Abstract

This paper is an attempt to assess the influences of the Jurchen Chin dynasty (1115–1234) on the Chinese political system, with emphasis on the bearing of alien rule on the establishment of a highly centralized despotism. The thesis is that the Jurchen solutions to the political problems arisen from the conquest situation seem to require measures of centralized control. During the initial phase of conquest, the political struggles between the bureaucrats and the aristocrats entailed the brutalization of the political process. Subsequently the need for centralized control led to wholesale sinicization. There are, however, several aspects of Jurchen rule in the formation of a centralized despotism: the establishment of a prototype of the provincial system, the abolition of important government councils, the monopoly of state affairs by a single administrative organization, the degradation of scholar-officials by inflicting corporal punishment, and the transformation of the censorate into an imperial instrument. The alien rules also adopted and modified the Chinese civil service examination system to stabilize their regime. The Chin, as a successor state of the Northern Sung, served as an important link in Chinese cultural and political developments, and transferred its institutions to later conquest dynasties.

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