Spring and Autumn Annals
The Spring and Autumn Annalsis the official chronicle of the State of Lu covering the period from the First year of Duke Yin of Lu's reign (722 BC) to the 14th reigning year of Duke Ai of Lu (481 BC). It is the earliest surviving Chinese historical text to be arranged on annalistic principles. The work was traditionally regarded as having been compiled by Confucius.
In his lifetime, Confucius traveled to many states in 14 years and returned to the State of Lu in old age. After that, he read the documents of the state in the capacity of an Elder (a senior consultant of the state) and spread his political ideas and propositions by compiling The Spring and Autumn Annals, hoping that his thoughts would be followed by later generations.
The Spring and Autumn Annals documented the 242-year history of the State of Lu, during which 12 monarchs ruled the country. It also extensively covered the situations in other states as well as the evolution of big events at that time, which historians called "the Spring and Autumn Period". The work mainly focused on the political activities of the ruling class during the Spring and Autumn Period, including punitive expeditions betweenvassal states, alliances-forming meetings and pilgrimages etc.
And some natural phenomena were also featured, such as solar eclipses, lunar eclipses, earthquakes, landfalls, star metamorphoses, floods and insect disasters etc. In addition, economic and cultural events like sacrificial rituals, weddings, funerals, city construction, palaces, hunting trips and land issues were recorded.
The original text of The Spring and Autumn Annals 18,000words long but the existing version only has a little more than 16,000 words. The work is very concise, with proper choice of words and brief accounts. However, The Spring and Autumn Annals are too briefly documented, with some events only having a result with no details of the whole story. Later generations therefore find it hard to understand. A number of works were composed to explain and expand on its meanings. These works are known as "commentaries".
Among all the commentaries, The Commentary of Zuo by Zuo Qiuming, The Commentary of Gongyang by Gongyang Gao and The Commentary of Guliang by Guliang Xi were collectively called "the Three Commentaries on The Spring and Autumn Annals" and included in Confucian classics.
The Spring and Autumn Annals had a great impact on the development of chronicle historical records of later ages, including the well-known Zizhi Tongjian (Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government) compiled by Sima Guang of the Northern Song Dynasty.