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Tư tưởng trọng dụng nhân tài thời lê sơ (1428 1527) tt



THỜI LÊ SƠ (1428 - 1527)

Mã số: 9229001


Hà Nội, năm 2018

Công trình được hoàn thành tại

Người hướng dẫn khoa học: PGS.TS. Nguyễn Tài Đông

Phản biện 1: PGS. TS. Nguyễn Thế Kiệt
Phản biện 2: PGS. TS. Trần Nguyên Việt
Phản biện 3: PGS.TS. Hồ Trọng Hoài
Luận án sẽ được bảo vệ trước Hội đồng chấm luận án cấp Học viện
họp tại, Học viện Khoa học xã hội 477 Nguyễn Trãi, Thanh Xuân,
Hà Nội
vào hồi….….. giờ……ngày…… tháng……. năm 2018

Có thể tìm hiểu luận án tại:
- Thư viện quốc gia
- Thư viện Khoa học xã hội


1. The urgency of the subject
We are not undertaking research on history because of history itself, we do
research on history in order to build the present and lay the foundation for the future.
Nowadays, on the grounds of the remarkable progress of the scientific and
technological revolution along with globalization, human resources quality is
becoming the key factor in the development of each country. Vietnam, which is an
emerging nation, wants leapfrog further into the future with this development and not
to be left behind in this age. Therefore, it if of the paramount importance that we have
to follow this trend of development. Recognizing the requirements of the new age, the
12th Congress of Communist Party of Vietnam has continued to affirm the opinion:
Developing high quality human resources, attracting and training talented people is
one of the strategic steps for the rapid and sustainable development of the country. The
above-mentioned reality accompanied with the undertakings of the Party is the basis
for the management level to impose policy on recognizing merit. However, each and
every scientific policy, including polices on human resources and talents, finds no way
to come into life without the process of gaining experiences from several perspectives,
and the experience from the ancients is vitally significant.
Looking back the history of thousands of years of building and protecting the
country, our nation have created a multi-story civilization, in which there have been
always a plethora of the talented working in different fields. The masses made the
history, but it is the individuals and talents that facilitate changes and help the history
flourish. In recognition of the decisive role which talents play, feudal dynasties in the
history of Vietnam established and ceaselessly upheld the tradition of meritocracy.
In the feudal history of Vietnam, the Early Le dynasty is considered as a period

of particular characteristics. This was the period when our country gained national
independence from the struggle against the invasion of the Minh dynasty of China,
and the Early Le dynasty was established afterwards. It has been proved through
history that Early Le Dynasty, in which the team of talented individuals who were
recruited and trained played a key role, did succeed in building a peaceful society and
a thriving country, marking the most prosperous period in the feudal history of
Vietnam. Nevertheless, in the course of the following years, the thought of meritocracy
was not adjusted to better fit in the new situation; in fact, that thought of meritocracy


was neglected. That was one of the reasons why the Early Le dynasty got into in crisis
and in the end collapsed in 1527. Considering that, it is of pivotal importance that the
thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty should be studied meticulously and
valuable lessons for the recognizing merits should be drawn subsequently.
Presently, the innovation of the country requires a large number of talents in
multiple fields. Therefore, the systematic research and study into the thought of
meritocracy in history provides a stepping stone, helping to draw important lessons
which act as a foundation in maintaining of quintessence of the traditional meritocracy.
From that perspective, the researcher selected the topic about "The thought of
meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty (1428-1527)" with the hope of contributing a
small part to this great endeavor.
2. Purposes and research tasks of the dissertation
Purpose of the dissertation: To clarify the fundamental contents, values and
limitations of the meritocratic thought in the Early Le dynasty; thence draw the
historical lessons of the meritocratic thought in the Early Le dynasty with Vietnam
To accomplish the above purpose, the dissertation defines the basic tasks as
- Overview of research results on the thought of meritocracy in the Early Le
- To introduce the economic, socio-political and cultural conditions together
with theoretical premise of the meritocratic thought in the Early Le dynasty.
- Analyze the basic contents of the meritocratic thought in the Early Le dynasty.
- Analyze the values and limitations of the meritocratic thought in the Early Le
dynasty. Based on that analysis, it draws some of the historical lessons of this thought
to apply in contemporary society in Vietnam.
3. Objects and Research scope of the dissertation
Research objects: The contents of the meritocratic thought in the Early Le
Research scope: the thought of meritocracy of the Early Le dynasty in Vietnam
was mainly shown in the texts (literary, history, Criminal law, biography, et cetera)
which have been translated into Vietnamese.
4. Research methods of the dissertation


