The Tsjinh (Shinasthana: 晉, tsjinh) was a polity located in modern-day Themiclesia that first arose during the Hexarchy and in 265 established its primacy over competing states. In canonical historiography, it is remembered as "first dynasty" of a unified Themiclesia, though later scholarship has considerably nuanced this assessment. The precise origins of the Tsjinh state are difficult to establish with certainty, though it is thought to have colonized Themiclesia in the 4th c. BCE and led some form of a clan-like organization until finally settling near where Kien-k'ang is today, then establishing a true state. During the Hexarchy, it engaged in military expansion and absorbed surrounding polities. The Treaty of Five Kings was agreed in 265 and established the Tsjinh king as the first of the five states, though Tsjinh as a state never grew to encompass the others. The eponymous dynasty was overthrown in 420 by Sungh.



The rise of the Tsjinh polity is not well understood. While there is a lengthy family tree described in received texts and bronzes, the first historically-described ruler Pêk (辟) seems to have led the polity around the earlier part of the 3rd c. BCE. His ancestry can be established to about ten generations before himself with some certainty, but little other than their names are known; however, because these ancestors gave rise to branches of the clan, each of whom minted their bronzes that recover a shared ancestry, the family tree is seen as reliable in se. The Tsjinh are not the first Meng group in Themiclesia to keep annals, and their early activity is found on other states' annals; these polities interact with Tsjinh through diplomacy, warfare, and marriage.

After his reign, the Tsjinh polity regularly married with other polities of Meng origin and attacked "barbarians", whose identities remain elusive. Some believe they represent Themiclesia's aboriginal population, who may be responsible for non-Meng cultures long-predating settlement. Like many other Meng polities, the Tsjinh practiced human sacrifice, in both cultic and funerary contexts, and the need to obtain victims may have created desire for military action against aboriginal populations. The earliest Tsjinh documents hint that "persons" were amongst the spoils split between Tsjinh and its allies; these references may have been more overt as originally written but later were redacted for moralistic reasons.

According to the recent scholarship, Pêk instituted major reforms to the succession systems that had very broad consequences. Before Pêk, succession within the Tsjinh clan may have been plurilinear, the leadership passing between lineages first through siblings then through maternal cross-cousins, with father-son and paternal cousin successions prohibited. Though this system would have given each lineage an opportunity to hold leadership, it appears Pêk, who may have been a younger brother, desired to pass leadership to his son or nephew rather than his cousins. According to a different interpretation, Pêk himself may not have been in line to take the throne according to succession rules. His succession is considered suspect or anomalous in several ways, including the identity of his consort and relationship with his predecessor.

Pêk's successor, Stsorh, passed the throne to Pêk's son, Ga′, in 254, but the transition may not have been peaceful. Ga′s reign is poorly received by historians but lasted over two decades, whereupon a civil war ensued resulting in the restoration of Stsorh's cousin, Ran. Ran's relationship with his successor, K.rak, is unclear. Due to K.rak's perceived illegitimacy, the clans revolted against and killed him, provoking the Quarrel of Six Princes (六公子之亂, rjuk-kong-tsje′-tje-ronh), which took place around 201 – 200, severely weakening the senior lines of descent. A peripheral line took power, possibly with foreign assistance, and introduced a clearer succession system, which preferred fraternity to collinearity; only when a ruler has no offspring or sibling would the crown pass to cousins.

After the Quarrel of Six Princes, the annals encompassed more than records of sacrifices to deities. The Quarrel required pretenders to enlist outside support, to court proximal and consanguineous polities, cadet branches, and settler groups. Governmental functions once within the clan's purview began to involve a novel class of outsiders. Once the Quarrel ended, the Tsjinh court was aflood with new bloodlines that posed a severe threat to the hereditary power of the successful lines of the royal house. Thus, power struggles were no longer occurring between branches of the royal family, but between them and new aristocrats. The need to communicate ideas may have been responsible for generating the earliest literature created by the Tsjinh court.


The Hexarchy (六邦之治, rjok-prong-tje-lrjegh) is so named due to the diplomatic order that emerged at its termination in 256 CE, with six major states extant; for most of this period, states vied for dominance and aggressively colonized territories hitherto unpopulated or populated by non-Meng populations. The process of colonization had a strong influence on the histories of all states, such that some historians have preferred to use the term "colonization period" to refer to the Hexarchy; they argue that the name "hexarchy" implies it was an era dominated by these six states that flourished at its end and their survival appear predestined. From a historiographic perspective, the historical traditions of these six states have been the best-studied, and the "six states" trope is itself highly historical. It is a radical position, with some mainstream attention, that the native population of Themiclesia may have remained numerically dominant until the colonial period but escaped the treatment of historians due to poor attestation.

