Luli ("律令" or "律例," pronounced as "Luli") is a common term for a legal code system seen among the Eastern Asian countries. Lu ("律")corresponds to the penalty codes, while Li ("令"or "例") indicates the codes of law (mainly the administrative law) other than the penalty codes.
The essential concepts of Luli were derived from the ideas of Confucianism and Legalism. The house of Confucian insisted on the ruling of a society with kindness and virtue for its foundation, while the house of law advocated a utilitarian concept, which sought for the establishment and practice of a law system within a society. In ancient China, the precepts of "Li," ("礼,"largely understood as rituals, although it also suggests the ideas of customs, etiquette, morals) "Yueh," ("楽,"classic of music) "Xing" or "Xingfa ("刑"or "刑法," written codes of penalty and punishment) "Fa" ("兵,"military treaties and also military affairs) were established to maintain the nation and public order. The school of Confucian considered Li and Yueh as its principal concepts, while the school of law regarded Xing and Fa highly for its practice. Lu developed as the statutory law of Xing, and Li was its supplemental norm. The importance of Li gradually increased, and it was isolated from Lu to become an administrative law system.
Luli was developed during the Wei-Jin/Southern and Northern Dynasty period, reaching its zenith in Sui Dynasty from the seventh to eighth century, and had an influence on Japan and the kingdoms of Korea (especially Silla) at the time. Chinese dynasties as the center of the development of Luli, the ruling and administrative order based on Luli system was commonly established in each of those Eastern Asian countries. This ruling and administrative order is defined as the Luli System. However, there were some differences in the actual circumstances and practice of the Luli System in each country. The Luli system in each countries collapsed or weakened one after another by the mid eighth to the ninth century.
(Refer to "Luli System" for details)
The system of Luli was provided by the series of written precepts including the principal concepts of Luli, formalities, and social rules. The general concept and the comprehensive system of these precepts are defined as a Luli System. In other words, the Luli System was established upon the effects and circumstances of the Luli Codes, and it is important not to confuse the two, since even if it could be said that they were closely related, they were two different concepts. Even after the collapse or the discontinuation of the Luli as a ruling and administrative system among each of the Eastern Asian countries, the codes of Luli as a law code remained by altering its form and application to some extent, and kept its force as a law.
(Refer to "Luli Code" for details)
The first Luli to be found in history was Qin Shi Luli which was enacted in 268 during the Western Jin Dynasty in China. There were no classifications between Lu and Li in the earlier Chinese legislations, and this was therefore the first establishment of Luli as a system developed on collective codes with clear classification of Lu defining the social standards and norms, and Li prescribing the ruling system. After the downfall of the Western Jin Dynasty, each dynasty in China during the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties proclaimed and enacted Luli of its own.
Yan Jiang who reunited China as the Sui Dynasty, later proclaimed Kaihuang Luli in 581, which was considered to be one of the completed forms of Luli with highly developed and systematized contents. Yang-di who succeeded Emperor Wen, as well as the emperors of the Tang Dynasty that succeeded the Sui Dynasty proclaimed and enacted Luli, which were based on Kaihuang Luli. It is considered in Chinese history that Luli system was at the zenith from the period of Sui Dynasty to the mid Tang Dynasty.
In the course of putting Luli in to practice, there were situations which the Luli codes had not stipulated, and the legal principles of Luli was in alienation from the reality. Therefore, "格" ("Ge") for supplemental or amendment purposes, and "式" ("Shi") for the actual enforcement of Luli and Ge as their bylaws were also developed and enacted. These additionally issued supplement and bylaws were called "格式," ("Geshi") first established as Zhenguan Geshi by the second emperor of Tang Dynasty, Taizong.
Furthermore, movements to establish the Luli System was seen in Japan and Silla around this time by the strong influence of Tang Dynasty.
(Refer to the following section on "Luli of the surrounding nations of China.")
Luli as a ruling and administrative system of a nation, was no longer effective by the end of Tang Dynasty, but a law system referred to as Luli Geshi remained as the essential collective of law codes, and the form of Luli Geshi was succeeded by the dynasties after Tang (Northern Song, Ming, and Qing) as their law enforcement.
Luli of the surrounding nations of China
Luli was also established among the surrounding nations that were influenced by the dynasties of China.