The dissertation uses the main methods which are analyzing the documents,
comparative method, synthesis method, logical-historical method, historical-specific
method, abstracting method and generalization, inductive methods, interpretive
method, et cetera.
5. New contributions to the science of the dissertation
- The dissertation shows and analyzes the fundamental factors which have an
impact on the thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty.
- The dissertation analyzes and systematizes the basic ideas of the meritocratic
thought in the Early Le dynasty, including: the concept of talents and the inevitability
of the meritocratic thought, the concept of training talents, the concept of recruiting
talents, the concept of using talents, the concept of treating talents and some
requirements for meritocratic subjects.
- The dissertation confirms the values and limitations of the meritocratic thought
in the Early Le dynasty. Based on that analysis, it draws some of the historical lessons
from this thought to apply in contemporary society in Vietnam.
6. Theoretical and practical meanings of the dissertation
In theory, the dissertation has contributed a more systematic approach into the
study of the thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty. The research results of
the dissertation form the bedrock of position and role assessment of the thought of
training, recruiting and using talents in the Early Le dynasty with the development of
this dynasty; Moreover, the dissertation contributes to point out the position and role
of intellectuals in the history of the nation.
In practice, the dissertation can be used as a reference for the authorities in
making policy about meritocracy in Vietnam today.
In addition, the dissertation can be used as a reference for researching, teaching
and learning subjects: History of Vietnamese thought, History of Vietnamese
philosophical thought, History of Vietnamese education, and some other subjects in
the scope of social sciences and humanities.
7. Structure of the thesis
Apart from the Introduction, Conclusion, Appendix, List of scientific works of
the author, List of references, dissertation consists of 4 chapters.


Chapter 1
Overview of research works related directly or indirectly to the topic of the
meritocratic thought in the Early Le dynasty is divided into groups as follows:
1.1. An overview on the factors influencing Early Le dynasty thought on
1.2. An overview on the thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty.
1.3. An overview on the values, limitations, historical lessons of the
meritocratic thought in the Early Le dynasty
A summary of results and directions for further research
From the results of the review, there have been many research works about the
thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty in many different aspects and from
many dimensions. These research works have achieved great results, and so far, this
research problem still show gaps which need further research to resolve. Specifically:
Firstly, the previous research works have discussed about the fundamental
factors influencing the thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty such as the
fifteenth socio-economic, political and cultural context of Vietnam, the thought of
meritocracy of Confucianism and the thought of meritocracy of the Ly-Tran period;
those research work have also studied some different aspects of the meritocratic
thought in the Early Le dynasty; mentioned the thought of meritocracy in feudal
dynasties after the Early Le dynasty plus reality meritocracy in Vietnam today.
Secondly, inheriting the research achievements of the leading researchers,
capturing the remaining gaps around the subject of research, sticking to the object,
purpose, research task, approaching the problem from the vantage point of philosophy,
the author of the thesis aims to deepen and clarify: the context of Vietnamese history
in the 15th century, the thought of meritocracy of Confucianism and the thought of the
meritocracy in the Ly - Tran period as a factor influencing the thought of meritocracy
in the Early Le dynasty. The author analyzed, presented general concepts around
ideological systems of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty, and asserted the value and
limitation of the meritocratic thought in the Early Le dynasty. Based on researching
into the thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty, the author drew the crucial
lessons for the strategy of meritocracy in Vietnam today.


