Chancellor of Tsjinh
The Chancellor of Tsjinh (晉相邦, tsjinh-smjangh-prong) is the ceremonial head and highest-ranking member of the Themiclesian Civil Service. His deputy is the Vice Chancellor of Tsjinh (晉丞相, tsjinh-djêng-smjangh). In practice, the title Chancellor of Tsjinh is always assumed by the Prime Minister of Themiclesia.
Name and translation
The word smjangh is usually interpreted as an *s- derivative from mjangh (望), "look, see". The *s- prefix in this context derives an agent noun, which provides a primitive meaning of smjangh as "looker, reviewer". The word prong means "state". Together, they form an endocentric compound term meaning "state-reviewer".
The departments of the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor(s) are called pjo′ (府), "storage", which is root in pjos (付), "to store". The Chancellor's department is translated as "Chancery" in Anglian, and that of the Vice Chancellor(s) the "Vice Chancery", with they both exist respectively; if only one of the two exists, it is called "Chancery" regardless whether it is headed by the Chancellor of Vice Chancellor(s).
As provided by the Treaty of Five Kings, Themiclesia was unified as a league of five states, with four kings under the primacy of the king of Tsjinh; these kings' territories were not annexed to Tsjinh but remained states (邦, prong), each with their own governments. It is generally thought that the Treaty had few stipulations, other than prohibiting confederacies against Tsjinh. Initially, the Tsjinh king's control over the other four was highly variable, but royal authority expanded in the late 4th and early 5th centuries. The other states' governments were not dismantled but subordinated to that of Tsjinh state, which then was led by the Chancellor of Tsjinh. Amongst the chancellors of the states, that of Tsjinh was recognized as the first amongst peers. In 492, royal authority had expanded sufficiently to prohibit the other states from appointing chancellors; thus, their remaining vice chancellors were legally inferior to the Chancellor of Tsjinh.
The Chancellor is the head of the Principal Counsels, which composed of the central administration of the Tsjinh state. Originally, he was the most senior official in the land, represented royal authority to all other officials, and was also head of the royal court when it was held; in these positions, he is comparable to a head of government relative to the Monarchy of Themiclesia.
During the Hexarchy and Tsjinh period, the chancellor was usually authoritative relative to subordinates, including the Principal Counsels and any active generals; this power may have originated with the chancellorship as some sort of regency or viceroyalty, since royal commands were not considered effective without the chancellor's assent. Since chancellors were invariably peers, the chancellor's assent usually represented the peers' views in public policy. This description remains true for Sjin and Pjang states, for the larger part. Kem, however, making active generals peers to the chancellor and vice chancellor; this dualism was later criticized as a source to administrative disorder.
One of the chancellor's chief duties was the holding court for other administrators. The frequency and procedure of such meetings varied, but the conclusions they reached were considered representative of the entire bureaucracy, called "assembled resolutions" (集議, dzjep-ngjarh). While the throne was free to overrule any request, even routine ones, made by individual administrators, the crown very seldom rejected resolutions. When one was overruled, the chief proponents of the resolution usually resigned. In practice, the crown rarely attempted to make decisions without first consluting the bureaucracy, at most commanding a topic to be re-opened. During these meetings, a lord in waiting would be present and report its proceedings to the crown.
The crown's commands, in the form of "sealed letters" (璽書, snji′-st′ja) were promulgated on such meetings and charged to the responsible department. While not a regular occurrence, the chancellor could withhold his assent to the crown's commands and return them to the palace. He could only do this before making them public, as cancelling a promulgated edict would be perceived as an affront to the throne and evidence of the chancellor's incompetence. To this day in Themiclesia, a statute, which is a form of royal command endorsed by Parliament, takes effect only when promulgated by the chancellor.
Discourse at the chancellor's court covered a great variety topics. Questions of war and peace were always discussed before a plenary assembly of bureaucrats; though few records survive of these deliberations, the variety of attendees was considered critical for success, as warfare placed considerable burdens on many areas of government. Questions of finance were usually controversial, as it involved the distribution of costs amongst royal revenue, demesne land rents and taxes, and tribute from the peers. Taking from royal coffers necessarily cut into the crown's disposable income, heavy taxation was difficult to collect and could trigger revolts, while demanding excessive tribute would alienate the chancellor from the peers.
Appointment was one of the areas in which the chancellor customarily deferred to the throne, as long as they were made according to conventions. But as conventions evolved in the 4th century into the civic election system, there were usually never more than a handful of candidates for a given position. The chancery was the place in which differences between bureaucrats and allegations of their misconduct were raised; the chancellor was expected to make an impartial judgment in both cases, and a further appeal to the throne was possible. On the other hand, the chancellor was also chief matchmaker for the crown and the princes of the blood. As royal marriages were invariably political, the selection of potential spouses was governed by considerations of diplomacy and balance within the aristocracy.