In Japan, the concept of Ritsuryo was actively adopted in order to reinforce and substantiate national power against the threat of the Tang during the late seventh century, and Asuka Kiyomihara Ryo was first established as the pioneer of Ritsuryo. Subsequently, the Ritsuryo saw its completion in the enactment of the Taiho Ritsuryo in 701. However, the Ritsuryo was no longer enacted in Japan after the enactment of Yoro Ritsuryo in 757 (additional and supplemental law code, Santei Ritsuryo and Santei Ryokaku were enacted later, but they were also abrogated soon afterward). Kyakushiki (Japanese pronunciation of Geshi) was usually enacted simultaneously with Luli (Ritsuryo) in the Tang Dynasty, but in Japan, it was enacted separately as Ryo or Shiki after the establishment of Taiho Ritsuryo whenever necessary. The legislation of Kyakushiki was developed over the ninth and the tenth century, and three major Kyakushiki (Sandai Kyakushiki) which were Kounin Kyakushiki, Jyougan Kyakushiki, and Engi Kyakushiki were compiled and edited. However, Kyakushiki was no longer compiled, for the ruling and administrative system based on the Ritsuryo and Kyakushiki reached their limit as it evolved into the ruling system by provincial officials and influential person of each region through large devolution of authority.
Around the mid seventh century in the Korean Peninsula, Silla of the three kingdoms of Korea adopted Luli tentatively during the period when the tensions against Koguryo and Baekje ran high. In the late seventh century, Silla succeeded in unifying the Korean Peninsula and restraining the interference of the Tang Dynasty, and although making reference to the Luli of Tang Dynasty, it constructed its own Luli System. Silla adopted the Tang Luli, and did not enact Lilu that they created from scratch, but by enacting various Ge which had characteristics strong of Silla, it established its own form of government. Kingdom of Goryeo that unified the Korean Peninsula in the 10th century mostly copied from the Tang Luri in order to establish Luli of its own.
Vietnam was under the ruling of Chinese dynasties for a long time, and Chinese Luli was applied as a formality. Ly Dynasty of Vietnam (11th century) achieved independence from Northern Song, and it established its own Luli Geshi. The succeeding Trần Dynasty also enacted its own Luli-oriented law codes. After the Trần Dynasty, there were times when Vietnam was ruled by Chinese dynasties, but the Lê Dynasty achieved independence from China in the 15th century and actively compiled and edited its own Luli Geshi. The succeeding Nguyễn Dynasty also enacted its own Luli in the early 19th century.
Moreover, the neighbouring countries that existed around Tang during the eighth century (ex. Balhae or Tibetan Empire), did not enact Luli that they created from scratch, but positively adapted and altered the Tang Luli to make the Luli System of their own. In addition, the Liao Dynasty (Khitan/Khitai) which was established in 10th century and the Jin (Chin) Dynasty which emerged in 12th century also adopted the Luli System and established their own system.
Qin Shi Luli
The first Luli law code
(Western Jin Dynasty)
(Southern Liang Dynasty)
(Sui Dynasty - Wen)
Sui Dynasty - Yang
Tang Dynasty - Gaozu
Tang Dynast - Taizong
Tang Dynast - Gaozong
Tang Dynast - Wu Zetian
Tang Dynast - Zhongzong
Tang Dynast - Ruizong
Tang Dynast - Xuanzong
Tang Lu Shuyi
An annotated edition of Yonghui Lu.
This is a book of recollected notes from lost reference books edited and compiled by a Japanese scholar of law history, Noboru NIIDA.
Da Ming Lu
(Ming Dynasty - Hongwu)
Great Qing Legal Code
It was assumed to be enacted around 668, but many scholars deny its existence.
Asuka Kiyomihara ryo
It was enacted in 689. The pioneering Ritsuryo law codes for erecting the Ritsuryo System.
It was enacted in 701. The full-scale law codes of Ritsuryo.
It was enacted in 757. This was the revised version of Taiho Ritsuryo.
It was enacted in 791. This was the supplemental codes to Yoro Ritsuryo. It became ineffective (practically abrogated) in 812.
It was enacted in 797. This was the supplemental codes to Yoro Ritsuryo. It was presumed to be abrogated in the early ninth century.
Ly Dynasty of Vietnam
Collective of codes
Ly Dynasty of Vietnam
Ly Dynasty of Vietnam
Court judgement Codes
(Early period of the Lê Dynasty)
Vietnam Imperial Statue
(Period during the Nguyễn Dynasty)
Model cases of Great Southern Vietnam
Mid 19th century
(Period during the Nguyễn Dynasty)