The dissertation clarifies two basic factors: the economic, socio-political and
cultural premise, and the premise of thought.
2.1. The economic, socio - political and cultural conditions
This is the practical premise, the decisive factor which affected the thought
of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty.
2.1.1. Economic background
The economy of Vietnam in the 15th century was the economy of agriculture
- small production village, the management role of the country was featured. This
was typically seen in land allocation in production; the priority and care for
agricultural development; governmental measures to inhibit the development of
craft and commerce on a large scale. The movement of the Vietnamese economy
during this period contributed substantially to form a new class structure in the
2.1.2. The socio-political background
Together with the stabilization of economic and social life, the Early Le
dynasty built and constantly improved its administrative apparatus, government and
mandarin system, with the basic characteristics: centralization, bureaucracy and
Confucianism as the foundation.
The central government of the Early Le dynasty was continuously reinforced
and until the Hong Duc period (1470 - 1497) was completed. Accordingly, the
central government, the king, has the highest authority and was the most
comprehensive. Helping the king to manage the country were Civil and Military
ordering mandarin’s system. Civil ordering mandarin’s system encompassed
ministry of home affairs, departments and professional organizations. Military
ordering mandarin’s system included soldiers which were in the imperial city and
in the region. Administrative apparatus was also organized uniformly from the
Imperial court to the commune. Each administrative apparatus had a structure of
government and mandarins. Mandarins consisted of general management and the
management of each field. These mandarins were overseen by their branch and area


Through the organization of the administrative apparatus and government as
can be seen, the kings of the Early Le dynasty generally wanted to build a strong,
prosperous Dai Viet country, a long-lived dynasty with close centralization. To do
so, the government needed a talent pool which was not only large in number but
also, more importantly, must meet morality and talent needs. On the other hand, the
undertaking of Early Le dynasty did not choose the mandarin mainly based on
kinship relations, but mainly based on talent, morality revealed through the actual
merits and through the examination. Therefore, in order to have enough talent force
for the administrative apparatus and government as above, the Early Le dynasty
was forced to change the policy of meritocracy.
Based on the distinction of economic, political situation, it can be said that
the class structure in Vietnamese society during the Early Le dynasty consisted of
two main classes which are mandarins and people.
Mandarins were the class of political position, considered as the elite of
society. Compared with the people, mandarins enjoyed many political and
economic privileges. At the beginning of the Early Le dynasty, mandarins were
largely military order mandarin. The later Early Le dynasty was top the list of
successful scholars.
People were the largest social forces, divided into many parts: peasants,
craftsman, traders... Each of these groups had different role, position and potential,
but they all had the same thing in common which was wanting to get out of their
political position or changing their current economic position, and the common way
which they adopted was through education or marriage to rise to mandarin class.
2.1.3. Cultural background
Highlights in the situation of culture in the Early Le dynasty was
Confucianism which held prioritized and dominant. The Early Le dynasty, the Le
Thanh Tong dynasty typically, took many measures to make Confucianism become
the mandarin thought of the country and dominate in the spiritual life of the people
such as deeming Confucianism a primitive tool to build the country; monopolizing
Confucianism in education; bringing Confucian thought into the village; promoting
the development of the culture of the people, ignoring the folk culture; controlling
Buddhism, Taoism and orientating the national religious life;....


