An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Tongzhi tiaoge 通制條格, the Yuan Code

Jul 3, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Tongzhi tiaoge 通制條格 "Legislative articles from the Comprehensive Regulations" is a collection of jurisdictional edicts and of laws from the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368). It was part of the collection Da-Yuan tongzhi 大元通制 "Comprehensive regulations of the great Yuan dynasty", the law code of the Yuan.

In 1271 Emperor Shizu 元世祖 (Qubilai Qan, r. 1260-1294) decided to discontinue the law of the Jin dynasty 金 (1115-1234) which were still in use until that date and ordered the compilation of a new law code for the Yuan dynasty. Only in 1291 he was able to issue the Zhiyuan xinge 至元新格 "New rules from the Zhiyuan reign-period", although it did not cover all aspects of jurisdiction, especially not those for the provincial administration.

Administrative law was therefore dealt with in case-to-case edicts issued by the emperor. Only when Emperor Renzong 元仁宗 (r. 1311-1320) ascended to the throne he had all edicts collected concerning the field not yet covered by the law code. The decisions in the edicts were revised and amended, but it took a lot of time until Emperor Yingzong 元英宗 (r. 1320-1323) was finally able to issue the complete code Da-Yuan tongzhi in 1323.

This code consists of 88 juan and is modeled after the two law codes of the Jin period, the Taihe lüling 泰和律令 "Criminal and administrative law of the Taihe reign-period" and the Taihe lüyi 泰和律義 "Explanation of the criminal code of the Taihe reign-period".

Unfortunatley the code is lost except the chapter Tongzhi tiaoge which is preserved in fragments as a Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) manuscript with a length of 22 juan. It was published in 1930 by the National Library of Beiping 國立北平圖書館 in Beijing.

The laws do not largely alter that common during the Tang 唐 (618-907), Song 宋 (960-1279) and Jin periods, a fact which shows that the Yuan dynasty perpetuated the legal tradition of the preceding dynasties. Some laws have the character of temporary and case-related regulations but can be used as well as precedents for similar cases. The Tongzhi tiaoge is an important source material for the study of the administrative and social history of the Yuan period.

Table 1. Contents of the Tongzhi tiaoge 通制條格
戶令 Administration of households
學令 Administration of schools
選舉 Examination and promotion
軍防 Military and defence
儀制 The system of rituals
衣服 Court robes
祿令 Administration of tallies
倉庫 Granaries and arsenals
厩牧 Stables and pastures
田令 Administration of fields
賦役 Tax and corvée
關市 Passes and markets
捕亡 Arrestation of escaped prisoners
賞令 Administration of rewards
醫藥 Medicine and pharmacology
雜令 Miscellaneous administrative matters
僧道 Buddhism and Daoism
營繕 Garrisons
Fang Linggui 方齡貴(1993). "Tongzhi tiaoge xintan 《通制條格》新探", Lishi yanjiu 歷史研究, 1993 (6).
Yao Dali 姚大力 (1992). "Tongzhi tiaoge 通制條格", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1147.