Li Shanchang

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Li Shanchang Li Shan Chang .jpg
Li Shanchang

Li Shanchang (Chinese :李善長; pinyin :Lǐ Shàncháng; Wade–Giles :Li Shan-ch'ang; 1314-1390) was the founding chancellor of the Ming dynasty. Deemed the recognized leader of the West Huai (Huaixi) faction, and given first rank among the six dukes in 1370, [1] it is said that Li was the Emperor Hongwu's closest comrade during the war (against the Yuan dynasty), and greatest contributor to his ultimate victory and thus establishment of the Ming Dynasty. [2] Deeply trusted by the Emperor, [3] Hongwu consulted Li on institutional matters, [4] but became "bored with Li's arrogance" in old age.

Traditional Chinese characters Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters are Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. They are most commonly the characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong and Macau, and in the Kangxi Dictionary. The modern shapes of traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, and have been more or less stable since the 5th century.

Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.

Wade–Giles, sometimes abbreviated Wade, is a romanization system for Mandarin Chinese. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Wade, during the mid-19th century, and was given completed form with Herbert A. Giles's Chinese–English Dictionary of 1892.

Li "planned the organization of the six ministries, shared in the drafting of a new law code, and supervised the compilations of the History of Yuan , the Ancestral Instructions and the Ritual Compendium of the Ming Dynasty." He established salt and tea monopolies based on Yuan institutions, eliminated corruption, restored minted currency, opened iron foundries, and instituted fish taxes. It is said that revenues were sufficient, yet the people were not oppressed.

The History of Yuan, also known as the Yuanshi, is one of the official Chinese historical works known as the Twenty-Four Histories of China. Commissioned by the court of the Ming dynasty, in accordance to political tradition, the text was composed in 1370 by the official Bureau of History of the Ming dynasty, under direction of Song Lian (1310–1381).

A doubtful classicist at best, and yet a skillful draftsman of legal documents, mandates, and military communications, the History of Ming biography states that his studies included Chinese Legalist writings, a statement made of no other individual among more than three hundred others. Most of his activities seem to have supported Hongwu Emperor's firm control of his regime. Mainly responsible for ferreting out disloyalty and factionalism among military officers, he used a reward and punishment system reminiscent of the Han Feizi, and may have had a kind of secret police in his service. At times he had charge of all civil and military officials in Nanjing. [5]

The History of Ming or the Ming History is one of the official Chinese historical works known as the Twenty-Four Histories. It consists of 332 volumes and covers the history of the Ming Dynasty from 1368 to 1644. It was written by a number of officials commissioned by the court of Qing Dynasty, with Zhang Tingyu as the lead editor. The compilation started in the era of the Shunzhi Emperor and was completed in 1739 in the era of the Qianlong Emperor, though most of the volumes were written in the era of the Kangxi Emperor.

Hongwu Emperor founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty

The Hongwu Emperor, personal name Zhu Yuanzhang, was the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty.

<i>Han Feizi</i> ancient Chinese text attributed to foundational political philosopher, "Master" Han Fei

The Han Feizi is an ancient Chinese text attributed to foundational political philosopher, "Master" Han Fei. It comprises a selection of essays in the "Legalist" tradition on theories of state power, synthesizing the methodologies of his predecessors. Its 55 chapters, most of which date to the Warring States period mid-3rd century BC, are the only such text to survive intact. Easily one of the most important philosophical classics in ancient China, it touches on administration, diplomacy, war and economics, and is also valuable for its abundance of anecdotes about pre-Qin China.


Li's import into Legalist statecraft and prognostication theories originally left him an educated, yet marginal figure in Dingyuan County until his recruitment by the Emperor Hongwu, who was passing through the area with his army. Li discussed history with him, namely, the qualities of the founding Han Emperor Gaozu of Han, and the emperor invited Li to take over the secretarial and managerial duties of his field command. He proved able and energetic, often staying behind to transfer army provisions. He was given first rank among officers with the titles of Grand Councilor of the Left and "Dynastic Duke of Han". Comparisons between the Emperor Hongwu and Gaozu became a theme of the Ming Court and it's historians. [6]

Dingyuan County is a county of Anhui Province, China. It is under the administration of Chuzhou city.

Emperor Gaozu of Han Founding emperor of the Han Dynasty (256 BC – 195 BC)

Emperor Gaozu of Han, born Liu Bang (劉邦), was the founder and first emperor of the Han dynasty, reigning from 202 – 195 BCE. "Gaozu of Han" is his temple name, meaning "The High Ancestor of Han". Liu Bang was one of the few dynasty founders in Chinese history who was born in a peasant family.

One history holds that, after the navy in Chaohu surrendered to the emperor, Li urged ferrying the soldiers to capture the southern area of the Yangtze River. Then Li gave an advance notice to prevent the army from violating the military discipline. The duplicates of his notice were plastered everywhere in the occupied city, Taiping. Consequently, the troops garrisoned there in an orderly fashion.

Chaohu County-level city in Anhui, Peoples Republic of China

Chaohu was formerly a prefecture-level city and is now a county-level city in central Anhui province, People's Republic of China. Situated on the northeast and southeast shores of Lake Chao, from which the city was named, Chaohu is under the administration of Hefei, the provincial capital, and is the latter's easternmost county-level division.

Yangtze longest river in China

The Yangtze or Yangzi, which is 6,300 km (3,915 mi) long, is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest in the world and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. Its source is in the northern part of the Tibetan Plateau and it flows 6,300 km (3,900 mi) in a generally eastern direction to the East China Sea. It is the sixth-largest river by discharge volume in the world. Its drainage basin comprises one-fifth of the land area of China, and is home to nearly one-third of the country's population.

