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  • RESEARCH ARTICLES
    Niu Zihan
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(2): 135-152. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0008-8

    Rule of virtue and rule of law are institutional tools for maintaining social order. This paper selects typical cases recorded in “Biographies of Honest and Law-Abiding” in the official history and summarizes the practices and experiences of the ancient rulers in implementing the rule of virtue and the rule of law in the practice of governance. The honest and upright officials with the rule of virtue as the foundation aimed to develop the economy, benefit the people and enrich the people, and then teach them and promote ethical indoctrination. However, they did not rely on indoctrination alone, and those who could not be indoctrinated were punished according to law. Punishment was based on indoctrination. Litigation was transformed into a process of indoctrination as much as possible, and the rule of virtue and the rule of law were integrated with the process of litigation. Through indoctrination, the Confucian ideal of “no litigation” was gradually achieved. However, with the development of the commodity economy, social problems became more complex. Some local officials went to great lengths to pursue “zero litigation” in order to flaunt their achievements,which however deviated from the Confucian concept of “benevolent government.”

  • Research Articles
    Li Wencai
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(4): 421-442. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0026-8

    The centralized system in ancient China originated from patriarchal cooperative agriculture in the pre-national era. The centralized system of government was established in the Xia, Shang, and Zhou “kingship power” era. In the “imperial power” era from the Qin Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty, the authoritarian centralized system with imperial power as the core was increasingly strengthened. The evolution from “kingship power” to “imperial power” was an inevitable trend of China’s historical development, and the centralized power system had also been strengthened. As a dominant ideology, the thought of “Great Unity” provided a theoretical cornerstone for the centralized system in ancient China; the centralized system in ancient China provided the institutional guarantee for the official status of the idea of “Great Unity.” The system of centralization has been continuous in Chinese history, perfectly adaptable to Chinese traditional society, and interchangeable with the idea of “Great Unity,” providing an ideological basis and institutional guarantee for the formation, continuation, and development of a unified multi-ethnic country in China. The thought of “Great Unity” and centralization are the common values of the Chinese nation, which can provide useful reference for the current road of modernization.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLES
    Dai Jianguo
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(2): 196-220. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0011-6

    The large-scale special law sources in the Song Dynasty were diverse, and the special law in Tang Shi and Tang Liusi Ge opened the source of Song special laws. In addition to inheriting and drawing on special laws from the Tang and the Five Dynasties, the Song Dynasty also independently enacted a series of special laws in accordance with its own governance needs. Special laws were compiled from the emperor’s order, and their effectiveness rank was no longer lower than Ling like in the Tang Shi. In the seventh year of Yuanfeng reign, the code was reformed and was divided into four types: Chi, Ling, Ge, and Shi. Besides general laws, special laws could also be divided into different types: Chi, Ling, Ge, and Shi. In the construction of the new legal system, the special code pedigree of the Tang Ling was absorbed and inherited by the Song Ling. At this point, the new legal system and the dual structure of common laws and special laws in the Song Dynasty were formally formed.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLES
    Peng Kaixiang, Lin Zhan
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(2): 221-258. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0012-3

    The continuous growth of regulations in the Qing Dynasty has been documented and explained by voluminous literature. However, this study finds that this literature does not capture the full picture. The upward trend in the number of new regulations in The Great Qing Code is not sustained throughout the entire Qing Dynasty. Additionally, there are differences between various types of new regulations. The growth of regulations mainly occurs before the middle period of the Qianlong reign, but afterwards there is a decline. However, the decline in the growth rate of new regulations and precedents of the central government departments of the bureaucracy is relatively weaker and not as sustained as regulations in The Great Qing Code. With the change in the number, the structure of the regulations has also changed. The importance of “enacting regulations based on cases” increases compared with “enacting regulations based on high rank officers’ suggestions.”The tendency toward “criminalization” in The Great Qing Code is also strengthened. In the meantime, “governing officials” remains the main source of central regulations for The Great Qing Code. Governing officials also shapes the relationship between local government and society, and this provides a bit of room for private regulations to gain legal validity indirectly. This source of legislation increases the adaptability of the governance of the Qing Dynasty.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLES
    Huang Chengbing
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(3): 306-340. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0019-2

    The title of jinshi (presented scholar) was normally conferred upon graduates of the metropolitan and palace examinations. Exceptions did exist, since some would be granted by the special grace of an emperor. This phenomenon began to appear in the late Tang Dynasty, but it was only an occasional measure, used by an emperor to exert the “imperial control over the power of election of civil officials” other than the keju (imperial examinations). Through the development during the period of the Five Dynasties and the early Song Dynasty, the attainment of the jinshi title by special grace gradually became institutionalized. At the same time, the ci jinshi (granting of jinshi by imperial grace) became normalized in the early Song Dynasty, namely, all those passing the jinshi examinations were granted as jinshi, and those passing other examinations of various subjects were also granted corresponding academic titles. This marks that all those who attained an academic title were produced under the “imperial control over the power of election of civil officials.” In the late Tang Dynasty and the Five Dynasties, the rulers took many measures to solve the problems of the imperial examination. However,it was not until the early Song Dynasty that such problems were solved to some extent when the imperial authority was enacted in the imperial examination system. At that time, with the presence of the normalized ci jinshi and the palace examination (the final imperial examination presided over by the emperor), the imperial authority and its control over the power of election of civil officials was represented by the jinshi scholars granted by special grace.

