This is Part 8 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.
十一日，水陸各門俱閉，清晨，將北兵來黃紙刊印榜文，粘貼通衢，不綸紳衿氓隸，俱欲剃髮，違者軍法治之。 Day 11: On water and land every gate has been closed without exception; in the early morning, the the general of the northern army came with announcements printed on yellow paper and stuck them in the streets; whether gentry, official, commoner or scribe, all were required to shave their heads; those who disobeyed were dealt with by martial law.
先是，吳江庠生吳鑑，具條陳於縣，與縣公語不合，推仆公案，縣解軍門擊之獄。 First this, then the prefectural student from Wujiang named Wujian sent a memorandum to the county; his words were not in accordance with the county duke; they elected a judiciary assistant *[?]*; the county dealt with the military prison gates being broken. *[???]*
是日，綁出斬之以威眾。 That day, they tied up and beheaded him *[?]* as a warning to the masses.
此友大罵，立而斬首，嚴催官民刈髮。 This friend rained curses, stood and was beheaded; this very much rushed *[?]* the officials and people to get their hair shaved.
本府太尊王，前六月十五日，方束髮冠帶，同新任理刑徐樹藩，恭謁文廟，徐即郡中著姓，先曾應天通判者。 The local supreme governor Wang, last June the 15th, bound his hair and wore a hat, like the newly appointed Chief of Punishment Xu Shufan; he visited the Confucian Temple, and Xu promptly registered his surname in the county *[?]*; first ___ complied with the Mandate of Heaven ___ local magistrate *[??]*.
今補節推，隨署太倉州事。 Today the Provincial Governor's Magistrate was selected and signed into the Taicang division.
奈法行自近，府縣官率先剃頭，不半日間，城中倏然改觀矣。 *[???]*, the county governor took the initiative and shaved his head; before half a day, everyone in the city walls suddenly changed appearance in this way.
鄉紳有翰林陞禮部侍郎徐，投水自盡，心憤激不忍變也。 Of the scholar officials there is the imperial academic at the Ministry of Rites, Assistant Minister Xu, who threw himself in the water to kill himself, his heart unbearably outraged at these changes.
十二日，李公遍請紳衿入見，想欲驗其剃髮與否耳。 Day 12: Mister Li requested all the gentry scholars see him, wishing to examine whether or not they had shaved their heads.
是日，轅門外剁殺。 That day, outside the yamen gate, people were killed.
不剃頭者一人，楓橋聚眾抗拒剃頭，差兵一二百騎往拿，便成瓦解，亦俱就髡。 One man who had not shaved his head gathered a crowd on Maple Bridge to resist the shaving of hair; one or two hundred mounted soldiers were dispatched there, and the crowd was disintegrated, and likewise all of them were shaved.
然人多憤憤不平，召亂之由，未必非此。 Because of this people were increasingly indignant and aggrieved, but the reason for disorder was not necessarily because of this.
十三日昧爽，忽聞砲聲，六門外火起，城門頓開，有民兵先從葑門入，各門陸續俱進，斬木揭竿，間有執戈矛被甲冑者，皆以白裹頭，大都用布，額加紅點，手執二三大明旗號，聲言副總兵吳聖階統蔣、陳、朱、魯諸將入城，精兵雲集矣。 At dawn on Day 13 we suddenly heard cannon starting to fire outside the sixth city wall gate; the city wall gate was temporarily open, and militia first entered through the Turnip Gate; they continued to enter through every gate one after another; they chopped down trees and bamboo; among them were those carrying axes and poles, some were dressed in armour and helmets; they all wore white on their heads, mostly using cloth, and added a red dot to their foreheads; in their hands they held up two or three large Ming banners proclaiming the Deputy Regional Commander Wu Shengjie had with him the generals Jiang, Chen, Zhu and Lu and was entering the city walls where the elite troops gathered. (副總兵 is a Deputy Regional Commander.)
城中民於街衢俱將巨石及木器堆垛，宜意阻礙北兵馬足。 Within the city walls, people piled up large stones and wooden items in the streets with the sole aim of blocking the passage of the northern troop's horses.
凡巷口俱聚街沿石壘塞，僅留小門，容一人俯首出入，人心惶惶，各懷疑懼。 In all the entrances to the alleyways they amassed stone ramparts from stones along the street; they only left a little entranceway which allowed one person with their head bent to go in and out; the people were very anxious, and all harboured uncertainty and fear.
民兵先於閶門外擊毀兵舟二隻，舟中數十人俱斃，聞有名貴要人在焉。 The militia first destroyed two army boats outside the Chang Gate; on the boats several dozen people died violently; we heard that there was a famous person there.
因困於中流，無所施其技故也。 Because they were stuck midstream, none of their [military] skills could be applied.
縱火燒斷閶門吊橋，延及月城內居房俱盡。 They burnt down the drawbridge at Chang Gate; the fire spread within the Moon Gate and the people's houses were all destroyed.
又放火燒府縣署，及都察院、北察院監兌署，俱成煨燼。 Then they set fire to the prefectural and county offices, and the General Censorate, Northern Censorate and the Office for Supervising Exchange; all of those were burnt to ashes.
予見民兵雖多，皆市井鄉村烏合，既不習戰陣，又漫無統領，固決其無能為，喧鬧至晚，漸散去矣。 I saw that although the militia were many, they were all gathered from the village marketplaces, and since they were not used to military formations; also, being very casual, they had no kind of commander; they for sure had no capacity to act; the noise continued up to evening and gradually dissipated.
才其清晨入城時，即呼居民令具飯接濟，有閉戶者，輒加箠擊罵詈。 Right at the time when the clear dawn entered the city wall, they called to the residents and ordered them to provide food and give material assistance; and to those who kept their doors closed they in addition whipped and cursed them.
Series: Diary of Inner City Suzhou
- 吳城日記 translation: Diary of Inner City Suzhou, Part 1
- 吳城日記 translation: Diary of Inner City Suzhou, Part 2
- 吳城日記 translation: Diary of Inner City Suzhou, Part 3
- 吳城日記 translation: Diary of Inner City Suzhou, Part 4
- 吳城日記 translation: Diary of Inner City Suzhou, Part 5
- 吳城日記 translation: Diary of Inner City Suzhou, Part 6
- 吳城日記 translation: Diary of Inner City Suzhou, Part 7
- 吳城日記 translation: Diary of Inner City Suzhou, Part 8 (this article)
- 吳城日記 translation: Diary of Inner City Suzhou, Part 9
- 吳城日記 translation: Diary of Inner City Suzhou, Part 10
- 吳城日記 translation: Diary of Inner City Suzhou, Part 11
- 吳城日記 translation: Diary of Inner City Suzhou, Part 12
- 吳城日記 translation: Diary of Inner City Suzhou, Part 13
- 吳城日記 translation: Diary of Inner City Suzhou, Part 14
- 吳城日記 translation: Diary of Inner City Suzhou, Part 15
- 吳城日記 translation: Diary of Inner City Suzhou, Part 16