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Chinese Legal Tradition Under the Mongols: The Code of 1291 as Reconstructed

Chinese Legal Tradition Under the Mongols: The Code of 1291 as Reconstructed

Paul Heng-chao Ch’en
Copyright Date: 1979
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Chinese Legal Tradition Under the Mongols: The Code of 1291 as Reconstructed
    Book Description:

    The evolution of China's legal tradition was one of the most striking aspects of the transformation of Chinese civilization under Mongolian domination. Paul Ch'en's exploration of the legal system of the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) and its first substantial legal code (the Chih-yuan hsin-ko, or Chih-yiian New Code) provides a key to our understanding of the impact of the Mongols on traditional Chinese law and society.

    Originally published in 1979.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6772-1
    Subjects: Law, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    Paul Heng-chao Ch’en
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xx)

    The developments in Chinese history during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries involved great changes in political thought, intellectual trends, economic activities, and institutional systems. While this period has often been characterized as the “Sung-Yüan-Ming transition” and considered a formative era of modern Chinese civilization, it has not been entirely clear to historians why and how these changes took place at this particular time. Although modern scholarship has tried to explore various aspects of this special period, and to give a satisfactory account for the transformation of Chinese civilization, the effort has encountered great difficulties, mainly because of the unfamiliarity with...


      (pp. 3-40)

      During the Yüan dynasty (1271–1368),¹ owing to the expansion of the Mongolian empire, China’s territory was especially huge and its population ethnically diverse. To establish a unified code for a population of such ethnic diversity was impractical. Before the establishment of the dynasty, the Mongols already had their Mongolian customary law, which they continued to use throughout the period. At the same time, these-mu-jen(miscellaneous aliens) were mostly Muslim and followed their own Islamic law.² Thus it was both impractical and unrealistic to compile a code that would combine traditional Chinese legal principles, Mongolian customary law, and Islamic...

      (pp. 41-68)

      The Yuan dynasty adopted many important legal principles from previous dynasties in establishing its own penal system. The influence of Mongolian law and customs, also provided substantial innovations in the Yüan system. Since the dynasty existed during a period in which the great urban and commercial expansion of Chinese civilization reached its peak, many new principles were institutionalized for the first time in the Yüan legal codes. On the whole, the traditional five punishments (i.e., thewu-hsing) remained the major legal penalties, although significant changes, both in content and in form, also occurred. Some of those changes were uniquely Yüan,...

      (pp. 69-98)

      A well-constructed judicial system was established in the Yüan period to carry out the administration of justice. Although the Yuan system retained the major features of the Chinese judicial framework, it did introduce new legal institutions to China. Institutions such as the joint conference of judicial and administrative officials and censorial supervision, which were established in the Yüan dynasty, not only gave bureaucrats a means of dealing with legal matters, but also provided the public with more effective protection against bureaucratic abuse.

      Because different ethnic groups observed different legal principles and customs, conflicts of law and issues of jurisdiction became...

  7. Part Two: CHIH-YÜAN HSIN-KO

      (pp. 101-106)

      The significance of theChih-yüan hsin-kofirst came to my attention in 1969 when I was asked by Professor Francis W. Cleaves if the code was identical to theChih-yüan hsin-faof Wang Yün.¹ After having studied the origin of theChih-yüan hsin-koand discovering the prominent position of the code in Yüan legal history, I also located many fragments of the code in the course of my reading and research in Yüan history. As I began to piece together these fragments, I tried to arrange them in a coherent way. TheYüan shihrecords that the code contains ten...

      (pp. 107-156)

      [Item I.]² All authorities shall at dawn administer [official] matters. When items scheduled for the day for deliberation are settled, then and only then may they adjourn. All authorities and the Six Boards³ in the capital shall be dependent upon the [Chung-shu-]sheng (Secretarial Council) and the rest of them shall be dependent upon their supervising authorities. However, persons involved in urgent official matters or on night duty shall not be bound by this provision.

      [Item 2.]⁴ With regard to all official matters, if there is any violation of the deadline or of the precedent, the responsible examiner, as matters arise,...

      (pp. 159-166)

      公 規

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      諸 公 事 違 限 違 例 者 皆 當 該 檢 校 人 員 隨 事 擧 問 失 擧 問 者 罪 亦 及 之 其 監 察 御 史 肅 政 廉 訪 司 常 務 糾 彈 毋 容 弛 慢...

    (pp. 167-186)
    (pp. 187-196)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 197-206)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 207-209)