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A comparison of the government in the tang dynasty and the government of heian japan

That being said, there were some differences in different periods, which I explained below.

A comparison of the government in the tang dynasty and the government of heian japan

Again, I apologize for a long answer, but I wish to provide an in-depth answer to concerned people. From 939 to 1400: Vietnam was in the process of state formation while China at the time was already a full-fledged state. Vietnam was, throughout the period, dominated by Buddhist factions who were both spiritual as well as secular.


This made successful dynasties inadvertently influenced and even manipulated by Buddhist priests who wielded spiritual, charismatic and thus secular power. There were two notable points to be said here. I said this because there were noticeable periods in which Buddhists were influential in all these countries.

This was perhaps because of Buddhism's strength as both a complex and popular religion.

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The rulers of the four countries were thus enticed by its ability to both provide political and social guidance as well as to convert and unite the people. In this respect, Buddhism was necessary in the process of unifying the country, and in this it shared its role with Christianity in Europe. Many early rulers in the four countries were devout Buddhists, and in Vietnam and Japan it was instrumental in unifying the country because of the divided nature of the land.

Second, whatever the role Buddhism played in the early stage, it is a common trend for East Asian rulers to curb Buddhist power in the long run, even to the point of destroying its power base.

After a period of consolidation, Buddhism was outliving its usefulness and becoming an obstacle to national unification. It was because 1 the Buddhist monasteries' hold over the people's mind, their education, spirituality and even medical needs was too much for the state to ignore, and 2 because monasteries were often tax-exempt in the earlier period, they caused a loss of tax and manpower that hampered the state development.

Some Buddhist factions were also militant in the long run, actively opposing the unification process, such as in Japan.

  1. Now finally the decree can be promulgated. Indeed, there developed an official title for the guardian of a child emperor.
  2. The lesser aristocratic ranks of the Heian nobility consisted of the descendants of lesser uji in ancient times. The rulers of the four countries were thus enticed by its ability to both provide political and social guidance as well as to convert and unite the people.
  3. Japan semi good but dated source vlib. Peasants cooperated with this process because, despite their obligation to pay rent on the land, the new arrangement offered them better rates than what they had been paying directly to the state in taxes.

So East Asian rulers had an interest in curbing Buddhism as a political force. The Chinese began the process by burning Buddhist monasteries, force the priests to renounce priesthood and return monasteries' land to the government control. This was applied by the Vietnamese and the Koreans from the 15th century onward. In Japan, aspired unifiers actively fought the militant Buddhists, to the point of burning monasteries and slaughtering monks.

So, while Vietnamese politics from 939 to 1400 might be a bit different from Chinese one, it was in the process of following the Chinese formula. By the late 14th century, Vietnamese rulers were already limiting the power of Buddhist monasteries as well as feudal lords in order to strengthen the state. From 1400, Vietnamese political model was in many ways inspired by the Chinese model and closely following its tenets.

From 1500 to 1900: Vietnam was in the process of constant expansion while China's territory mostly consolidated from the 1600s onward. The Vietnamese process of expansion lasted officially from 1471 to 1802, the year in which the last dynasty was proclaimed.

Thats a period of over 300 years, which expanded Vietnam four times its original size. This would lead to certain differences in Vietnamese politics despite its direction of following Chinese model. First, from the 1500 onward, the ruling Vietnamese dynasty, the Le, ended its role as the actual ruler of the country.

It continued its existence as figurehead rulers for about three centuries. Before that, Le rulers already embedded principles of Confucianism into Vietnamese political, social and cultural atmosphere. But their fall as actual rulers introduced new aspects of politics into Vietnam: First, the ruling court in Vietnam from the 1500s onward included a figurehead emperor and a ruling prince holding actual power.

This was in stark contrast with the absolute monarchs of China and has much similarity to Japanese shoguns.

  1. The new Metropolitan Police Board replaced the largely ceremonial imperial guard units.
  2. The sons of these daughters quickly became crown princes. Peasants in Kamakura Japan never became serfs.
  3. This was in stark contrast with the absolute monarchs of China and has much similarity to Japanese shoguns.
  4. The re-establishment of an efficient military system was made gradually through a process of trial-and-error.
  5. Capital Guards were usually recruited from provincial warriors. Especially because the same pool of aristocrats supplied both monks and ministers, conflict between the government and some of the powerful monasteries increased during the last century of the Heian period.

In the Le court in the south, the Trinh princes replaced the emperors as actual heads of state, enabled law and administration and conducted war and diplomacy in the emperor's place. While the Le emperor was actually the titular ruler, he was powerless and could be replaced at the will of the prince. The Trinh princes would hold power from the 1500s to the late 1700s, a period synonymous with the remainder of the Le period.

Heian period

Second, there was not only one but two princes or princely families who vied for control over Vietnam, the Trinh and Nguyen princes. This was again in contrast to the Chinese situation. The princes ruled the two parts of the country and conducted their businesses separately from each other and even without permission of the emperor. They even set down different standards of rituals, clothing, law, education etc.

This pattern would lead to more entrenched regional differences in Vietnam, which persisted until modern day. Eventually, however, the conflict between the two princes hampered the unification of the country, and as they declined in power, the historical trend turned from division back to unification. The Trinh and Nguyen princes fought each other for more than 200 years, but in the end they were so weak that they were defeated by the rebels of the Tay Son rebellion.

Chapter 12: East Asia 800-1400 C.E. Flashcards Preview

The most powerful of Tay Son leaders, Nguyen Hue, eventually ousted even the Le emperor, who were as powerless as ever, to establish a dynasty. He could not defeat the remnants of the Nguyen princes, and shortly after his dynasty was in turn ousted. The Nguyen dynasty, the last dynasty in Vietnam, restored the country to unity and, again, moved the Vietnamese political model back to the Chinese orbit. To conclude, I argue that, due to the country's proximity and similar economic and cultural characteristics, China and Vietnam's political models and governments were so much similar to each other.

But, due to Vietnam's specific environment and historical progresses, there were periods that it diverged from Chinese model in order to stabilize itself, only to shift back to the Chinese model in the end.

That was the reason why, in the end of the second stage explained above, Vietnam made the same mistake China made when faced with Western imperialism, and fell much harder than the Chinese. Perhaps due to their common environment and common path of development, it was fated that Vietnam and China would make the same mistake throughout the two's history.