Han Dynasty Government


Han Dynasty Pottery Palace
Photo by: Wikipedia Creative Commons

The Han dynasty followed the Qin dynasty to become the second imperial dynasty of China. Comprised of two periods, the Western Han and the Eastern Han, the Han dynasty was a product of a rebellion that began after the death of the First Emperor. The Han dynasty government was largely characterized by a combination of feudal structures and central bureaucracy. The emperor was the head of the government. He was responsible for creating laws, heading the armed forces as its commander-in-chief and serving as the chief executive official.

The Han dynasty’s imperial government system was patterned after its predecessor, the Qin dynasty. A central control was established, meaning that the emperors had full control over all of China. In theory, the powers of the emperor were absolute and unlimited. The emperors had three councilors of state, the Chancellor over the Masses, the Imperial Counselor and the Grand Commandant. Each of the counselor’s main duty was to draft the government budget, conduct disciplinary procedures for government officials and to command and the military, respectively. There were then nine ministers, each of them assigned to head a specialized ministry.

During the early parts of the Han dynasty government, imperial princes were given the title of kings. They were given territories which they could pass on to their sons until the bloodline ends. This system was later scrapped by the emperor. The makers of the Han dynasty were credited with being the first politicians in Chinese history to develop a system of training and educating future administration officials. Becoming an actual official was still more possible through recommendations instead of examinations though.

The local government was comprised of the province, commandery, county and the district respectively. During the Early Han period, there remained only 12 provinces, each of which was under the control of a central government appointed governor. These governors were responsible for inspecting the administrators of certain commanderies and they evaluated officials based on competence, honesty and obedience. Commanderies consisted of counties. Counties are the smallest political division in the Han era to have a centrally appointed official.

Like all the other aspects of the Han dynasty, the Han dynasty government system was more or less implemented throughout the imperial history of China. Most of their ways may have been adapted from the Qin dynasty but it was through the Han period that the system was fully cemented. Proof again of how the Han dynasty earned its reputation as one of the most powerful dynasties in the history of China.

5 Responses to “Han Dynasty Government”

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