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”.
Early political career
Foreign secretary (1863 – 65)
Foreign secretary (1869 – 72)
Prime minister (1873 – 77)
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.
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 had no time or interest in affairs of state, being concerned with subsistence through agriculture, handicraft, or industry, and the Liberal agenda is unrealistic about creating a nation of political equals. Tl’jang-mjen rebutted that M’i believed commoners to be “simply less intelligent by reason of their birth”. M’i replied that commoners’ detachment from public life is a product “of their economic condition, not that of their birth” and, as a remedy, commoners have created the aristocracy to manage politics on their behalf, but none outside the Conservative Party seemed to take him seriously. While M’i faded from public view, his views influenced New Conservatism of the late 19th century, which co-opted social legislation, originating in the House of Lords, against the industrial class to justify morally the prolongment of aristocratic power and the organization of the working class as a political group opposing the Liberal Party. Tl’jang-mjen’s acrimonious criticism of M’i, ironically, forced his party to adapt and ultimately to transform into 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 nominal equality. The Liberal Party also disseminated the view that Themiclesia was a “republican monarchy”, in that the monarchy and the people both constituted the state and interacted with the other in a mutually-accepted way. This made it more acceptable to criticize the monarchy as far as actions pertaining to the public was concerned. While the difference between public and personal actions by the crown had long been recognized, Lord Tl’jang-mjen passed several acts that spelled out the difference, which 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 passed by Emperor Mjen-tsung. 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.
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.” But the Lord of M’i refused to speak about the subject of soldiers’ allegiances, believing it was a “invented question” best left unanswered when precedent sufficed. On this subject, M'i was more popularly received than Tl'jang mjen.
Cabinet ministers in bold.
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|