This is Part 11 in an annotation of an extract from 吳城日記 (‘Diary of Inner City Suzhou’). It’s the official log of Suzhou (specifically the small, walled area in the centre) from the year 1645, a year after the Manchus took Beijing, marking the end of the Ming dynasty and the beginning of the Qing (明末清初).
As always, if you notice a mistake or have any suggestions, please share them in the comments at the end of the page.
On the fifteenth day, soldiers were allocated to leave through the Feng Gate, on the way they committed violence, and there was one incident which is known of; Wang Huibo of Suzhou is a functioning official under military command at the garrison; the soldiers surged into his house, seized a member of his household, cut them into three pieces and raped his wife and several of his daughters; Huibo was also tied-up and they were going to apply a blade to him, and his property and jewellery were completely plundered; it so happened that an official who had just been sent by the garrison to lead the troops; when the soldiers heard this order they untied him and gave back his wife and daughters, but none of his money.
(職官 is a ‘functioning official’. 標下 means ‘under military command’.)
Huibo rushed to change his residence and fled.
In the south-east corner of the city, particularly many people had been looted and wantonly killed; totally unlike the carefree north-west.
Within one city to have the difference of Heaven and Earth; there really were those who were fortunate and those who were unfortunate.
That night, they piled up stone barricades to block each city gate, to make it easier to defend.
By evening, every residence of the common people had hung a lamp at the door; the strike of the watchman’s rattle at the changing of the hour began at evening.
(支更 is ‘the changing of the hour’.)
On the sixteenth day, outside each of the gates people continued to spy on the crowds coming and going endlessly; they were angry at people inside the city wall who were defending it; they exchanged insults; outside the Chang Gate there was a pile of dry firewood by the barricades; there were those who were about to burn the water gate; on the city walls there were thirty or forty travelling merchants from Shanxi who were good at archery; they shot at them whilst letting people down the wall on ropes; they injured several enemies and then retreated.
(窺伺 means ‘to spy on’ [?].)
In the night several hundred soldiers were sent out by the Feng Gate to suppress the riots; they walked to Huangshi Bridge, gained victory and went back.
That day at dusk, there was a lunar eclipse to the ninth degree, and then it became bright again; in the middle of the night, two arsonists were arrested and beheaded; there were rumours that in the city walls a grain tax might be collected; the masses feared they would suffer; it was decided to order every subsection to prepare two jars of wine, a pig, a goat, a chicken, a goose, dried noodles and so on, and ten pecks of white rice.
(月蝕 is ‘lunar eclipse’.)
All adequately off households gathered it together, they then sent them as provisions with extras; they had no choice but to scheme.
If you found this useful, consider helping me out in return.