This talk addresses conflicts between normative values and the practical application of law in China under Mongol rule. In their attempt to rule a multi-ethnic population and peoples of very different legal traditions, the Mongol government of the thirteenth century vacillated between competing visions of the role of law in society and what laws should apply to what people. The regime at times took a laissez-faire approach towards marriage law and allowed the establishment of private, prenuptial contracts, which might contradict Confucian patriarchal values. At other times, under the influence of Neo-Confucian philosophers, it attempted to impose Confucian values on the populace through the adjudication of marriage law at the local level. Similarly, during some periods, emperors allowed different laws to apply to different ethnic groups; but at other times, they tried to unify marriage law for all peoples within Yuan territory. This lack of consensus about the role of law, and instabilities in the laws themselves, may help to explain why the Mongol-Yuan government never promulgated a formal law code.
For further information please contact Judith Scheele at judith.scheele@all‐souls.ox.ac.uk