The Three Ducal Ministers (Chinese :三公; pinyin :Sāngōng), also translated as the Three Dukes, Three Excellencies, or the Three Lords, was the collective name for the three highest officials in ancient China. These posts were abolished by Cao Cao in 208 AD and replaced with the position of Imperial Chancellor.
Each minister was responsible for different areas of government, but the boundaries were often blurred. Together, the Three Ducal Ministers were the emperor's closest advisors. Toward the end of a dynasty, the positions were often sold to men of wealth to raise state revenue.
Starting in the late Shang dynasty and Zhou dynasty, the top three were:
During the Western Han dynasty, the three positions were:
In the Eastern Han dynasty, the names of the Three Ducal Ministers were changed to:
Because all the three name have the word "司" (sī), at the Eastern Han, the Three Ducal Ministers were also called "Sansī" (三司).
During the Han dynasty, civil service officials were classified according to twenty grades (reduced to sixteen after 32 BC), expressed by the official's annual salary in terms of number of dàn (石) or Chinese bushels of grain.This ranged from the ten-thousand-bushel rank at the top to the one-hundred-bushel at the bottom. Under this system, the Three Ducal Ministers all held the highest rank of ten-thousand-bushel.
The Han dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty and a warring interregnum known as the Chu-Han contention, it was briefly interrupted by the Xin dynasty established by the usurping regent Wang Mang, and was separated into two periods — the Western Han and the Eastern Han (25–220 AD), before succeeded by the Three Kingdoms period. Spanning over four centuries, the Han dynasty is considered a golden age in Chinese history, and influenced the identity of the Chinese civilization ever since. To this day, China's majority ethnic group refers to themselves as the "Han Chinese", the Sinitic language is known as "Han language", and the written Chinese is referred to as "Han characters".
Cao Chun, courtesy name Zihe, was a military officer serving under the warlord Cao Cao during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He was a younger second cousin of Cao Cao, and is best known for leading the "Tiger and Leopard Cavalry" (虎豹騎), an elite mounted unit, in several battles against Cao Cao's rivals, including Yuan Tan, Tadun and Liu Bei. His elder brother, Cao Ren, also served as a military officer under Cao Cao.
The grand chancellor, also translated as counselor-in-chief, chancellor, chief councillor, chief minister, imperial chancellor, lieutenant chancellor and prime minister, was the highest-ranking executive official in the imperial Chinese government. The term was known by many different names throughout Chinese history, and the exact extent of the powers associated with the position fluctuated greatly, even during a particular dynasty.
Cao Song, courtesy name Jugao, was an official who lived during the Eastern Han dynasty of China. He was the foster son of the eunuch Cao Teng and the father of the warlord Cao Cao, who rose to prominence in the final years of Eastern Han and laid the foundation of the state of Cao Wei in the Three Kingdoms period. Cao Song was posthumously honoured as "Emperor Tai" by his grandson Cao Pi in 220 when the latter ended the Han dynasty and founded the Cao Wei regime.
Zhong Yao, also referred to as Zhong You, courtesy name Yuanchang, was a government official and calligrapher who lived during the late Eastern Han dynasty and Three Kingdoms period of China. He served in the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period. His calligraphy was highly regarded as he was known as one of the Four Talented Calligraphers (四賢) in the history of Chinese calligraphy.
Wang Xiu, courtesy name Shuzhi, was an official who lived during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He rose up to the highest echelon of government under the warlord Cao Cao, then the de facto head of the Han central government, in the lead-up to the Three Kingdoms period. He was known for being compassionate and daring.
Ji Ben was an imperial physician who lived during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. In 218, he started a rebellion with several others in the imperial capital, Xu, but the revolt was suppressed and the conspirators were captured and executed.
Wang Xiang (185–269), courtesy name Xiuzheng, was a Chinese politician who lived through the late Eastern Han dynasty (25–220), the Three Kingdoms period (220–280), and the early Western Jin dynasty (265–316) of China. He served among the highest positions in the government, including Minister of Works (司空) and Grand Commandant (太尉) in the Cao Wei state during the Three Kingdoms period, and Grand Protector (太保) during the Western Jin dynasty. He was also one of The Twenty-four Filial Exemplars.
