Lord Tl'jang-mjen

Lord Tl′jang-mjen (昌文君, tl′jang-mjen-kljur; Jan. 2, 1808 – Mar. 15, 1885) was a Themiclesian civil servant and Liberal politician. He was the first prime minister to be a commoner in office rather than a peer since 1815, governing between 1873 and 1877. He is most remembered for allowing greater coherence in the army and navy and latitude in appointment and promotion of officers.

Name and titles

Lord Tl’jang-mjen is named T’ja Rje. He was made a titular lord in 1863, during the Lord of Sng’rja’s government. It was customary at the time to make cabinet ministers titular lords as soon as they are appointed. The titular name “Tl’jang-men” means “illustrious complexity”.

Upbringing

Early political career

Foreign secretary (1863 – 65)

Foreign secretary (1869 – 72)

Prime minister (1873 – 77)

Succession

Tl’jang-mjen became the most senior member of the Liberal Party following the retirement of the Lord of Sng’rja in 1872. While the two never seemed to be on good terms, their shared distaste for Conservative desperation to defend aristocratic privilege made them strong partners in the ministry. During the premiership of the Lord of Nja-'rjum, Themiclesia lost lost the Isle of Liang to Camia. Though the capitulation had diverse causes, public attention centred on the surrender of Lord M’reng, the senior commander on the island, without firing a single shot. Liberals in both houses were outraged by his surrender, though the Conservative parliament refused to prosecute on account of his party affiliation. While the government was led by Sng’rja, contemporaries understood them as equals, since Sng’rja sat in the House of Lords, while Tl’jang-mjen sat in the Commons, each leading the government’s agenda in their respective chambers. Tl’jang-mjen was thus understood as the natural successor of Sng’rja as head of government when he retired. The Emperor offered him a peerage as custom dictated for commoners in line to become prime minister, but he declined, preferring to stay in the House of Commons.

Military reforms

Taking office in early 1873, Tl’jang-mjen and his ministry ordered an inquiry into the appointment system of both army and navy officers. Reporting four months later, the commissioners said that while the Army Academy and Naval Academy both produced qualified officers, some overly so, officers were appointed and promoted largely without regard of specialization. This problem was the more apparent in the army, when an officer studying infantry history and tactic could find appointment as a cavalry officer, simply because he liked one unit over the other. While the rules that ensured fairness and effectiveness in the Civil Service Ministry applied to the army, the commission found many of them outdated. Moreover, since the Army Academy had expanded to become a liberal arts university, a great number of officers were being commissioned without any real exposure to military operations. In fact, there were several hundred “absentee captains” who drew captains’ salaries while doing graduate studies at the Academy. They typically quit the military as soon as their studies were over, effectively using their salaries as scholarships, never meeting militiamen assigned to them or discharging any official function whatever.

Tl’jang-mjen desired to establish a new government office to oversee army appointments and to cull the subjects offered at the officer school, but both measures drew drastic opposition from the Conservative Party. They were concerned that the new measure would create a loyalty to a single authority, who could then create a military government. They defended the existing system saying it guaranteed a pool of principled, independent officers each with strong, personal interests to protect the establishment. Such an officer corps would also constantly check itself for irregular behaviour and ambition and resist personal loyalties. Conservative peers further argued that looseness in specialization encouraged broader perspectives and creativity, and constant interchange with the civil service discouraged parochialism and preserved the civic character of the military. Essentially, the argument is since aristocrats had an open path to honour, they had a personal disincentive to disrupt the establishment that benefited their class.

Tl’jang-mjen was taken aback by this torrential criticism and faced pressure within his party to make a strong response. He said that power and honour should not be exclusive to the aristocracy, and “even ordinary people” should feel an allegiance towards their country’s political system enough to suppress any improper ambitions. While later historians have credited him for a logical argument against the Conservatives, contemporaries felt his response to be a verbatim reproduction of the standard Liberal spiel that everyone was the same, i.e. feeling the same allegiance towards their country and behaving under the same interests that prevents subversion. The prime minister asserted if the political system were not so deeply biased against commoners, they would too feel an entrenched interest to protect the establishment by checking subversive ambitions amongst themselves. In 1874, he said to Parliament that as far as his government was concerned, “every man is an aristocrat, having the same noble aspirations and practical interests that govern their behaviours.” This implied the exclusivity that Conservatives propose is a product of their desire to keep power to themselves.

Conflict with the Lord of M'i

The Conservative response, led by the Lord of M’i, was comparatively weak, appealing to economy and practicality. M’i said that commoners were uninterested in affairs of state, occupied with with subsistence through agriculture, handicraft, or industry, and the Liberal agenda to create a nation of political equals was impossible. Tl’jang-mjen famously replied that "it is the renowned belief of the Conservatives that commoners should be squalid and powerless by reason of their birth”. M’i replied that their powerlessness was due to “of their economic condition, not that of their birth” and, as a remedy, "commoners have created the political classes to manage their nation on their behalf." While M’i left politics by 1889, Tl’jang-mjen’s acrimonious criticism of M’i ironically forced his party to adapt and ultimately become a socialist party.  

In the meantime, however, Tl’jang-mjen cast himself in the light of a man of the common people, campaigning for their equality. Tl'jang-mjen made it more acceptable to criticize the monarch as far as public actions were concerned. While the difference between public and personal actions by the crown had long been recognized, it reduced the Conservatives’ ability to claim royal displeasure as a tool in politics. The monarch’s public activities were statutorily void if the House of Lords refused to accept it, and personal acts void if not supported by the bi-partisan Privy Council. Since this increased the power of the Conservative-controlled House of Lords, it passed the chamber easily and was supported by Emperor Mjen.

