynasty women that were intended to deter contemporary readers from extreme behavior. For example, Woman Lu gouges her own eye out to assure her ailing husband that there will be no second man after him. Biographies of 35 overly filial and fraternal men are also included in the work, though these men do not resort to the extremes of female mutilation found in the female biographies.[1]

See also



  1. ^ a b Davis, Richard L. (2001). "Chaste and Filial Women in Chinese Historical Writings of the Eleventh Century". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 121 (2): 204–218. doi:10.2307/606561. JSTOR 606561.
  2. ^ From a description by Wang Yingling, in his Yuhai (玉海)
  3. ^ Endymion Wilkinson. Chinese History: A New Manual. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series New Edition; Second, Revised printing March 2013: ISBN 9780674067158), 737.
  4. ^ Wilkinson (2015), p. 737.
  5. ^ Twitchett (2009), pp. 90-91.


Works cited
  • Twitchett, Denis (2009). Writing of Official History under the T’ang. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
  • Wilkinson, Endymion Porter (2015). Chinese History: a New Manual. Cambridge and London, England: Harvard University Asia Center.

External links

Cao Que

Cao Que (曹確), courtesy name Gangzhong (剛中), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Yizong.

Chancellor of the Tang dynasty

The chancellor (Chinese: 宰相; pinyin: zǎixiàng) was a semi-formally designated office position for a number of high-level officials at one time during the Tang dynasty. This list includes chancellors of the reign of Wu Zetian, which she referred to as the "Zhou dynasty" (周), rather than "Tang" (唐).

Cui Guicong

Cui Guicong (崔龜從), courtesy name Xuangao (玄告), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Xuānzong.

Du Huangchang

Du Huangchang (杜黃裳) (738 or 739 – October 12, 808), courtesy name Zunsu (遵素), formally Duke Xuan of Bin (邠宣公) or Duke Xuanxian of Bin (邠宣獻公), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Shunzong and Emperor Xianzong. He was credited for setting the tone for Emperor Xianzong's hardline stance against warlords, leading to the restoration of imperial authority over the entire empire during Emperor Xianzong's reign.

Emperor Xuanzong of Tang

Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (; 8 September 685 – 3 May 762), also commonly known as Emperor Ming of Tang or Illustrious August, personal name Li Longji, also known as Wu Longji (Chinese: 武隆基) from 690 to 705, was the seventh emperor of the Tang dynasty in China, reigning from 713 to 756 CE. His reign of 43 years was the longest during the Tang dynasty. In the early half of his reign he was a diligent and astute ruler. Ably assisted by capable chancellors like Yao Chong, Song Jing and Zhang Yue, he was credited with bringing Tang China to a pinnacle of culture and power. Emperor Xuanzong, however, was blamed for over-trusting Li Linfu, Yang Guozhong and An Lushan during his late reign, with Tang's golden age ending in the Anshi Rebellion.

Flying cash

Flying cash (飛錢) is a type of paper negotiable instrument used during China's Tang dynasty invented by merchants but adopted by the state. Its name came from their ability to transfer cash across vast distances without physically transporting it. It is a precursor to true banknotes which appeared during the Song dynasty.

According to the New Book of Tang, in the year 804, merchants were using flying cash. Between 805 and 820 there was a shortage of copper cash coins which proved to be a hindrance for daily business transactions in the Tang dynasty. The creation of the flying cash happened after a tax reform that allowed for the partial acceptance of taxes in money, which had increased the demand for currency which scared the government that merchants would remove cash coins from the capital to circulate so they ordered the local governments to set up monetary systems based on silk, other fabrics, and daily items akin to barter which hampered long-distance trade in the Tang dynasty and harmed the national economy. The people that had the largest benefit from the introduction of flying cash were tea merchants and these merchant helped improve the trade between the capital and the regions.

Originally the government of the Tang dynasty was less than receptive to the idea of bills of exchange and had attempted banning them on multiple occasions, but in 812 flying cash were officially accepted as a valid means of exchange. After the government had accepted these bills the supervision of flying cash was handled by the Ministry of Revenue (戶部), the Tax Bureau (度支司), and the Salt Monopoly Bureau (鹽錢司). The state began printing their own notes. Flying cash would remain in use until the early period of the Song dynasty.

Gao Ying

Gao Ying (高郢) (740 – July 24, 811), courtesy name Gongchu (公楚), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Dezong and Emperor Shunzong.

Li Daozong

Li Daozong (Chinese: 李道宗) (603?-656?), courtesy name Chengfan (承範), was an imperial prince of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty. He was a cousin of Emperor Taizong, and in Emperor Taizong's reign commanded forces in campaigns against Eastern Tujue, Tuyuhun, Goguryeo, and Xueyantuo. In 653, during the reign of Emperor Taizong's son Emperor Gaozong, Li Daozong offended Emperor Gaozong's uncle, the powerful chancellor Zhangsun Wuji, and Zhangsun exiled him to Xiang Prefecture (roughly modern Laibin, Guangxi), on accusation that he associated with the treasonous Fang Yi'ai (房遺愛). Li Daozong died on the way to exile.

Li Jing (Tang dynasty)

Li Jing (571 – July 2, 649), courtesy name Yaoshi, posthumously known as Duke Jingwu of Wei (also spelled as Duke of Wey), was a Chinese general who lived in the early Tang dynasty and was most active during the reign of Emperor Taizong. In 630, Li Jing defeated the Göktürks, led by Jiali Khan, with just 3,000 cavalry soldiers in a surprise attack, allowing the Tang Empire to subjugate the Göktürks and reduce them to the status of a vassal under the Tang Empire. Li Jing and Li Shiji are considered the two most prominent early Tang generals.

