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Dissertation

Political legitimacy in Chinese history : the case of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-535)

Liu Puning defended his thesis on 25 April 2018.

Author
Liu, Puning
Date
25 April 2018
Links
Leiden Repository

The Northern Wei Dynasty 北 魏 (386-535), founded by a non-Chinese ethnic group, competed with a series of Chinese ruling houses, collectively referred to as the Southern Dynasties 南朝 (420-589), in being perceived as the legitimate rulers of China. Scholars throughout Chinese history weighed in on the question of which side should be considered legitimate: the Northern Wei, the Southern Dynasties, neither, or both? This dissertation analyzes political legitimacy in Chinese history, with the Northern Wei as a case study. First it provides a historical background of the legitimacy dispute (chapter 1). It continues to analyze the various legitimation practices adopted by the Northern Wei and the Southern Dynasties (chapter 2). The dissertation then continues by studying, in chronological order, fourteen premodern Chinese scholars’ views on the legitimacy of the Northern Wei and the Southern Dynasties (chapter 3, 4, and 5). With reference to the legitimacy dispute between the Northern Wei and the Southern Dynasties, this dissertation not only investigates practical criteria of legitimacy, which can be classified as cosmological, moral, historical, ethnic, and geographical, but also describes the evolution and disintegration of traditional Chinese views of legitimacy (chapter 6).

Supervisors: Prof. dr. H.G.D.G. De Weerdt and dr. P. van Els