Dangtu County is one of three counties under the jurisdiction of the prefecture-level city of Ma'anshan in the southeast of Anhui Province, China.

The emperor asked Li to assume responsibility for administrative affairs in 1353, [7] granting him overall institutional authority long before codification work started. Li's petitioning Emperor Hongwu to eliminate collective prosecution reportedly initiated the drafting. Hongwu ordered Li and others to create the basic law code in 1367, appointing him Left Councilor and chief legislator in a commission of 30 ministers. Hongwu emphasized the importance of simplicity and clarity, and noted that the Tang dynasty and Song dynasty had fully developed criminal statutes, ignored by the Yuan dynasty. Li memorialized that all previous codes were based on the Han code, synthesized under the Tang, and based their institutions on the Tang Code . [8]

Tang dynasty State in Chinese history

The Tang dynasty or the Tang Empire was an imperial dynasty of China spanning the 7th to 10th centuries. It was preceded by the Sui dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. Historians generally regard the Tang as a high point in Chinese civilization, and a golden age of cosmopolitan culture. Tang territory, acquired through the military campaigns of its early rulers, rivaled that of the Han dynasty. The Tang capital at Chang'an was the most populous city in the world in its day.

Song dynasty Chinese historical period

The Song dynasty was an era of Chinese history that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song following his usurpation of the throne of the Later Zhou, ending the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. The Song often came into conflict with the contemporary Liao and Western Xia dynasties in the north. It was eventually conquered by the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Song government was the first in world history to issue banknotes or true paper money nationally and the first Chinese government to establish a permanent standing navy. This dynasty also saw the first known use of gunpowder, as well as the first discernment of true north using a compass.

Yuan dynasty former Mongolian-ruled empire in Eastern and Northeastern Asia

The Yuan dynasty, officially the Great Yuan, was the empire or ruling dynasty of China established by Kublai Khan, leader of the Mongolian Borjigin clan. It followed the Song dynasty and preceded the Ming dynasty. Although the Mongols had ruled territories including modern-day North China for decades, it was not until 1271 that Kublai Khan officially proclaimed the dynasty in the traditional Chinese style, and the conquest was not complete until 1279. His realm was, by this point, isolated from the other khanates and controlled most of modern-day China and its surrounding areas, including modern Mongolia. It was the first foreign dynasty to rule all of China and lasted until 1368 which ended in Ming dynasty defeating the Yuan dynasty, the rebuked Genghisid rulers retreated to their Mongolian homeland and continued to rule the Northern Yuan dynasty. Some of the Mongolian Emperors of the Yuan mastered the Chinese language, while others only used their native language and the 'Phags-pa script.

Following the drafting of the code, Li personally oversaw any new stipulations, [9] including a system of fixed statutes made to combat corruption. [10] He joined with Hu Weiyong against Yang Xian, another chancellor. Their efforts contributed to Yang's death, making Li the most powerful figure next to the emperor at the court in 1370. He quarreled with the great classical scholar Liu Bowen, causing the latter to resign from public office. [11]

In old age and extremely rich, he retired as the emperor's distaste grew for his arrogance, but would still be called upon to deliberate military and dynastic affairs. Other councilors fared worse; Guangyang, remembered his carefulness, generosity, honesty, uprightness and seriousness, was demoted several times. A lack of division of powers between the Emperor and his councilors apparently resulted in conflicts, and the grand councilors (four total) gave up on state affairs, following prevailing affairs or doing nothing. Appointed to right councilor, Li gave himself over to drinking. He was ultimately implicated in 1390 in a decade-long conspiracy [12] and purged along with his extended family and thirty thousand others. The accusations against him would be memorialized as absurd fabrications, recognized as such by the Emperor Hongwu. [13] He was executed largely on the basis of his supposed awareness and non-reporting of treason. [14] The post of councilor (or prime minister) was abolished following their execution. [15]

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  2. C. Simon Fan 2016. p.94. Culture, Institution, and Development in China.
  3. Anita M. Andrew, John A. Rapp 2000. p.161. Autocracy and China's Rebel Founding Emperors.
  4. Jiang Yonglin, Yonglin Jiang 2005. p.xxxiv. The Great Ming Code: Da Ming lü.
  5. Taylor, R. (1963) p.53p-54. SOCIAL ORIGINS OF THE MING DYNASTY 1351-1360. Monumenta Serica, 22(1), 1-78. Retrieved from
  6. Frederick W. Mote 1999. p.550. Imperial China 900-1800.
  7. Edward L. Farmer 1995 p.29. Zhu Yuanzhang and Early Ming Legislation.
    • Massey 1983
  8. Edward L. Farmer 1995 p.37. Zhu Yuanzhang and Early Ming Legislation.
  9. Jinfan Zhang 2014 p.168. The Tradition and Modern Transition of Chinese Law.
  10. Edward L. Farmer 1995 p.37. Zhu Yuanzhang and Early Ming Legislation.
  11. Taylor, R. (1963) p.53p-54. SOCIAL ORIGINS OF THE MING DYNASTY 1351-1360. Monumenta Serica, 22(1), 1-78. Retrieved from
  12. Edward L. Farmer 1995 p.58. Zhu Yuanzhang and Early Ming Legislation.
  13. Anita M. Andrew, John A. Rapp 2000. p.148,61,167-168. Autocracy and China's Rebel Founding Emperors.
  14. C. Simon Fan 2016. p.94. Culture, Institution, and Development in China.
  15. James Tong 1991 p.230. Disorder Under Heaven: Collective Violence in the Ming Dynasty.