This dissertation examines how the Qing ruling house balanced relations between Manchu and Han and between crown and bureaucracy from the perspective of Qing legal history. I purposely chose to study these questions in Beijing. It was not only the capital but also home to the largest single body of bannermen (Manchus and other ethnic groups under the banner system). Interactions between crown and bureaucracy, on the one hand, and Manchu and Han, on the other, are clearly in focus here.
The research delineates the processes by which the Qing court adopted and revised the Ming juridical system while abandoning its earlier Manchu legal tradition. The early Qing ruler Dorgon tried to impose the Manchu judicial system on the Han people, but he quickly realized the impossibility of the imposition and the necessity of adopting the Ming judicial system. The Qing court gradually recognized the authority of the Qing code (a code based on the Ming code) and even adopted Ming juridical principles on the fundamental issue of Manchu society: the fugitive law that prohibited bannermen, especially slaves, from escaping. Manchus and Han were adjudicated by the Qing code at the same courts in Beijing by the middle Qianlong reign (1736-95). Bannermen's legal privileges were a site of compromise needed to admit the authority of the Han judicial system, and these privileges were actually a sign of Qing sinicization. By analyzing the "normalization" of the law before 1900, or the processes by which the Qing court diminished bannermen's juridical privileges and treated bannermen and civilians more and more "equally," I argue that bannermen's legal privileges were always secondary to sinicization. My study argues against the view that Manchus and Han were judicially segregated and also strongly supports the Sinocentric historiography with new approaches.
The study considers the relationship between the crown and bureaucrats through the lens of the Qing judicial system. It reveals that in Beijing, the judicial system was composed of various institutions that shared responsibilities and power. This research thus demonstrates that at least in Beijing, the Qing judicial structure was not hierarchically and vertically arranged. I argue instead that power was deliberately divided between branches so that no single institution or person ever became too powerful. The structure was so solid that the late Qing monarchy was unwilling to make major reforms even when the system was working poorly.