The Tsjinh state faced major offensives from Teng and Pjang states during the Quarrel of Six Princes, and Patriarch Tjaw, who re-established stability after two decades of infighting, seems to have intensified colonization efforts by both the patriarchal and other houses. His desire to secure the support of surrounding Meng states may have compelled him to distance native populations, who have been intermarrying with the Tsjinh house for centuries. Furthermore, the need to provide allied Meng clans, whose populations were growing rapidly, with opportunities to develop economically could have contributed to that policy, which outlasted several reigns and which some historians seek to explain through social pressures in addition to political considerations.

Treaty of Five Kings

Regency of N.rang

After King Kl′ang died in 334 without an heir, his childless brother, King Mugh, was enthroned at the advanced age of 74. Two years later, Mugh also died, leaving the throne vacant. A succession crisis occurred between at least fourteen princes of the royal house, whose claims are all questionable, and after an unrecorded altercation at court, the Duke of N.rang (唐公) came to dominate the royal court. This event is described as smjangh-gwjang-stjit (相王室), or "supervision of the royal house" in histories, but excavated materials suggest that Sungh did not merely place the royal house "under wardship", but actually took the throne—bronze inscriptions record that he "sat upon the throne and made charges to the many dukes, earls, manorial elders, lords of the land, and the many lineages" (公即立舍羣公眔徹侯眔伯眔君眔百姓). For the next fifty years, N.rang and his successor dominated the royal house, enthroning and deposing puppets as they saw fit.


Before the Hexarchy, the embryonic Tsjinh state began to distinguish several types of regions, but state boudaries in the modern sense did not yet exist. The royal household itself owned agricultural land, called "royal land" (公田, klong-lin) and worked by cadet branches and slaves.[1]  Forests controlled by the royal household was sometimes granted to agricultural clans permanently (甸, linh), on condition of tribute at harvest. Land was also occupied by other clans performing services to the royal clan, such as manufacturing, construction, hunting, mining, winemaking, writing, and many others.  Though canonical histories described these clans to be enfeoffed by the king, most modern authorities favour a looser relationship bound by mutual defence, economic reliance, common ancestry, or marriage. These clans were collectively called the "several lineages" (羣姓).

By the 3rd c. BCE, the royal clan began to expand its military power in more distant quarters, creating barons that provided military services, in a more classical feudal sense. Some barons


Clan period

In the study of early Themiclesian state structures, historians frequently utilize comparisons with Menghean precedents and contemporaries, on the assumption that settlement in Themiclesia was done not by individuals but entire clans en masse, which were the functional units of political actors in early Menghean society. While some have voiced concerns about this approach, since the first Meng settlements in Themiclesia outdate the emergence of reliable records by several centuries, it remains nevertheless the dominant methodology in the field.

The earlier part of the Tsjinh polity is characterized as a clan-based government; opportunities and responsibilities were shared as a matter of course between different branches of the clan. The leader of the clan, appearing in the earliest inscriptions as kong (公), may have been selected not purely on a hereditary basis but with senior figures involved. Nevertheless, the word kong itself indicates a preference for seniority within the clan's power structure. Branches of the family may be assigned to colonize a new area, to extract or work a certain resource, or to perform a certain set of skilled tasks. It is assumed that these designations are hereditary. The leaders of these branches, the tsje′ (子) form the court of the clan leader, whose duty is best described as ensuring the cadet branches to carry out their tasks effectively and to share the fruits of their labour with the other branches of the clan. In the event of threat of force, the different branches of the clan marshalled in each other's defence.

The clan-based government appears to have functioned smoothly in a settlement of limited size and membership, but disputes occurred as the branches subdivided and created more settlements and encountered other clans active in the same areas. Those branches assigned to territorial occupation tended to diversify, whether out of inconvenience of distance or ambition, as much as their parent clans did and thus became self-sufficient, encourage their transformation into polities as well. In some cases, these new polities became completely independent, but in others they remained subordinate to their parent clan, fulfilling some sort of fixed obligation in exchange for recognition or common defence. Other, smaller clans active in the same region may have sought protection of the Tsjinh and performed some function as compensation.

