Online ISSN : 2424-2616
Print ISSN : 0018-2478
ISSN-L : 0018-2478
Avenues of Criticism 言路官 in the Song Dynasty
Shigeki Hirata
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1992 Volume 101 Issue 6 Pages 1114-1150,1234-


There was a remarkable difference between tai-jian's 台諫 character before and after the reform of government organization in the Yuan-feng 元豊 era. During the first half of the northern Song, tai-jian as the Ears and Eyes of the Emperor 耳目官, hotly debated governmental politics with the Grand Councilors 宰相, but after about this reform tai-jian became, as it were, the Grand Councilors' own man and was used to drive out their political opponents. This article deals with the Avenues of Criticism (Ji-shi-zhoug 給事中, Zhoug-shu she-reu 中書舎人, and tai-jian) in the Yuan-you 元祐 era, to make clear the transformation of the political structure in the Song Dynasty. The first chapter analyzes the character of politics in the Yuan-you era. In this era, a grand empress dowager, Xuan-ren 宣仁, held court from behind a screen and attended to state affairs (垂簾聴政) in the place of Zhe-zong 哲宗, bringing about the following political system. (1)Documentary administration was centered around the Inner Court (内朝). Zai-zhi 宰執 and tai-jiau had access to Xuan-ren, who got the right to speak out on political matters. (2)A system for criticizing governmental politics was established ; Ji-shi-zhong and Zhong-shu she-ren sealed and sent back a proclamation (封駁) for reconsideration, and tai-jian argued against affaires (弾奏), if they considered the politics improper. (3)The Avenues of Criticism, which were to check on the Grand Councilors' authority, had a tendency to conspire with the Grand Councilors. The next chapter analyzes politics in the Yuan-you era, the clue to the rise and fall of the Liu-zhi 劉摯 group. This group, which was mainly composed of the Avenues of Criticism's officials and established a system similar to institution (2)above, conducted the Jiu-fa-dang's 旧法党 politics. After they left this post, Xin-fa-dang's 新法党 people returned to the central government and made full use of institution (2)to impeach them. After this, the activity of the Avenues of Criticism fell under control of the Grand Councilors, and the function of criticizing governmental policies gradually weakened. This was one of the factors leading to a time when the Grand Councilors in the southern Song Dynasty exercised arbitrary power.

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© 1992 The Historical Society of Japan
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