The Tang Code 624, The Tang dynasty

This is the brief story of The Tang Code from the Tang dynasty. The Tang Code had a millennium of direct influence on China

The Tang Code
The Tang Code

China’s history, as one of the world’s oldest civilizations, is traced through a series of dynasties that began nearly 4,000 years ago and concluded in the early twentieth century.

The Tang dynasty (619–906) was one of China’s most important periods in history, with the Tang dynasty (619–906) being credited for cementing China’s long-term political and cultural dominance.The Tang dynasty also produced the Tang Code, which Wallace Johnson, a well-known East Asian historian and one of the first to translate the Tang Code into English, described as “probably the most significant legal document to have arisen in the whole of East Asian history.”

The Tang Code is divided into two portions, each with 502 articles. The first establishes broad criminal law principles, while the second specifies specific offenses and their penalties. One of the Code’s principal goals was to help maintain social order in the face of a perceived decline in morals by deterring improper behavior. Tung Chung-shu, a Han philosopher who saw the human and natural worlds as intertwined, had a significant effect on the Code’s development.

The basic premise of the code is that an offense disrupted society, and that the proper balance might be restored by appropriate punishment or, in some situations, confession and reparation. The Code emphasizes an individual’s standing or position in determining punishment, outlining precise reductions for specific transgressions, but it also acknowledges mitigating circumstances, such as age, gender, and mental and physical condition, as the basis for reduced punishment in appropriate cases.

The Tang Code had a millennium of direct influence on China during at least three succeeding dynasties: the Sung (960–1270), the Yuan (1279–1368), and the Ming (1368–1644)—but its influence is widely acknowledged to have extended to foreign lands, influencing the criminal laws of countries such as Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. “The Code has been the single most impactful piece of legislation to appear in East Asia,” argues Professor Johnson.

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SEE ALSO:

The Draconian Code (621 BCE);

The Laws of Solon (594 BCE);

The Twelve Tables (450 BCE);

The First Law School (c. 250).

Sources:

The Tang Code

The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law (Sterling Milestones) Hardcover – Illustrated, 22 Oct. 2015, English edition by Michael H. Roffer (Autor)

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