Thus, by the end of the 3rd c. BCE, three groups were active in the Tsjinh court—the senior house (公族), the cadet houses (諸子族), and the outsiders (外族). Some historians dispute the validity of distinguishing the clan-proper from the cadet houses, noting the kong's position was based on the "affections of common heritage" rather than material superiority; however, others point out that in face of challenges by outsiders, the kong is seen to have maintained some sort of tangible authority. The prevailing opinion today is that allegiances and factions were fluid during this time, each branch of the clan seeking to expand its influence whether at the expense of others or by enlisting new material or human resources, while the kong attempted to maintain control over the competing branches through various measures.

The Tsjinh at the end of the 3rd c. BCE was evidently not very territorial and had few borders. While the Tsjinh fortified settlements, they defended territories beyond the fortifications only for reasons of economic production. Other clans were able to pass through the general area settled by the Tsjinh clan freely, or even settle amongst them while maintaining independence, as long as they did not threaten the incumbents' activities. This suggests that political power was primarily an interpersonal relationship, not one based on access to land in the feudal sense. This may have been a result of the sparsity of settlement and abundance of land in Themiclesia; a settlement could move to a new location with its belongings in tow, since at least some forms of production that were migratory. In references to the Tsjinh as a whole, they are consistently referred to tsjinh-njing "the Tsjihn people", which also implies that heritage alone was at least a component of political allegiance in this period.

Tsjinh state

The Quarrel of Six Princes deeply disrupted the balance of power between the senior line, the cadets, and the outsiders, all of which had been hereditary interests to that point. The need to prepare for civil and external war with Teng and Pjang forced Tsjinh leaders to rely increasingly on unaffiliated advisors to administer resources more efficiently. The end result of the Quarrel is the weakening of all of the six pretenders to the throne, allowing the senior house to acquire influence in each pretender's support base or to motivate their defection. This was justified, as appears from sparse records, on the grounds of pressure applied by outsider clans; however, this act of centralization also offended the cadet houses, who complained that the senior house had betrayed them. To compete with them, outsider houses formed an important alliance with the senior house, which came to define Tsjinh politics in the aftermath of the Quarrel.

Cognizant of the dangers of an overly-independent hereditary aristocracy, the senior house only recognized the local influences of outsider aristocrats as much as will lead them to lend their services and forces to counterbalance the cadets and to partake in the defence of Tsjinh interests. One measure taken was to limit the new aristocrats' ability to create new settlements and make themselves polities. These new aristocrats, of more limited ability, generally assented to these diminished terms and agreed to serve the senior house. In older historical works, this change is seen as the civic genesis of the Themiclesians, the state's breaching the confines of family ties, whereas previously it had been such a compelling force that it defined virtually all policies. In more recent analyses, scholars have reframed the decision to replace "ties of blood" with "ties of interest" as a change compelled by necessity, rather than a conscious decision to create public politics that transcended clan-based interests.


Despite the suppression of the cadet houses, they continued to have a strong influence in Tsjinh politics. The senior house's reaction to this was threefold, to claim lands before the cadets and outsiders could colonize them, to refrain from giving hereditary titles to new cadets, and to strengthen its own military power. Tsjinh's situation amongst the major states in Themiclesia is not unique, there being a general trend for the senior houses of each clan or state to sever ties of blood and liberalize politics for more effectual governance. Diverse solutions were explored to approached this problem. Some states, such as Teng, used military force to crush recalcitrant houses, at the risk of perpetuating rifts in society and appearing disunited before enemies. Tsjinh's policy was more moderate, balancing a patchwork of interests. This tradition of moderation seems to have become canonical in later history. Due to the major house's proactive colonization of land, population under its control, and thus economic strength, increased more rapidly than those under the cadets. By about 100 BCE, the major house had become hegemonic and accordingly appropriated the title "king" (王, gwjang) for itself. In terms of terminology, we see this phrase tsjinh-tai-prong (晉多邦), "the several Tsjinh settlements" singularized in foreign sources, suggesting that domestic politics had undergone some sort of unification.

Non-land titles

The earlier practice of establishing cadet colonies effectively limited the size of the demesne land of the major house in earlier Tsjinh history. After this practice was abandoned in consequence of the Quarrel of Six Princes, there was considerable development in the administrative apparatus to make effective use state resources. This allowed the senior house to acquire a larger income and was intrumental in establishing its supremacy over others. The rise of a professional bureaucracy followed closely with the appearance of the first historical records and preserved prose compositions; some historians have described this as a democratization of political access, where rulers were willing to grant wealth and honour to the under-class for the provision of knowledgeable services.

