Differences between Bureaucrats and Aristocrats in

This essay has a total of 1180 words and 5 pages.

Differences between Bureaucrats and Aristocrats in Government


Bureaucrats and aristocrats, the former evident in the government in the Tang dynasty
(617-907) and the ladder pronoun in the government of Heian Japan. Both are different in
many different aspects, such as within government, government structure, law, economy, and
society.


A bureaucrat can be defined by the following: an appointed government official with
certain duties and responsibilities defined by disposition in the bureaucracy. A
bureaucrat is more dependent on the government than an aristocrat because official power
comes from official appointment through the bureaucracy (Class Lecture, Oct. 16, 97).
Bureaucracy first replaced aristocracy in the Tang dynasty, under the rule of Empress Wu
(625?-706?, r.690-706) bureaucracy was expanded by furthering expansion policies and
supporting the examination system. Positions in government were filled through the
examination system, and people who passed were called the literati. When one held this
title of literati, you were considered intelligent and were considered to have high status
(TA session, Oct. 28, 97). "They were a group of smart guys with a good education."
(Steve, TA session, Oct. 28, 97). This of course deprived the hereditary aristocracy of
power 'they had enjoyed during the period of division, when appointments had been made by
recommendation, and opened government service to a somewhat wider class of people...'
(Schirokauer, p.103). For the first time, men who entered office through examination could
attain the highest office, even that of Chief Minister. Examination graduates earned (earn
being the operative word) prestige, and even though officials still entered government by
other means such as family connections, at the same time the literati and thus the
bureaucrats were gaining authority, jurisdiction, and power. And thus, one could see this
shifting of supremacy from the aristocracy to the bureaucracy.


Government in the Tang dynasty was regulated by the Tang legal codes, a system of laws
written by legalists which consisted of a system of rewards and severe punishments (TA
session, Oct. 28, 97). These legal codes were administrative: reporting what the state
could do and what the subjects could not do. This is an important point in that, this
showed the subjects possessed little power, the Tang legal codes are the opposite of any
laws of present day, these legal codes protected the government and not the people.
Government needed the subjects only to provide for taxes (revenue), labour (grain) and
military (soldiers) reasons. 'A dead subject was not as useful as a living subject.'
(Steve, TA session, Oct. 28, 97) The fundamental tasks of the central government were
accomplished by Six Ministries; personnel, revenue, rites, war, justice, and public works
(Class Lecture, Oct. 16, 97). In addition to these ministries, there was a censorate or in
other words, an Inspector General who was in charge of internal affairs, making sure there
was no corruption in the government. All this thus showed the power of the bureaucratic
government.

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