  • Abstracts
    Chen Baoliang
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(2): 259-265. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0013-0

    Abstracts

  • RESEARCH ARTICLES
    Jing Yu
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(2): 153-176. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0009-5

    For a long time, scholars viewed the relationship between virtue and law from the perspective of dichotomy, or viewed the nature of ancient Chinese “law is punishment.” Based on the proposition that virtue and law complement and harmonize with each other by pre-Qin Confucians, contemporary scholars propose the integration of virtue and law and the concept of “virtuous rule of law.” From the perspective of historical development, law is a governance tool adapted to the complexity of society and the need to enrich the country and strengthen the army. From the logic of the development of political thoughts, law is a proposition to realize “impartiality” and oppose “partiality,” which has the spiritual essence of universality, objectivity, and impartiality. According to Xunzi, law is a system of love based on justice and principles; ritual rules have not only the function of social norms, but also the function of moral education. The aim of law, established, deliberated, and practiced by persons of character, is to achieve a kingly virtue-centered society full of rite, music, justice, order, harmony, and happiness. In Xunzi’s political philosophy, the idea of “virtuous rule of law” is finally realized.

  • Book Excerpt
    Xu Xuemei
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(4): 541-543. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0032-7

    Book Excerpt

  • RESEARCH ARTICLES
    Jiang Bo
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(3): 291-305. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0018-5

    “Incompetence” originally meant that one thing cannot withstand other things. During the Warring States period, the word gradually became a common term for describing officials who were unable to do their job properly. There are many records of “incompetent” officials in the bamboo and wooden slips and handed down documents of the Han Dynasty in the Juyan area, and the meanings of the word had been further expanded in the Han Dynasty to include not only insufficient personal ability, but also negligence, poor health, weak personality, and poor performance assessment results. In the Han Dynasty, the most common treatment of incompetent officials was dismissal. Depending on specific circumstances, their punishments included dismissal from one official position and reassignment to another or, in the most common case, dismissal from all official positions. In addition, their superiors or recommenders were also held accountable. As compared to other types of incompetent officials, the weak and those frontier incompetent ones were more severely punished. The refinement and differentiation in identifying and punishing “incompetent” officials in the Han Dynasty were the result of the development of the ancient bureaucratic system itself and also a reflection of the Han Dynasty’s expanding territory and increasing achievements.

  • Bibliography
    An Ziyu
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(2): 266-267. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0014-7

    Bibliography

  • RESEARCH ARTICLES
    Wang Jinfeng
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(3): 271-290. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0017-8

    Shusi Ding official system in the Shang Dynasty, Hougang in Anyang, circular pit, Shusi Ding, transfer of officialsShusi Ding unearthed in the circular pit of Hougang in Anyang, Henan Province, is an important ware of the late Shang Dynasty. Its owner is Shusi, whose name came from the combination of his official position title “Shu” and his clan name “Si.” In the inscriptions of Shusi Ding, the character regarded by most scholars as “zong,” is actually “zai.” It was a new position granted to Shusi by the king of the Shang Dynasty, and Shusi’s official position was changed from “shu” to “zai.” This phenomenon triggers our discussion on the transfer of officials in the Shang Dynasty. The officials of the Shang Dynasty were highly mobile in terms of taking office, promotion, demotion, dismissal, and position change. The flexible transfer of officials in the Shang Dynasty reminds us of the need to re-evaluate the development of the official system in the Shang Dynasty.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLES
    Yan Yaozhong
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(2): 177-195. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0010-9

    Lü Simian has been regarded as the leading historian among those who made comprehensive and systematic studies on the system in the Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern dynasties. There are many thought-provoking contents in his papers and monographs about the legal system of the Northern Wei Dynasty. As a minority regime that ruled the Central Plains, the Northern Wei Dynasty witnessed many problems in the judicial practice between Xianbei’s traditional customary law and criminal law written in Chinese characters. The process of overcoming various conflicts formed thereby was intertwined with the sinicization of Xianbei. Therefore, the treatment process of the Northern Wei regime contained deep political wisdom and had important influences on later generations.

  • Book Excerpt
    Zhou Qiong, Geng Jin
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(2): 268-269. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0015-4

    Book Excerpt

  • Research Articles
    Mao Yike
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(4): 496-533. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0029-9

    In the local administrative procedures of the Ming Dynasty, very commonly submitted documents included those co-signed by a number of village leaders, local students, and gentry representatives. Such a way of document submission in the early and middle Ming Dynasty was known as the co-signed document submission, and then, as of the end of the Ming Dynasty, mostly, the public document submission. Starting from the middle Ming Dynasty, there were some document submissions signed as “whole school” or “whole county.” These submissions are not only an important means of reflecting the expectations of the local community to the government, but also an important basis for local officials to report on local affairs to the higher authorities. By the end of the Ming Dynasty, the status of the public document submission was increasingly prominent, and its application rules also tended to mature. For some local affairs, the public document submission of a specific group, as an evidence of the expectation of the local community, became the necessary documentary reference for the government’s decision-making.

