HIST4137 Legal History of Traditional China (3 units)
The course begins by introducing the origins of Chinese Law from the Shang to the Han periods. Next, by exploring the respective legislative processes and debates in the Tang, the early Ming and the late Qing, the aims, differences and some key statutes of the Tang Code, the Great Ming Code and the New Great Qing Code are introduced and compared. This is followed by discussions on the authentic courtroom experiences of late imperial China, using materials such as the Washing Away of Wrongs and other commentaries on the codes, selected judicial casebooks from the Song to the Qing, and manuals for legal masters and judicial guides found in the popular encyclopedias. Then, to illustrate the long-term legal development of China, selected types of legal offences are analysed, with special attention to the different treatment of the criminals who committed the same offence in different periods. Before concluding, the legal rights and discrimination against marginal social groups and the legal information found in religious practices teachings and popular novels from traditional China are discussed to see how law interacted with popular society.
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