The Chancellor possessed an extensive staff in the Chancery for the discharge of his duties as the head of the administration. In general, the chancellor was permitted to appoint his own staff with significant more latitude than the heads of subordinate departments. Being on the chancellor's staff was a prestigious first appointment for aspiring administrators; while this position included many opportunities to prove one's mettle, it was also considered demanding. The Chancery had twelve departments:
- West Department (西曹, sner-dzaw): appointments within the Chancery
- East Department (東曹, tong-dzaw): appointments of bureaucrats under the rank of 2,000 bushels and military officers
- Census Department (民曹, mrjing-dzaw): the triennial census, land survey, agriculture, and calendars
- Submission Department (奏曹, dzugh-dzaw): submissions made in the Chancellor's name to the royal court
- Writs Department (辭曹, mlje-dzaw): grant of leave to bring administrators to court or to appeal judgments
- Police Department (賊曹, dzek-dzaw): local security and suppression of roving vagabonds
- Judicial Department (決曹, kot-dzaw): review of judgments made by magistrates and appeals
- Marshal Department (尉曹, ′judh-dzaw): organization of troop movements, border defence, and logistics
- Military Department (兵曹, prjang-dzaw): military strategy
- Treasury Department (金曹, krjem-dzaw): minting and storage of money and mining for precious metals and gems
- Granary Department (倉曹, tsang-dzaw): storage of staples
The functions of these departments, when a chancellor is appointed and in power, is deliberative.
Even though political power shifted to a council of ministers in the late 5th century, and monarchs were not always willing to appoint a chancellor due to his immense power, the Chancery was apparently indispensible for routine administration and as a forum for bureaucrats to bring forth ideas. As such, it became a standing organization, with or without a chancellor. In the 19th century, some of its functions were absorbed by the Cabinet Office, but the Chancery still retains some judicial functions in the modern day.
Some departments have since fallen into disuse, while others have taken up additional roles. The Census Department remained active through most of history as a tabulating office. The Submission Department too has withstood reforms as a secretariat for the central government, where most documents bound for the royal court, from the regional magistrates and other officials, are gathered and copied to appropriate recipients. The Writs Department accepted appeals from lower courts and issued orders for various actions; after a 19th-century judicial reform, this office's functions were still enlarged in the model of the Tyrannian Chancery. The Judicial Department, by the 19th century, had become an office for applications of pardons. The West, East, Police, Military, Marshal, Treasury, and Granary departments have been rendered sinecures.
The role of the vice chancellor (丞相, djêng-smjangh) depended on whether one or two of them were appointed, and if a chancellor was in office. If there was no chancellor, the vice chancellor(s) assumed his role, holding court and reviewing other administrators' submissions to the throne; however, vice chancellors did not enjoy as much authority as a chancellor at court meetings, and there are far more records of chancellors imposing their views on the assembly of bureaucrats than of vice chancellors so doing. The latter also appeared to have withheld royal edicts less frequently, though this may not be very indicative of weaker authority since withheld edicts do not usually appear in the historical record anyway. A successful vice chancellor sometimes became a full chancellor, especially if the bureaucracy endorsed his leadership.
The Tribunes, usually siding with the throne, were far more inclined to speak when a vice chancellor led the assembly than when a chancellor did; some authorities consider them the crown's mouthpieces in this context, though others say that the tribunes were simply in favour of authoritarian government at all times.
If a chancellor was in office, the vice chancellor usually functioned as an ally, unless the vice chancellor was deliberately obstructive. Historians think such an impassé usually indicated a fissure between the crown and the bureaucracy. It should be noted that, for most of Themiclesian history, a vice chancellor was not the deputy of the chancellor. If the chancellor was away or ill, a member of his staff usually took over running of the Chancery. Vice chancellors were distinct institutions of administration and possessed independent powers; if not, the crown would not have been able to exploit them in opposition to chancellors.
Symbols of office
The Chancellor, at least from the later part of the Tsjinh dynasty, possesses a greenish sash (綟綬, rjebh-djus) that is unique to his office: no officer of the bureaucracy possesses a sash that outranks that of the Chancellor. The purple sash, worn by the vice chancellors, peers, President of Tribunes, and senior generals and generally symbolizing a very high rank, is inferior to the greenish sash. Only the crimson sash worn by the emperor and the palatine princes is senior to it. The Chancellor uses a gold seal, which is shared by the vice chancellor(s), peers, and generals.
Traditionally, the sovereign shows additional deference to the Chancellor. Whenever the Chancellor appears at the royal court, the Emperor receives him and sees him off at the gate of the palace hall. When the Chancellor bows to the throne, the sovereign would reply in kind, and he sits on four mattresses, one more than his immediate juniors.
The Chancery was located directly south of 'Kên'-ljang Palace since the Tsjinh dynasty. Its location was very stable, relative to other departments that moved from time to time. The site covers around 56,000 m² and was protected by thick outer walls 8 m thick and 4 m tall. In Menghean tradition, the Chancery has one gate on each of its walls, though the gates are never closed even during evenings when the citadel's gates would be; reportedly, this was to symbolize the availability of the Chancery, but historians note that there is very little evidence suggesting the Chancery ever conducted official business at night.
Within the Chancery is a second set of walls that encloses the palace hall (殿, ntenh), where the chancellor held court. This hall is similar to those found in palaces; the dais measures 1.84 m tall, and the building upon it faced south. It is one bay narrower than the royal hall. Under the
The site of the Chancery, which moved into the Cabinet Office's buildings in 1857 in the interest of efficiency, was opened as a public park later in the 19th century.