Under the influence of these measures, under the Ly dynasty, Confucian
thought predominated over all aspects of cultural life - thought. Confucianism also
became the dominant thought of the ruling class, so Confucianism on the whole and
the meritocratic thought of Confucianism in particular had a profound influence on
the meritocratic thought of thinkers and contemporary Vietnamese authorities.
2.2. The previous thought achievement
2.2.1. Meritocracy in Confucianism
Confucian thought of meritocracy has some basic concepts as follows:
The concept of talents and the role of talents in society. The Confucian
representatives said that talent was gentleman which was seen in two aspects:
Firstly, there was a social status; Secondly, the convergence of talents, virtue which
was given in the form of the Five Constants (the Five Virtues of human behavior:
benevolence, righteousness, proprieties, wisdom, and fidelity). The gentleman
expressed these values in all relationships. Of all relationships, it was that to god,
to society and to himself which were of the utmost concern.
The inner sage man played an important part in society. Specifically: Firstly,
when the gentleman, the talent ruled and managed the society, he would help to
bring the society back to a stable state, from the war to the peace; Secondly, the
talent played an vital role in maintaining social order; Thirdly, the talent was the
decisive factor in creating and building an ideal society; Fourthly, the use of talents
was inevitable, hence if the king didn’t know how to use the inner sage man, it
would lead to great consequences, maybe even dehydration.
Thus, Confucianism was consistent that the talent had a central role to play,
which could determine the stability and prosperity of the nation. Therefore,
meritocracy was the platform for building peaceful and harmony society; In
particular, when the talented people were placed in the position of ruling, they
would provide the cornerstone for building a universal and ideal society.
On recruiting talents. Khong Tu laid down the principle of selecting talented
people. That was to examine people's words, and look at their countenances (察言
而觀色), their motives, their aspirations and their attitudes when they performed
the work. In addition, talent assessment must be based on job performance.
On the use of talents, the Confucian delegates said that when they possessed
talented people, the ruler must grant them the opportunity to help the king rule the


country, even gave the governing power of country if the talented person was
On treating talents. According to Confucianism, the ruler needs to implement
specific measures to treat talents both physically and mentally which included
taking care of their lives; operating a fair reward policy; respecting talented people,
expecting inner sage man to help the country.
On educating and training of talents. Confucianism believed that the purpose
of education was to provide knowledge and moral to train the gentleman to
participate in ruling society and to build an ideal society. For that purpose, the
educational content of Confucianism was mainly focused on fostering knowledge,
ethical values, rules of conduct, etc. The Confucian educational method was based
on two principles: setting an example and optional teaching. Confucianism also said
that in order to be successful, in the learning process the learner must always be
confident, active, dedicated, persistent, humble, proactive, progressive, active in
acquiring knowledge and persevering lifelong learning. During this education, the
teacher played a key role. The teacher must step by step use his knowledge to
broaden the scholar’s knowledge, use his righteousness to lead the behavior, make
the learner explore passionately and relentlessly.
On some of the requirements with the subject of meritocracy. In order to merit
many talents, Confucianism suggested that the court, whose center was the king,
must: manage the country based on Confucian virtues, cultivate himself, have
brilliant intellect, choose people mainly through merit; be generous, tolerant,
affectionate when using people, show respect, sincerity, and leave out his ruling
power when treating the talent.
2.2.2. The meritocracy in the Ly - Tran dynasty
The thought of meritocracy in the Ly - Tran dynasty had a direct influence on
the thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty then. Ly - Tran dynasty's the
thought of meritocracy included some basic contents:
The concept of talent and indispensable meritocracy. In the Ly - Tran
dynasty, it could be generally understood that the person considered "talent" must
combine both qualities as "talent" (knowledge, method of thinking, strategy) and
"virtue", besides being noble (patriotism, patriotism, loyalty to the dynasty). These