During this period, the ultimate prize for an aspiring bureaucrat was titular aristocracy, which entitled the holder and descendants to a permanent monetary income. This form of aristocracy was distinct from the cadet and outsider houses, which could create branch houses and colonize more land, receiving political, military, and material support from them and thereby grow to rival the senior house. Titular aristocracy did not pose the same threat, since financial income could not multiply itself or be converted as easily to political and military power. Most importantly, it did not reduce the tax-base for the senior house or create potential opponents. Furthermore, since the senior house was the sole guarantor of the benefits that the title carried, it also encouraged the holder and his successors to support the senior house, to protect their continued income.

Though the Tsjinh had virtually stopped creating land-based titles, the number of financial ones multiplied as heritable rewards were culturally coveted. For bureaucrats who achieved this form of nobility, it alleviated them from governing settlements and allowed them to focus on their jobs. To a certain extent, the creation of permanent bonds of seems to have been preferred by the Tsjinh senior house as well. This added a fourth faction to the Tsjinh court and a novel dynamic to court life. Bureaucrats, who were prized across the states due to their ability to centralize administration and combat established aristocrats, became the subject of controversies stirred up mostly aristocrats. The cadet houses, who were out-competed by bureaucratic rule, openly circulated rumours that bureaucrats could not be trusted, instead asking for positions themselves arguing that only blood could guarantee loyalty. They pointed to historical situations two centuries ago when houses normally embroiled in infighting could unit against a common external enemy. Tsjinh politics was characterized by struggles between the factions in the 1st century BCE.

Suppression of the cadets

The currency by which the cadets and some outsider houses courted support of the Tsjinh king was military cadre, as a tradition. In earlier eras, military organization had a directive influence on the perambulating state. While the Tsjinh king had a peasant levy, the better-trained and better-armoured troops were produced by the cadet houses, mostly from their junior members. They filled roles such as heavy infantry, chariotry, and cavalry. The reason why the royal house did not produce professional warriors, or did but in insignificant numbers, is not well-understood. It is possible that the cadet houses were sometimes threatened by coups led by military officers, and the bureaucracy did not wish to entertain such a possibility at the royal house.

After a particularly bloody phase of the Hexarchy, in which the cadet houses mobilized to assist the royal house, they prevailed on the Tsjinh king in 70 BCE to curb the bureaucracy. They argued that the king should not support "pen-pushers" at the expense of those who had bled for him. The chancellor, the chief bureaucrat, replied that the cadets' warriors would have starved without the bureaucracy's sending food from a great distance away. He also said that the warriors had outlived their usefulness, now that a peace treaty was in force. Sending them home, they found out that the royal court had made a private agreement with Pjang to ransack and take the cadets' territories while the majority of their troops were away. Moreover, they also provoked the cadet houses' slaves and serfs to defect to the royal house. Since this episode, the number of active cadet houses dropped sharply, and the existing ones forced to submit to central administration in one degree or another. The poet Rjar Sngw′jan, such a cadet warrior, lamented in 68 that "as the last rabbit is caught for dinner, so shall the hound join it on the table".


Approaching the start of the Common Era, a centralized bureaucracy began to develop around and supplant the royal court, which is understood to function like an assembly of senior officials and deliberated on all areas of government. Not all members of the court had fixed positions, and nobles by heritage had a voice on assemblies. By sidestepping the court and embracing administrators, the ruler was able to make decisions more independently.

The early bureaucracy was led by several important officers, who had fixed jurisdictions. Amongst them, there were the Royal Secretary (御史大夫, ngjah-srje′-ladh-pja), Royal Councillor (中大夫, trjung-ladh-pja), and Comptroller of the House (公族大夫, kong-tsok-ladh-pja). When troops were levied, a general (將軍, tsjang-kwjer) was appointed. While the Royal Secretary was later to become the leader of the Tribunes, in this era he was allowed to read all state papers and probably advise the monarch over them; his later supervisory function was, probably, a by-product of his power over papers. The Royal Councillor was also able to advise the monarch but did not have the same access to reports sent to the monarch. The Comptroller of the House managed the monarch's household. Other important officials were introduced on the model of the Meng dynasty, such as the Inner Administrator and Privy Treasurer. In time, these tended to displace extant ones.

When it was necessary, a Chancellor (相邦, smjangh-prong) and Vice Chancellor (丞相, gljing-smjangh) would be appointed above them.

