Three Departments and Six Ministries

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Three Departments and Six Ministries
Chinese name
Chinese
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese Tam tỉnh lục bộ
Korean name
Hangul

The Three Departments and Six Ministries (三省六部(Sān Shěng Liù Bù)) system was the main central government structure in imperial China from the Sui dynasty (581–618) to the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). It was also used by Balhae (698–926) and Goryeo (918–1392) in Manchuria and Korea, and very likely the Lý dynasty (1009–1225) and the Trần dynasty (1225–1400) in Vietnam as well.

Contents

The Three Departments were the top-level offices of the administration. They were the Secretariat, responsible for drafting policy, the Chancellery, responsible for reviewing policy, and the Department of State Affairs, responsible for implementing policy. The former two were loosely joined as the Secretariat-Chancellery during the late Tang dynasty, Song dynasty and Goryeo.

The Six Ministries (also translated as Six Boards) were direct administrative organs of the state. They were the Ministries of Personnel, Rites, War, Justice, Works, and Revenue. They were under the Department of State Affairs until the Yuan dynasty.

The Three Departments were abolished by the Ming dynasty, but the Six Ministries continued under the Ming and Qing, as well as in Vietnam and Korea.

Three Departments and Six Ministries during the Tang dynasty

Emperor
( 皇帝 , huángdì)
Chancellery
( t , s ,Ménxiàshěng)
Department of State Affairs
( t , s ,Shàngshūshěng)
Secretariat
( t , s ,Zhōngshūshěng)
Ministry of Personnel
( 吏部 , Lìbù)
Ministry of Revenue
( t 戶部 , s 户部 ,Hùbù)
Ministry of Rites
( t 禮部 , s 礼部 ,Lǐbù)
Ministry of War
( 兵部 , Bīngbù)
Ministry of Justice
( 刑部 , Xíngbù)
Ministry of Works
( 工部 , Gōngbù)

Early history

Before the institution of the Three Departments and Six Ministries, the central administrative structure of the Qin and Han dynasties was the Three Lords and Nine Ministers ( , Sāngōng Jiǔqīng) system. Nonetheless, even then, offices which fulfilled the same functions as the later three departments were already in existence.

The Department of State Affairs was first devised during the Qin dynasty (221–206 BCE), originally in an archival role. During the reign of Emperor Wu in the Western Han dynasty (206 BCE – 9 CE), the Secretariat's office was also instituted, as a channel of communications between the Emperor's advisors and the government as a whole. By the Eastern Han dynasty (25–220 CE), an office of advisors and reviewers had also been set up.

By the time of the Cao Wei state (220–265 CE), the emperor Cao Pi made use of this base of advisers to officially institute the Secretariat to balance against the powerful Department of State Affairs. This was the first office known as the 'Secretariat' to fulfil functions similar to its later form, drafting imperial edicts. [1]

The office of the Chancellery, as a review mechanism, was first instituted during the Jin dynasty (265–420 CE) and carried on throughout the Northern and Southern Dynasties period (420–589 CE), where it often became the most powerful office in the central government.

Three Departments

Six Ministries

Traditionally, these departments were also translated as "Boards". Each was headed by a Minister or Secretary (Chinese :尚書; pinyin :shàngshū; Manchu : Aliha amban.png ) who was assisted by two Vice-Ministers or Secretaries (Chinese :侍郎; pinyin :shìláng; Manchu : Ashan i amban.png ).

Beneath each Ministry were many Bureaus ( , ), bodies responsible for grassroots administration.

Other Departments

Aside from the "Three Departments", there were three others equal in status to them, but they are rarely involved in the administration of the state.

See also

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References

Citations

  1. Lu 2008, p. 235.
  2. Mote 2003, pp. 477–478.
  3. Hucker 1958, p. 32.
  4. Hucker 1958, p. 33.
  5. Hucker 1958, pp. 33–35.
  6. Hucker 1958, p. 35.
  7. 1 2 Hucker 1958, p. 36.

Sources

  • Twitchett, Dennis, ed. (1979). The Cambridge History of China, Volume 3: Sui and T'ang China, 589–906 AD, Part 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 179. ISBN   978-0-521-21446-9.
  • Hucker, Charles O. (December 1958). "Governmental Organization of the Ming Dynasty". Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. 21: 1–66. doi:10.2307/2718619. JSTOR   2718619.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Li, Konghuai (2007). History of Administrative Systems in Ancient China (in Chinese). Joint Publishing (H.K.) Co., Ltd. ISBN   978-962-04-2654-4.
  • Lu, Simian (2008). The General History of China (in Chinese). New World Publishing. ISBN   978-7-80228-569-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Mote, Frederick W. (2003) [1999]. Imperial China: 900–1800 (HUP paperback ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN   978-0-674-01212-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Wang, Yü-Ch'üan (June 1949). "An Outline of the Central Government of the Former Han Dynasty". Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. Harvard-Yenching Institute. 12 (1/2): 134–187. doi:10.2307/2718206. JSTOR   2718206.