Kinship and government in Chu during the Spring and Autumn era, 722-453 B.C

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Kinship and government in Chu during the Spring and Autumn era, 722-453 B.C

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Title: Kinship and government in Chu during the Spring and Autumn era, 722-453 B.C
Author: Thatcher, Melvin P
Abstract: In this dissertation I explore the structure of kinship among the ruling elite, factors affecting the development of lineages and their ability to participate in the political process, and the structure and operation of the state government of Chu. In Chapter 1 the ethnic origin of the ruling house is traced to the Hua Xia people of the Central Plains. Chapter 2 demonstrates that the dominant mode of succession to the rulership was father to son as it was in the states of the Central Plains. I address the question of the nature of kinship in Chu in Chapter 3 and conclude that the ruling elite were organized into lineages that were fundamentally the same in structure and development as in the states of the Central Plains. Chapter 4 deals with the formation of royal and non-royal lineages and the ability of the king to dispense and control access to economic resources that were necessary for the growth and development of politically effective lineages. Chapter 5 details the political institutions through which the king governed, namely the central and local government and the royal household staff. Particular attention is given to structural dynamics in the central government and issues involved in classifying certain offices as royal household staff. The operation of Chu government is considered in Chapter 6. I show that governing was the enterprise of the king, other members of the royal house, and their agnates of royal lineage. The mature king was ever-present in the day to day operation of government. He appointed and promoted officials, dominated decision making, and dispensed rewards and punishments. Royal agnates were eligible by birth to serve in the government, but they were not selected as representatives of their lineages. With one exception, Chu lineages did not have the hereditary right of appointment to high office. The personal style of the king's rule is manifest in the competition between officials for influence, his ability to use royal household staff as an alternative to government officialdom, and in the ad hoc assignment of duties to officers. The kings of Chu reigned and ruled.
Description: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Washington, 2004

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