  • Book Description
    Zhou Wenjun
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(3): 420-420. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0025-1

    Book Description

  • Research Articles
    Liao Yin, Du Yangyang
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(4): 470-495. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0028-2

    With the society moving from decentralization to a whole and the strengthening of centralization, the state gradually enhanced the involvement in rural community. At the same time, the management of people-land relationship tended to be refined. The original Xiang-Li system, which was suitable to decentralized community, was no longer needed by the state, and would be inevitably replaced by smaller rural organizations that were suitable to centralized community. In this context, the Du-Bao system emerged as the times required. During this process, the combination of the Bao-Jia system, territory division, and mapping technique played a key role in pushing forward the refinement management of people-land relationship. From the Xiang-Li system to the Du-Bao system, from rural officials to rural servants, when rural power was transferred to the government, more new rural authority systems that embodied the state will replaced the traditional rural authority system. There was a lack of obvious dominant class such as aristocratic families and gentry representatives in rural community in the Song Dynasty. Such a unique era provided an excellent opportunity for the state forces to go deep into and change rural community. For this reason, thestate authority upon rural areas in the Song Dynasty exceeded the Han and Tang dynasties, and even the subsequent Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties.

  • Research Articles
    Ding Mengyu
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(4): 443-469. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0027-5

    This paper focuses on the iron smelting industry from the Han Dynasty to the Wei, Jin, and Southern and Northern dynasties, uses modern industrial theories to highlight the process of the development of the iron smelting industry, summarizes the characteristics of the transformation of production mode, and analyzes the impact of the transformation of production mode on the change of state governance. In ancient times, China’s iron smelting industry chose the technical path of pig iron smelting and casting. Based on the mature and developed pig iron smelting and casting technology, it shifted to a production mode based on steel forging from the late Eastern Han Dynasty to the Wei, Jin, and Southern and Northern dynasties. The transformation caused changes like decentralization and localization in state governance at three levels: central government policies, iron smelting production organization, and the behaviors of grassroots individuals and social communities.

  • Abstracts
    Chang Yuenan et al.
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(3): 406-414. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0022-0

    Abstracts

  • Bibliography
    Chen Xiaowei et al.
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(4): 539-540. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0031-0

    Bibliography

  • Bibliography
    Chen Boyi et al.
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(3): 415-416. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0023-7

    Bibliography

  • RESEARCH ARTICLES
    Li Bing
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(3): 341-364. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0020-6

    The imperial examinations of the Liao, Jin, and Yuan, as ethnic minority regimes, were not perfect, compared with those in the Tang and Song dynasties. Scholars in these political systems did not enjoy high status. However, we cannot completely deny or ignore the historical position and influence of imperial examinations during the Liao, Jin, and Yuan periods. The rulers of the Liao, Jin, and Yuan dynasties not only extended the imperial examination system to the vast nomadic areas in the north, but also constantly innovated the system, combining it with the characteristics of ethnic minority regimes and the rulers’ demand. Thereby, the imperial examination system represented unique characteristics of ethnic minority groups, and also laid a foundation for the improvement of imperial examinations in the Ming and Qing dynasties. The imperial examination system is an important power that pushed the Liao, Jin, and Yuan dynasties to transform from soldier politics or military politics and aristocratic politics to civilian politics. Besides, it is an effective means to guide and urge scholars, including ethnic minority scholars, to learn Confucian classics, history, and literature. It played a key role in promoting the

  • RESEARCH ARTICLES
    Xie Yang
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(3): 365-405. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0021-3

    The recommendation approach to official selection was so popular in the early Ming Dynasty that it became an ancestral rule, which was given the legitimacy to be practiced throughout the Ming Dynasty. Since then, the drawbacks of recommendation had gradually emerged, but as one of the means of selecting talents, it was still parallel with the system of official selection and appointment administered by the Ministry of Personnel. In the middle Ming Dynasty, the power of recommendation was gradually transferred from the capital officials serving in central government agencies to the Ministry of Personnel, and it became gradually institutionalized to recommend and appoint the virtuous and capable from across the country. In the late Ming Dynasty, there were more and more cases of recommendation initiated by the local governments, which resulted from the top-down integration of local political and cultural resources by the imperial government through administrative means since the early Ming Dynasty. The change from the dominance of the imperial court to the initiative of local governments in the recommendation practice shows that the central government had gone through a process from administrative integration to political integration in integrating local resources. During this process, the imperial power, as the fundamental driving force to maintain the existence of the state and the operation of the government, as well as the cohesion of local governments, had always been the main force in achieving political integration.

  • Book Excerpt
    Zhou Wenjun
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(3): 417-420. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0024-4

    Book Excerpt

  • Abstracts
    Bu Xianqun et al.
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(4): 534-538. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0030-3

    Abstracts

  • Book Description
    Xu Xuemei
    Frontiers of History in China, 2023, 18(4): 544-544. https://doi.org/10.3868/s020-012-023-0033-4

    Book Description