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I. Pénaliser l'espace – Penalizing Space

Military Operations, Law and Late Imperial Space: The Spread of Militarized Adjudication

Opérations militaires, droit et espace dans l’empire tardif : l’essor des procédures judiciaires militarisées
E. John Gregory
p. 59-78


This paper describes the late imperial militarized mode of adjudication (yi junfa congshi) and its relationship to eighteenth-century cases of summarized execution under the imperial standard (gongqing wangming). It shows that during the Ming and Qing, militarized adjudications, which were essentially summary in nature, occurred along a spatial-temporal gradient of military operations which was a function of proximity to and intensity of active military operations. The paper also demonstrates that prior to the eighteenth century, militarized adjudication was a different mode of adjudication from the routine adjudicative system (zhuanshen, heshen, qingzhi) associated with the Qing Code (DaQing lüli). When norm-violating behavior occurred closest to the battlefield at the time of battle, it was more likely that the offender would be summarily adjudicated under modal junfa. This relationship changed over time. Imperial standard executions (gongqing wangming jixing zhengfa), primarily an eighteenth-century phenomenon, developed out of the practice of militarized adjudications. The paper relies on writings of Wang Yangming, and criminal cases to delineate the two different paradigms of modal junfa and the routine adjudicative process. It demonstrates the change in time in the relationship between militarized adjudication, routine adjudication, and the military operations gradient.39-58

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Spatial Influence on the Development of Militarized Adjudication
The Association of the Frontier with Militarized Adjudication
Expanding Imperial Space, the Imperial Standard, and the Imperial Will

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The scholarly community has written extensively on how criminal cases were adjudicated during the late Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) dynasties. By the mid-Qing, the system consisted of multiple levels of hierarchical retrial-review up to the central government and mandatory review and approval by the emperor of certain cases, including most cases involving death sentences. This routine adjudicative process was a deliberate and time-consuming process that was usually the norm for criminal cases that were adjudicated within the inner empire (neidi) during times of peace. At the same time, scholars have long recognized that the Qing sometimes applied different law to different peoples across its multi-ethnic empire. What this scholarship on the sophistication of Qing criminal process and application of diverse Qing law has missed, however, is that there also existed throughout the Ming and Qing eras a far more simplified form of criminal adjudication that was also applied large...

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Electronic reference

E. John Gregory, « Military Operations, Law and Late Imperial Space: The Spread of Militarized Adjudication », Extrême-Orient Extrême-Occident [Online], 40 | 2016, Online since 21 November 2018, connection on 24 February 2018. URL :

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About the author

E. John Gregory

Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army. Academy Professor, Instructor of Chinese, and Director of the Center for Languages, Cultures, and Regional Studies (CLCRS), United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. PhD, Late Imperial Chinese History, Georgetown University (2015) ; LLM, Military and International Law, The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School (2010) ; JD, University of Florida (2001) ; BS, Chinese and French, United States Military Academy (1995). Fulbright Fellow and Visiting Scholar, Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan (2013-2014). Lieutenant Colonel Gregory has served as the primary advisor on numerous US-China exchanges and military-to-military events. He has also published articles and given presentations on the topics of law and Chinese history. His research interests include both classical and modern legal discourse, legal culture, and rule of law.
Lieutenant colonel, armée des États-Unis d’Amérique. Professeur (Academy professor), instructeur de chinois et directeur du Center for Languages, Cultures, and Regional Studies (CLCRS) de l’United States Military Academy, à West Point, New York. Docteur en histoire de la Chine impérial tardive de l’Université Georgetown (2015) ; Master en droit militaire et international à The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School (2010) ; JD (Juris Doctor) de l’Université de Floride (2001) ; diplomé de chinois et de français à l’United States Military Academy (1995). Récipiendaire de la bourse Fulbright et chercheur invité à l’Institut d’histoire et de philologie de l’Academia Sinica à Taiwan (2013-2014). Le lieutenant colonel Gregory a été conseiller principal de nombreux échanges sino-américains et d’événements militaires. Il a aussi publié des articles et donné des communications sur les thèmes du droit et de l’histoire chinoise. Ses recherches portent sur le discours juridique classique et contemporain, la culture juridique et l’État de droit.

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