Locally, settlements directly controlled by royal court were grouped into counties, which were administrative and productive units. A non-heriditary country magistrate was appointed in each county and was subject consistent, instituionalized oversight from the monarch. The magistrate was responsible for maintaining order, resolving disputes, collecting taxes, and levying troops. If bronze or other natural resources were present, he would also oversee their extraction and manufacture. Around 100 BCE, counties were few and interspersed between fiefs, but they have become dominant in Tsjinh at the start of the Common Era, corroborating the waxing of royal authority. Due to their direct control by the royal court, these counties were said to be kong-stjit, "royal household", as opposed to an aristocratic one. While the portion of land ruled by the hereditary nobility would decrease during this time, they also increased when the ruler had to rely on nobles against another faction at court. Under the county were village aldermen.

Foreign relations

Cultural heritage

Human sacrifice

The early Tsjinh extensively used human sacrifice in a number of contexts. This custom began to wane at the start of the Common Era and was out of fashion by the end of the dynasty. In principle, normal members of society were not used as victims, though exceptions exist. Most victims were combatants or civilians from enemy states or slaves of other provenance. Human sacrifice was practiced in various cults towards deities or ancestors and for funerals of the elite; except for funerals, every known ceremony could be done with or without human victims or any quantity of them.

It is not known whether certain factors required or motivated the use of human victims, though the fact that human victims were always mentioned before animals seems to suggest they were considered of higher value. Single victims were the most common, but up to 500 have been sacrificed at one time. In some instances, the identity or quantity of victims was selected by divination. There did not appear to a preference for gender or age in most circumstances, and victims both male and female and from infancy to old age have all been discovered. However, nationality was a factor considered; in sacrifices towards ancestors who have military accomplishments against a certain group, victims of that origin are preferred.


The political systems established by the Tsjinh under the Treaty of Five Kings were revered by Themiclesian scholars of later generations as those of an age of peace and prosperity. Historian C. Cwang wrote in 1852 that Themiclesian politics for many centuries was dominated by the struggle between two political traditions, the native one under the Treaty and the imperial one introduced by the Menghean monarchy. Extended freely, it touches upon the identity of early Themiclesians and their relationship to contemporary Menghe. In the early Meng dynasty, many dissidents believed that the autocratic form of government advanced by Emperor Ngjon (元皇帝, Standard Menghean: Wŏn) was alien; however, historians point out that King Ngjon of Rjang (who was almost contemporary with the former) enjoyed a successful reign contending for the same sort of autocratic power and was not then considered alien.

Kinship and marriage

The kinship and marriage customs practiced by the Tsjinh royal family has puzzled Themiclesian scholars since the Mrangh dynasty, who fell into two camps to explain their distinctiveness compared to canonical Menghean culture. One held that the Tsjinh's customs were primitive to those later attested in Menghe, while another believed it was a result of corruption in the process of colonization. Modern scholars have generally accepted that neither can be regarded as a satisfactory description of the origins of the Tsjinh kinship and marriage system.

According to the analysis of [nationality] anthropologist A. B., the Tsjinh culture could be divided into two broad eras, which he names the "endogamous" and "exogamous" eras. He takes changes in kinship systems as underlying explanations for certain phenomena in royal succession, the emergence of historical records, and even several civil wars. The boundary of the eras is P′rjêk's reign. In his theory, the Tsjinh nobility in the endogamous era divided itself into ten patrilineal lineages, which married each other and all shared the right to inherit the leadership. These ten lineages were further grouped into two moieties between which the leadership must pass after each generation, though all siblings in one generation inherited in order of age.

Moiety A Moiety B
krap ′rjut
prjang′ têng
mjet kje′
k.rang sjing
njem′ kwrji′

Under this early system, he proposes that succession between father and son was prohibited. Within each generation, each sibling must marry into the same lineage in the other moiety, and once the siblings all died, the leadership would pass to maternal cross-cousins, and so forth, until the entire generation ran out. Such a theory would explain the relative emphasis on generations rather than individual monarchs in cultic activity and the earliest written material. This, however, is not an uncontroversial interpretation, and some traditionalist scholars still accept a wholly-patrilinial model of agnatic seniority, which more accurately characterized later generations.

List of rulers





See also


  1. It should be noted that the term "royal household" is here anachronically used. It is only "royal" because it later developed into a kingdom, and during this period it was only the most resourceful of many clans. Territorial sovereignty was not, according to most scholars, a feature of the embryonic state.