Mrangh

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The Restored Meng Dynasty (中孟, 543–752) is the second half of the Meng dynasty under canonical Themiclesian historiography. It was a re-constitution of Rjang state with the exiled Meng emperor I Ye (李睿 rje'-luih) acclaimed as monarch, replacing the Siaw that voluntarily vacated the throne for I Ye. The Dynasty saw the ascension of eight emperors from six generations, ultimately forced to abdicate in favour of another branch of the Siaw House that rose to prominence. The Restored Meng sharply departed from the proactive Siaw rule that came before (492—543), in that the throne took only a passive interest in public policy in a way described as "almost laissez-faire" by some scholars.[1]

History

Restoration of I Ye

In mid-542, I Ye, the emperor of Snin-ragh (千鷺), pretending to all Menghe, abandoned his capital city with his relatives, officials, scholars, and other followers and travelled over the the Dzhungestani desert to Themiclesia. I Ye's arrival caused considerable confusion in Themiclesia, around the quesiton of his future status and that of his offsprings and his counterpart in Themiclesia. He would not surrender his title and insisted on governing Themiclesia, but the Themiclesian court was skeptical, given his inability to prevent the Kim from expelling him from country. Moreover, it was argued that the Kim State's objective was to eliminate the last remaining bloodline of the Meng Dynasty, which lost control over much of Menghe in the 200s; with a bloodline extant, Kim's claim to legitimacy would be open to doubt, and the nomad state may eventually attempt to invade Themiclesia only to eliminate I Ye and his successors, thereby destroying Themiclesia.

A leading house, Gwjang, was critical of I Ye's demands, saying that all the aristocratic houses of Themiclesia were likewise refugees, and if I Ye were invited to rule, then any one of them would be as competent. Gwjang K'rjangh, Chancellor and Prime Minister, even appealed to religious overtones of kingship, stating that I Ye was "abandoned by the heavens and people" and was no longer fit to rule. Gwjang's opponent, Ga Me', President of Tribunes, argued that, from a legal perspective, I Ye was still the legitimate heir to the Meng Dynasty, to which Themiclesia undoubtedly paid allegiance centuries ago, and there was no reason to infer a change in this relationship. Eventually, the court decided to have the King abdicated in favour of I Ye. His throne came with provisions that the Themiclesian courtiers demanded, further weakening an already weak monarchy. That civil aristocrats be allowed more latitude seems to have been a concession that I Ye made to acquire their support. The existing royal house was granted the title of Prince of Gar-nem (河南王), soothing those who did not want to serve the new monarchy.

On the first day of the legal year beginning in 543, Gwjang led aristocrats to acclaim I Ye as ruler. As soon as he took the throne, he attempted a coup against his prime minister, learning of the latter's objections to his enthronement; his edict was intercepted and rejected by Gwjang. He prevailed upon the new monarch that the aristocrats' support for him was fully conditional on the security of their political influence, private property, and social status. If I Ye dismissed his prime minister for disobedience, other aristocrats would only turn on him, fearing a similar fate; if the edict was published and publicly flaunted, the monarchy would only become a laughingstock. Thus by destroying the draft, Gwjang was "protecting" the reputation of the monarchy and "the progeny of the Emperor". I Ye, unable to procure another prime minister that was willing to accept the precedent of a monarch unilaterally removing him, capitulated.

Political identity

While the monarchy was virtually powerless, except during the reigns of more proactive and able monarchs, such as Kaw-tsung, that it could lay claim to Meng's heritage altered Themiclesia's political identity and policy choices in later ages. Whereas the first formal dynasty established in 265 by Gwjang Du' was led by an ersatz-kaiser-like figure that enjoyed all the dignities of an emperor except the title, I Ye's arrival substituted the substitute for the actual. While the Meng-Rjang did not last long, all later dynasties came to power by abdication, rather than overthrowing and re-establishing the state. Such peaceful transfer of power was thought to preserve the legitimacy of Menghean crown, which came to rule (albeit in name only) by such a peaceful transition. Into the 19th century, Themiclesia's Emperor was still thought of as the rightful ruler of both Menghe and Themiclesia, though this belief is now considered offensive to Menghe and socially unacceptable.

In terms of its effects on the public, as the Meng-Rjang progressed, literary trends shifted from landscapes and Poddhism to history, and a sense of patriotism developed around Themiclesia's image as the seat of Meng culture, in addition to political legitimacy. Poetry such as "Peacock Glides Evermore" received critical acclaim, when only a century ago it would have been considered mundane and shallow. Additionally, terms such as "Middle Earth" (中土) and "Central Illustrious Land" (中華) were applied to Themiclesia only after I Ye's arrival.