Tl’jang-mjen’s republicanism also integrated with his military reforms, believing that Themiclesia’s constitution, though unwritten, should be the ultimate allegiance of all professional soldiers and sailors. This was superior to personal allegiance to a monarch, since in his view Themiclesia’s constitution guaranteed a stable, harmonious government and, all disputes resolved within the constitutional framework, would never create a political role for the military. Tl'jang-mjen argued that all soldiers and sailors should take an oath declaring their allegiance to the "laws of Themiclesia passed by the Sovereign, the Peers, and the People of Themiclesia in Parliament assembled." The Lord of Snur-ljang blocked this proposal, saying that Themiclesian soldiers and sailors have never needed declare their allegiance, and an act requiring it would be useless at best, and "unintentionally subversive" at worst.

Lord Tl’jang-mjen’s constitutionalism predominated in political circles and was accepted by New Conservatives under the Lord of Krungh, to the effect that the latter said in 1900 that the constitution was “not an imposed law, but a consensus creating the political process.”

Tl'jang-mjen Ministry

Cabinet ministers in bold.

Position Holder
Tyrannian Shinasthana
Prime Minister 尚書令 The Lord of Snur-lang (to 1894)
The Lord of Krungh (from 1894)
Chancellor 相邦 The Lord of K′jar
Vice Chancellor 丞相 Lord of Njet-hwer
The Lord of Rjat-lang
President of Tribunes 御史大夫 Lord Gran-skwjadh
Marshal of the Gallery 郎中令 The Lord of Kaw-ngjar
Privy Treasurer 少府 The Lord of ′rup-nem
Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs 左僕射主客尚書  The Lord of K′ei-′rjem
Lord Steward of the Palace 殿中監 The Lord of Nja-lang
Under-Secretary of State for Hemithea and Meridia 左主客郎
Under-Secretary of State for Casaterra 右主客郎
Under-Secretary of State for Ceremonies 儀曹郎
Comptroller of States 屬邦
Comptroller of Embassies 典客
Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Rites 右僕射祠部尚書 The Lord of Mrjing
Under-Secretary of State for Education 祠部郎 Lord Tjup
Chancellor of Academia Shinasthana 大學監 The Lord of Dar
Comptroller of the Ancestry 宗正
Comptroller of Ceremonies 奉常
Superintendant of Secret Books 秘書監 The Lord of Nja-lang
Secretary of State for Appropriations 度支尚書 Lord Lang-djeng
Under-Secretary of State for Treasury 金部倉部郎
Under-Secretary of State for Revenues 內郎 Lord Ga-lang
Inner Administrator 內史 Lord Sikw-lang
Secretary of State for War 十七兵尚書 Lord Gwigh-njing
Marshal of Hên-lang Guards 顯陽衛尉
Marshal of Middle Guards 中衛尉
Marshal of Gwreng-hljunh Guards 宏訓衛尉
Marshal of Gweng-ngjarh Guards 弘義衛尉
Marshal of Pek Guards 北宮衛尉
Capital Marshal 中尉
Master of the Horse 太僕
Comptroller of Manufactories 將作少府 Lord Mjap
Under-Secretary of State for Munitions 寺工室郎 Lord Ta
Under-Secretary of State for Militias 中外兵郎
Under-Secretary of State for Territorial Forces 別兵郎
Under-Secretary of State for War Departments 諸兵曹郎
Secretary of State for the Navy 航尚書 The Lord of Pek-′al
Under-Secretary of State for Shipbuilding 章部郎 Lord Lra-lang
Comptroller of Waters 水黃令
Marine Prefect 都水使者
Secretary of State for Home Affairs 民部尚書 Lord Kjalh-djeng
Under-Secretary of State for Census 左民曹郎
Under-Secretary of State for Census 右民曹郎
Under-Secretary of State for Police 良人郎 Lord Ljuk-lang
Under-Secretary of State for Lakes and Fisheries 水部郎
Under-Secretary of State for Surveys 左田部郎
Under-Secretary of State for Surveys 右田部郎
Secretary of State for Administration 吏部尚書 Lord Ran-prep
Under-Secretary of State for Local Affairs 二千石曹郎
Under-Secretary of State for Patronage 廕部郎 Lord Mrai-gigh
Under-Secretary of State for Strategy 虞曹郎
Under-Secretary of State for Assessments 比部曹郎
Secretary of State for Public Works 起部尚書 Lord N′er-n′ubh
Under-Secretary of State for Poor Relief 平準郎 Lord Krek-lang
Under-Secretary of State for Railways 鐵路郎 Lord Kakw
Under-Secretary of State for Highways 駕部郎
Under-Secretary of State for Unions 工會郎 Lord Begh
Under-Secretary of State for Local Works 都官曹郎
Leader of the House of Commons 中書僕射 Lord ′jek-nror
Gentlemen in Waiting 給事中 Lord Kjit-mjen
Lord Ngjon-djeng
Lord Mja-′an
Lord Hwjei-ngjarh
Lord Gwrjang-′ar
Marshal of Peers 主爵中尉 The Lord of Nem-neng
Lords in Waiting 侍中 The Lord of Hljunh-lang
The Lord of ′ebh-lang
The Lord of Gah
The Lord of Mrus
President of the Privy Council 中大夫令 The Lord of Gwrebh-lang

Life in retirement

See also