Old Book of Tang

The Old Book of Tang, or simply the Book of Tang, is the first classic historical work about the Tang dynasty, comprising 200 chapters, and is one of the Twenty-Four Histories. Originally compiled during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, it was superseded by the New Book of Tang which was compiled in the Song dynasty, but later regained acceptance.

The credited editor is chief minister Liu Xu, but the bulk (if not all) of the editing work was actually completed by his predecessor Zhao Ying. The authors include Zhang Zhao, Jia Wei (賈緯), and Zhao Xi (趙熙).

Ouyang Xiu

Ouyang Xiu (1 August 1007 – 22 September 1072), courtesy name Yongshu, also known by his art names Zuiweng ("Old Drunkard") and Liu Yi Jushi ("Retiree Six-One"), was a Chinese essayist, historian, poet, calligrapher, politician, and epigrapher of the Song dynasty. A much celebrated writer, both among his contemporaries and in subsequent centuries, Ouyang Xiu is considered the central figure of the Eight Masters of the Tang and Song. It was he who revived the Classical Prose Movement (first begun by the two Tang dynasty masters two centuries before him) and promoted it in imperial examinations, paving the way for future masters like Su Shi and Su Zhe.

Ouyang Xiu's interests as a writer were remarkably diverse. As a historian, he was put in charge by Emperor Renzong of Song of creating the New Book of Tang, which was completed in 1060. He also wrote in his spare time the Historical Records of the Five Dynasties, the only book in the Twenty-Four Histories to have been written in private by a single author. As a poet, he was a noted writer of both the ci and shi genres. But it was his prose writings like Zuiweng Tingji that won him the greatest acclaim. Treatises from Ouyang's voluminous oeuvre range from studies of flowers to literary criticism and political commentaries.

Politically, Ouyang Xiu was one of the major proponents of the Qingli Reforms of the 1040s. When lead reformer Fan Zhongyan fell from power in 1045, Ouyang was also demoted to posts away from the capital. He returned to the central government only in 1054, and gradually moved up the bureaucratic ladder again, until in 1060 he was made the assistant councilor of the state. He retired from politics in 1071, after vehemently (and unsuccessfully) opposing the New Policies of Wang Anshi, whose career he very much helped.

Peroz III

Peroz III (Middle Persian: 𐭯𐭩𐭫𐭥𐭰‎, Persian: پیروز "the Victor"; Chinese: 卑路斯; pinyin: Bēilùsī) was son of Yazdegerd III, the last Sasanian king of Persia. After the death of his father, who legend says was killed by a miller for his clothes and jewelry (when the governor of Merv might have been the real culprit), he retreated to territory under the control of Tang Dynasty China. He served as a Tang general and the head of the Governorate of Iran, an exiled extension of the Sassanid court. Most of what is known of Peroz III is written in the Old Book of Tang and the New Book of Tang.

Wang Bodang

Wang Bodang was a general in Wagang Army which rebelled in Sui dynasty. He is also a highly celebrated and praised figure in Chinese popular culture because of his bravery and loyalty.

Wei Chengqing

Wei Chengqing (韋承慶) (640?–706?), courtesy name Yanxiu (延休), formally Viscount Wen of Fuyang (扶陽溫子), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during Wu Zetian's reign.

Xiao Zhizhong

Xiao Zhizhong (Chinese: 蕭至忠; died July 29, 713?) was an official of the Chinese Tang dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian's sons Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong and grandsons Emperor Shang and Emperor Xuanzong. He was known for his willingness to point out corruption in high-level officials, but was later himself implicated as a partisan of the powerful Princess Taiping (Emperors Zhongzong's and Ruizong's sister) and executed in 713 when Emperor Xuanzong suppressed Princess Taiping's party.

Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong

Zhang Yizhi (張易之) (died February 20, 705), formally the Duke of Heng (恆公), nickname Wulang (五郎), and Zhang Changzong (張昌宗) (died February 20, 705), formally the Duke of Ye (鄴公), nickname Liulang (六郎), were two brothers who served as officials of Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty and became very powerful late in her reign. Both brothers were killed in a coup that overthrew Wu Zetian in 705.

Zheng Su

Zheng Su (鄭肅), courtesy name Aijing (乂敬), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Wuzong and Emperor Wuzong's uncle Emperor Xuānzong.

Zhou Chi

Zhou Chi (周墀) (793 – March 23, 851), courtesy name Desheng (德升), formally the Baron of Ru'nan (汝南男), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Xuānzong.

Zhu Ci

Zhu Ci (Chinese: 朱泚; 742–784) was a general and rebel leader of the Chinese Tang dynasty. He initially served as military governor (Jiedushi) of Lulong Circuit (盧龍, headquartered in modern Beijing), but later became a general for the imperial government. Resentful that he was removed from his command due to the rebellion by his brother Zhu Tao, when Emperor Dezong of Tang fled the capital Chang'an after a mutiny, Zhu Ci declared himself emperor of a new state of Qin (later changed to Han). He was defeated and forced to flee Chang'an in 784 and was killed in flight.

Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinXīn Tángshū
Wade–GilesHsin T'angshu
Southern Min
Hokkien POJSin Tông-su
Works by Ouyang Xiu
Historical and biographical works


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