Foreign policy

Territorial extent

Like all Themiclesian dynasties, the monarchy claimed the entire world as its jurisdiction. The extent of governance, however, was defined by the ability of the state to survey land and establish household records for the populace on them. Military occupation was not seen to integrate territories into Themiclesia-proper; however, lack of military presence was also not thought to detract from claims to territory. When I Ye escaped from Chollǒ, the household records of that state was transported to Themiclesia, and it seems the Dynasty continued to derive legitimacy from a census conducted decades then centuries ago. Throughout the Dynasty, the court appointed and salaried governors for provinces and prefectures physically in Menghe that it had no ability, or even plan, over which to assert control. Along with annual bribes to Columbian natives to pay homage at court, this represented a very large outlay that the court struggled to meet.

As it inherited power directly from the Siaw-Rjang immediately preceding, its initial territories extended from what is today Yanarksbourg in Maverica to just south of the modern border with Nukkumaa. Throughout the dynasty, Themiclesia was subject to incursions from the south by Maverican nomads, which slowly pushed the border north.

Government

The Meng-Rjang Dynasty government had the emperor at its heart, and most state decisions, as defined by the Administrative Code (mlêngh), required the emperor's nominal assent. The quintessentially-Themiclesian institutions of the inner and outer courts were already established at this point but saw further elaboration. The inner court was responsible for making policy and administrative decisions that belonged to the emperor's remit, while the outer court was responsible for their implementation, centrally and locally.

Since the unification of the Tsjins state in 265, Themiclesia was politically divided into the demesne (縣官, gwênh-kwal) and the dominions (王國, kwek); the former was directly controlled by the Tsjins court and its successors, while the latter, formerly independent kingdoms, were ruled by hereditary houses under vassalage. During the Tsjins period, the demesne accounted for about one-fourth of all land and about one-third of the populace; the share of the demesne was gradually increased by ambitious kings at the expense of dominions, though periodically major dominions were still carved out of the demesne as political reward or colonization. By the 500s, about half of Themiclesia was in the demesne, but the Meng emperor proceeded to create new dominions to secure the support of aristocrats at court. The demesne was further subdivided into the Inner Region (內史, nubh-srje') and prefectures (郡, kljul). Both are ultimately composed of counties (縣, gwênh). The Inner Region was a prefecture-like entity around the capital city, but parts of its governance was integrated with the central government compared to other prefectures. The average number of counties per prefecture was between 15 and 20.

Outer Court

The outer court was nominally led by the Chancellor (相國, sjangs-kwek) and Vice Chancellor(s) (丞相, gljing-sjangs). Under them were the Principal Counsels, forming the central government; each of the Principal Counsels lead a department overseeing the implementation of policies in broad areas, such as the state cult and veneration of imperial ancestors, revenues, and diplomacy. Subordinate to them were bureau heads that had jurisdiction over narrower areas. The number of Principal Counsels varied from time to time, but a number were deemed fixed positions, filled even if completely sinecure. While the bureaus were legally subject to the direction of Principal Counsels, the politics of the Mrangh was, in reality, similar to that of the Rjang, with the Inner Court sidelining the Principal Counsels and taking charge of the bureaus directly.

Inner court

The inner court is centred on the Council of Correspondence, which is the office that receives all papers bound for the emperor; in opening and reading reports, which is done before the reports are read to the emperor, the secretaries in the Council affix their opinions and draft responses in the emperor's voice. These drafts are then presented with the letters themselves for the emperor's approval. Since the Council has access to all papers accessible to the emperor, it often has the power to establish co-ordinate policies and draft responses to each letter according to its policies. During the Meng-Rjang Dynasty, the Council of Correspondence, using its position as the secretariat of all major state affairs, created almost all policies, with only minor influence from the crown itself. The Council had a panel of seven or eight leaders and hundreds of subordinate clerks, each possessing a varying degree of authority over a specific field of government. Major policies are made by consensus amongst its leaders.

The emperor is furnished with advice on a more personal level by three types of attendants—regular, meridian, and cavaliers. Though their titles differ, their functions are largely indistinguishable. While the emperor is rarely assertive, he is in a position to grant personal favours and motivate the Council to alter their policies in slight ways or make exceptions.

List of monarchs

For Meng sovereigns in Chŏllo, see Five States and Seven Fiefdoms
Personal name Reign Posthumous name
roih 543 – 558 hruh-ngjon-têgh 孝元帝
ra′ 558 – 574 hruh-gwal-têgh 孝桓帝
tsjêng-njing 清仁 574 – 602 hruh-k′lang-têgh 孝康帝
ngwradh 602 – 619 hruh-tsjêngh-têgh 孝靜帝
kwrjei′ 619 – 624 hruh-mrjang-têgh 孝明帝
bron-k′lêngh 孿磬 624 – 634 hruh-drjung-têgh 孝沖帝
kung-tje 恭芝 634 – 662 hruh-brjêng-têgh 孝平帝
mrê′ 662 – 681 hruh-ng′janh-têgh 孝獻帝
k′lang 681 – 701 hruh-gwih-têgh 孝惠帝
n′ubh 退 701 – 709 hruh-rjeng-têgh 孝靈帝
kjung′ 709 – 747 hruh-mjen-têgh 孝文帝
kwrei′ 747 – 753 hruh-mrjing′-têgh 孝愍帝

See also

References

  1. Burton, A. Themiclesia, 1.