Catalogue


Monarchs and ministers : the Grand Council in Mid-Chʻing China, 1723-1820 /
Beatrice S. Bartlett.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1991.
description
xxi, 417 p. : ill.
ISBN
0520065913
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1991.
isbn
0520065913
catalogue key
2006812
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"No one in the West knows the archives of China's last dynasty better than Professor Bartlett. Monarchs and Ministers affords us one of the first truly informed views of imperial Chinese policy-making from the inside."--Frederic Wakeman, University of California, Berkeley "Monarchs and Ministers is one of those rare works that commands unanimous assent and constitutes a breakthrough."--Pierre-Henri Durand, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris
Flap Copy
"No one in the West knows the archives of China's last dynasty better than Professor Bartlett. Monarchs and Ministersaffords us one of the first truly informed views of imperial Chinese policy-making from the inside."--Frederic Wakeman, University of California, Berkeley " Monarchs and Ministersis one of those rare works that commands unanimous assent and constitutes a breakthrough."--Pierre-Henri Durand, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1992-02:
A thoroughly researched and engaging book that offers a revisionist interpretation of the Grand Council during the Ch'ing (Q'ing) Dynasty. By design, the book focuses mainly on the history, the structure, and responsibilities of the Grand Council from 1723-1820, when according to Bartlett, the Ch'ing government moved from monarchical rule to ministerial administration. Imperial will, the propensity toward secrecy, extralegal dynamics, changes in communication, informality, military campaigns, needs, and perhaps ministerial ambitions of Grand Council members all played a role in the evolution of this inner court. Contrary to the conventional view of increasing monarchical despotism, the rise of the Grand Council created a system of government that reduced the need for monarchical intervention. It often undermined imperial excesses. The Grand Council's consolidation of power and the strength of the Yung-cheng and Ch'ien-lung Emperors enabled the Ch'ing Dynasty to attain its greatness during the period 1723-1820; it was, however, the Grand Council that extended the dynastic longevity into the 20th century. Chinese characters in the bibliography and index eliminate the confusion that Romanization often creates. More than 100 pages of appendixes and notes illustrate the meticulous research into Grand Council archives in Beijing and Taipei. A "must" library acquisition, suitable for general readers and specialists.-H. T. Wong, Eastern Washington University
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, February 1992
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Summaries
Long Description
This book describes the transformation of Ch'ing governance from monarchical rule to ministerial administration, presenting a wholly new account of the Grand Council's founding and rise to dominance. This period has been viewed as an era of intensified government centralization and increasing autocracy, but Bartlett persuasively demonstrates that this characterization must be modified in the light of her findings. Bartlett identifies the inner-outer court dichotomy--often studied in earlier dynasties but never before in the Ch'ing--as the key framework for understanding Grand Council development. She conclusively shows how the council arose from the Yung-cheng Emperor's attempt to enhance his own power by establishing several small subordinate (and not at all grand) inner-court staffs to bypass the outer-court bureaucracy. A single centralizing and managing body worthy of the title "grand" came into being only after Yung-cheng's death. As a result of the council's first century of growth, imperial power was subtly undermined even though it continued in force. Bartlett argues that it was the council's consolidated power as much as the strength of the monarchy that enabled the Ch'ing dynasty to achieve greatness in its middle years--defeating the Mongols and enlarging its territories--and at the end prolonged its life in spite of foreign incursions, internal rebellions, and infant emperors. The Grand Council is the only high privy council of inperial China for which substantial documentation survives. For this book Bartlett traveled to both Taipei and Beijing to consult the newly available archival sources in both Chinese and Manchu necessary for her research. Her feat of archival reconstruction is a tremendous service to the entire field. Her findings on the Grand Council's patterns of growth, particularly such factors as inner-court informality and secrecy, the far-flung eighteenth-century military campaigns, the tripling of paperwork, and the manipulation of communications, will be useful to scholars studying similar phenomena in other periods and contexts, as Bartlett suggests in connection with the rise of the Ming grand secretaries. Monarchs and Ministersoffers a lively and fresh account of eighteenth-century Chinese political history that will engage the general reader as well as China specialists in many fields.

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