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Chinese History - Jin Empire Government, Administration, and Law

Periods of Chinese History
Superficially seen, the administrative system of the Jin empire 金 (1115-1234), founded by the people of the Jurchens, was much more imitating the traditional Chinese governmental structure of the Chinese Song empire 宋 (960-1279) than that of the Liao empire 遼 (907-1125), founded by the federation of the Khitans. While the founder of the Jin empire, Emperor Taizu 金太祖 (r. 1115-1122), still followed the traditional tribal system of the Jurchens, Emperor Xizong 金熙宗 (r. 1135-1148) and the Prince of Hailing 海陵王 (r. 1149-1160) restructured the administration system, especially because the traditional military hereditary chieftains were not able to administer the newly occupied ares of the Yellow River plain and northern China.
The old tribal chieftains or "princes" of the Jurchen federation (bogilie 勃極烈, becoming Manchu: beile) had the task of advising the khan of the Jurchen federation in political issues. These offices of bogilie were abolished in 1134 and replaced by the traditional Chinese offices of the Three Preceptors (sanshi 三師) and the Three Departments (Sansheng 三省), and of these only the Department of State Affairs (shangshusheng 尚書省) with the Six Ministries (liubu 六部) survived the reform of 1156.
The Jurchen tribes were organized in hereditary military units called company (mouke 謀克, becoming Manchu mukūn; Chinese: baihu 百戶), ten companies building a battalion (meng'an 猛安 "thousand", becoming Manchu minggan; Chinese: qianhu 千戶), a system rendered as meng'an mouke that was in use until the end of Jin as the smallest unit of local administration. Members of the imperial family were also given the Chinese title of imperial prince (guowang 國王), their princedoms being administration units of "commanderies" (junguo 郡國). Under the military pressure from the Mongols, nine military leaders of the Jurchen were enfeoffed with dukedoms (gongguo 公國).
With the conquest of northern China and the Liao empire, the Jurchen adopted more governmental structures of the Chinese administration system at different levels. Within the central government, the censorate (yushitai 御史臺) controlled the officialdom, and the scholars of the Hanlin Academy (Hanlinyuan 翰林院) drafted imperial documents. Other courts (si 寺) and directorates (jian 監) were a copy of the Song administration. Officials were classified into nine different ranks (jiupin 九品) with half-ranks (shangdeng 上等, xiadeng 下等), and official recruitment was undertaken by state examinations, for a certain time after of the southern conquest even held in Jurchen language to promote Jurchen candidates.
Local administration was likewise modeled after the Chinese tradition with 19 routes (lu 路) as the highest unit (governed by area commands, zongguanfu 總管府), prefectures of different kinds (fu 府, zhou 州, jun 郡 - commandery) in the medium level (headed by different commissioners as prefectural military, surveillance, and defence commissioners, shi 使), and the district (xian 縣) as the lowest unit. The highest officials of the routes were rout fiscal, judicial, surveillance and military commissioners. Five routes were directly administered from the five capitals. The earliest and main capital was Huining 會寧, from 1153 on Yanjing 燕京 (or Zhongjing 中京 "Central Capital", modern Beijing), and from 1214 on Nanjing 南京 "Southern Capital" (modern Kaifeng 開封, Henan). The four secondary capitals were governed by a temporary regent staying in the capital to take care of things (liushou 留守).
In the first decades of the Jin period, the military activities were exerted by the companies and battalions of the tribal organization. Liao and Chinese military units were incorporated in their original shape. During the campaigns against the Song empire a Bureau of Military Affairs (shumiyuan 樞密院) was created that should later act as the highest administration unit of the former Song territories. The highest military commanders were marshals (yuanshuai 元帥). The southern battalions and companies gradually transformed into civilian administration units, but in the north, more garrisons (zhen 鎮) were kept intact as means of defense against the northwestern Mongol and Tatar federations. The imperial guards were called hezha mouke 合札謀克.
Law codexes were promulgated after the Jin imperium had grown to the south, Emperor Xizong promulgated the Huangtongzhi 皇統制 codex, Prince Hailing 海陵王 the Xuxiang zhishu 續降制書 codex. Many articles were treating the possession of slaves. Imitating the Tang codex Tanglü shuyi 唐律疏義, Emperor Zhangzong 金章宗 (r. 1189-1208) promulgated the Mingchang 明昌律義 and Taihe lüyi 泰和律義 codexes.
The Jurchen rulers soon recognized the importance of the Chinese examination system to breed able candidates for offices in administration and government. The various educational institutions (Directorate of Education guozijian 國子監, 1151, National University taixue 太學 1166) were taken over from the Liao empire, Confucius was highly venerated as the teacher-saint, and traditional Chinese literature like the Confucian Classics, historiography, the "masters and philosphers", and poetry were highly esteemed as worth being studied by civilized and well-educated people. The way for literate-scholars to obtain an official post was to participate in the state examinations (keju 科舉, introduced 1124) that strictly followed the pattern of the native Chinese dynasties.
Students were examined on the district level (xiangshi 鄉試 "dictrict examinations"), the prefectural level (fushi 府試 "prefectural examination"), state department level (huishi 會試 "capital examination") and in on the palace level (tingshi 廷試 "palace examination"). Graduates were awarded the jinshi 進士 degree, and unlike in the Liao empire, it was allowed for Jurchens to participate in this examination system.
Education was provided in the state schools (guanxue 官學) whose highest was the National University which offered scholarships for up to 400 students. In 1176 the foundation of prefectural schools was ordered, and from 1189 on schools on the district level were founded throughout the empire. A change in this politics of sinification was the introduction of the examination in Jurchen language in 1164 under Emperor Shizong 金世宗 (r. 1161-1189) who promoted a whole education structure in Jurchen parallel to the education and examination system in Chinese. For the learning material, Chinese writings were translated into the Jurchen language. Generally seen, the Jurchen rulers highly estimated education and introduced a kind of compulsatory education for every adult Jurchen, especially for those employed in a state office. For these purposes, practical studies in science were quite important, like medicine. The discipline of Jurchen medicine produced two very famous scholars, Liu Wansu 劉完素 and Zhang Yuansu 張元素. Except attending the national schools (guoxue 國學), it was very popular to engage a private teacher (sijiao 司教), especially among the Jurchen aristocracy. The high esteem for knowledge and scholarship among the Jurchen was reflected in the writings of important scholar-officials like Zhao Bingwen 趙秉文 (collected writings called Xianxian laoren ji 閑閑老人集), Yang Yunyi 楊雲翼 and Wang Ruoxu 王若虛 (collected writings called Hunan yilao ji 滹南遺老集).


2000 ff. © Ulrich Theobald · Mail

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