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The Mandate of Heaven and The Great Ming Code (Asian Law Series)

Jiang Yonglin is visiting associate professor of East Asian studies at Bryn Mawr College. He is the translator of The Great Ming Code (Da Ming lu).

Publication Year: 2010

This companion volume to Jiang Yonglin's translation of The Great Ming Code (2005) analyzes the thought underlying the imperial legal code. Was the concept of the Mandate of Heaven merely a tool manipulated by the ruling elite to justify state power, or was it essential to their belief system and to the intellectual foundation of legal culture? What role did law play in the imperial effort to carry out the social reform programs?

Published by: University of Washington Press


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pp. vi-vii


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pp. ix-xi


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pp. xiii-xiv

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1. Introduction: Religion and Chinese Legal Cosmology

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pp. 3-21

Early January, 1368. Zhu Yuanzhang (1328–1398),1 the future founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644),2 had already eliminated most of his rival warlords in contending for the realm. When his followers vigorously exhorted him to take the throne, however, Zhu hesitated. He dared not make the decision on his own, he said, but would have ...

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2. Early Ming Legal Cosmology: Embodying Heavenly Principle and Human Sentiment

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pp. 22-69

In April 1384, Zhu Yuanzhang decided to restructure his capital city, Nanjing, to correspond more closely with the heavenly pattern.1 The imperial capital was imbued with tremendous cosmological significance, not only signifying the center of the human realm, but also serving as a sacred place connected to the superhuman world.2 By this time in the early ...

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3. The Great Ming Code and The World of Spirits: Regulating Rituals for Communicating with Deities

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pp. 70-99

Zhu Yuanzhang dreamed a dream, and it meant so much to him that he composed an essay to expound its significance. In the dream, said to have occurred in the fall of 1367, slightly before the founding of the new dynasty, Zhu was wandering aimlessly in his hometown and saw a flock of birds in the sky, among which a fairy crane flew southeast. Then ...

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4. The Great Ming Code and The Human Realm: Creating Boundaries for the Ming Empire

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pp. 100-141

On December 31, 1396, Zhu Yuanzhang sent two court officials to Annam to settle a border dispute between the two countries. This border settlement embassy had been initiated by a memorial submitted by Huang Guangcheng, the aboriginal prefect of Siming Prefecture, Guangxi Province. Huang reported that Annam had shifted ...

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5. The Great Ming Code and Officialdom: Rectifying Mediating Representatives

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pp. 142-174

On February 15, 1382, the Yellow River burst its banks in Henan. Thousands of people lost their homes and were suffering from hunger and cold. Zhu Yuanzhang immediately dispatched the commandant-escort (fuma duwei) Li Qi to coordinate the relief of victims in the stricken areas.1 At the same time, the emperor issued a rescript to all ...

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6. Conclusion: Manifesting the Mandate of Heaven

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pp. 175-180

To demonstrate the interconnection of law, society, and worldview in imperial China in general, and during the early Ming dynasty in particular, this case study of The Great Ming Code argues that The Great Ming Code was established on the basis of early Ming legal cosmology— ...


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pp. 181-200


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pp. 201-214


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pp. 215-233


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pp. 235-245

E-ISBN-13: 9780295801667
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295990651

Publication Year: 2010