The Han dynasty of ancient China was the second imperial dynasty of China, following the Qin dynasty. It was divided into the periods of Former Han and Later Han, briefly interrupted by the Xin dynasty of Wang Mang. The capital of Western Han was Chang'an, and the capital of Eastern Han was Luoyang. The emperor headed the government, promulgating all written laws, serving as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and presiding as the chief executive official. He appointed all government officials who earned a salary of 600 bushels of grain or more with the help of advisors who reviewed each nominee. The empress dowager could either be the emperor's actual or symbolic mother, and was in practice more powerful than the emperor, as she could override his decisions. The emperor's executive powers could also be practiced by any official upon whom he bestowed the Staff of Authority. These powers included the right to execute criminals without the imperial court's permission.
The Three Departments and Six Ministries 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.
The Nine Ministers was the collective name for nine high officials in the imperial government of the Han dynasty, who each headed a specialised ministry and were subordinates to the Three Councillors of State.
The Three Lords and Nine Ministers system was a central administrative system adopted in ancient China that was officially instituted in the Qin dynasty and was replaced by the Three Departments and Six Ministries system since the Sui dynasty.
Sima Fang (149–219), courtesy name Jiangong or Wenyu, was an official who lived during the Eastern Han dynasty of China. Through his second son Sima Yi, he was an ancestor of the ruling Sima clan of the Jin dynasty (265–420) of China.
Sima is an official post from ancient China that first appears in texts dating from the Western Zhou dynasty and continued to be used during the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period. Translated literally, it means "administrator of the horses." Owing to the fact that the power and responsibilities associated with the office changed somewhat throughout Chinese history, a variety of English translations for the term have been suggested. The textually closest equivalent is Master of the Horse. Other English terms such as 'marshal' and 'major' have also been suggested, and may be appropriate in different contexts: for example 'marshal' may be appropriate in the Western Han dynasty, when "Grand Sima" was a title granted to high generals, while 'major' may be appropriate as the translation for the lower military position also called "Sima" from the Wei dynasty to the Song dynasty.
Cui Lin, courtesy name Deru, was a high-ranking government official of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. He was known for his scruples in good governance, judgment of character, and for being the first of the Three Ducal Ministers after the end of the Eastern Han dynasty to be enfeoffed as a marquis. He was from Dongwu County, Qinghe Commandery, Ji Province, which is in present-day Zhucheng, Shandong.
A memorial to the throne was an official communication to the Emperor of China. They were generally careful essays in Classical Chinese and their presentation was a formal affair directed by government officials. Submission of a memorial was a right theoretically available to everyone from the Crown Prince to a common farmer, but the court secretaries would read them aloud to the emperor and exercised considerable control over what was considered worthy of his time. They were used in imperial China as a means of regulating corrupt local officials who might otherwise have escaped oversight.
The Ministry of Ceremonies was one of the nine ministries of Han China. The Minister of Ceremonies, also known as Grand Master of Ceremonies, was the chief official in charge of religious rites, rituals, prayers, and the maintenance of ancestral temples and altars. The role's title was changed to Upholder of Ceremonies from 195 to 144 BC before reverting to the original title. Although his main concern was to link the emperor with the supernatural world and Heaven, he was also given the task of setting educational standards for the Imperial University and the academic chairs who specialized in the Five Classics, the canon of Confucianism.
Cao Biao, courtesy name Zhuhu, was an imperial prince of the Cao Wei state in the Three Kingdoms period of China.
Guo Yuan, courtesy name Zini, was an official and scholar serving under the warlord Cao Cao in the late Eastern Han dynasty of China.
Han Ji, courtesy name Gongzhi, was a government official who served in the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. He previously served under the warlords Liu Biao and Cao Cao during the late Eastern Han dynasty.
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