qualities have to be demonstrated through effectively fulfilling practical
The thinkers in the Ly - Tran dynasty insisted on the necessity of meritocracy
because talent played a decisive role in the prosperous country; Talents played an
important part in maintaining and consolidating the position of the dynasty, both at
war and at peace.
The thought of training talented people has started to be taken care of since
the Ly dynasty, but not until the Tran dynasty did this thought gradually become
methodical, more extended and directional. This was reflected in the practice of
developing the education system (the development of the school system, the birth
of educational institutions, the selection of schools, etc.). Besides, the thought of
training martial arts, the thought of training the successor was also the attention of
the Ly - Tran dynasty at different levels.
The thought of recruiting talents. During the Ly - Tran dynasty, the selection
of talents was conducted by three basic pathways: Confucian examination,
nomination and hereditary transmission of official position (任子). During the Ly
dynasty, nomination overrode Confucian examination, and by the Tran dynasty,
Confucian examination and hereditary transmission of official position held the
equal position in calling for talents. In that objective movement, Confucian
appeared and proved to be increasingly important for recruiting talent.
The thought of using talents. The Ly - Tran dynasty nominated mandarins
based on two basic principles: Based on kinship and the use of talents based on
intellectual capacity and ethics. Accordingly, the use of talents in the Ly dynasty
can be imagined to be quite simple, showing the prior Buddhist knowledge. The
use of talents in the Tran dynasty was based on two pillars: the aristocratic Tran
family and the Confucian feudal intellectual. The thought of using Confucian
talents through the results of the examination was still cautious at first, but getting
increasingly concerned over the time. By the end of the fourteenth century, the
practice of using talents through examination results had become the inevitable
Ideological treatment of talents. In order to generate motivation for talented
people to bring their forte into play and be loyal to the dynasty all the time, Ly -


Tran dynasty’s thinkers held an opinion of treating all talents both economically
and politically.
Treating talents in the political aspect: For those who passed the exam,
although they had not been used yet, the court gave them special honors such as:
calling name ceremony, granted hat, shirt, and banqueted... For talented people who
had been used by the court, they were very protected by law, favored, ordained,
promoted, granted nationality. In addition, after the great victory, the court carried
out a great ordinance for people with merit.
Treatment of talent in the economic aspect in the Ly - Tran dynasty was
carried out in two basic forms: pay salary and pay land.
Some of the requirements for the meritocratic subject. In order to be able to
be meritocracy, thinkers of the Ly dynasty said that the feudal court, whose center
was the king, must: be a virtuous person; a person who understood the principles of
management of country; a person who recruited, used, and treated talents in respect
of the country’s rules.
Summary chapter 2
The thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty was influenced by the key
factors as follows: economic, socio-political and cultural situation of Vietnam in
the 15th century; the thought of Confucian meritocracy and the thought of
meritocracy in the Ly - Tran dynasty. In which, economic, socio-political and
cultural context of Vietnam in the fifteenth century was a practical premise for
forming the thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty. The thought of
Confucian meritocracy had a profound influence, and the thought of meritocracy in
the Ly - Tran dynasty directly influenced the thought of meritocracy in the Early
Le dynasty.


Chapter 3.
3.1. The concept of talents and the inevitability of the meritocratic
3.1.1. The concept of talents
The Early Le dynasty’s thinkers were unanimous in the point: talented people
were the convergence of two qualities that were talent and virtue:
Talent and virtue of a talented person were expressed in the specific criteria.
Firstly, he was a knowledgeable person possessing methods of strategic thinking, a
person of organizational capacity and practical activities, a person of strategic
vision who showed the ability to perceive the laws of motion in nature and society.
Secondly, he was a person who had noble qualities such as: humanity, patriotism,
civilian love, etc. Thirdly, he was a person working effectively when undertaking a
specific task.
Talent and virtue of a talented person were concretized through qualities
which were lenience, intellect, and bravery. Among them lenience was showing
affection towards human beings, especially the suffered laborers; intellect was the
ability to know people, understand people and to devise strategy; bravery meant
daring to accept difficulties, being adventurous, and being persevere.
Talent and virtue of a talented person were exposed in specific relationships,
including relations to nature, to others and to himself. To nature, talented people
were aware and actively acted in accordance with the law; to nation, talented people
were willing to sacrifice for the people and the nation; to ruler and minister, talented
people always acted for benefit of the country; to themselves, talented people were
invariably smug, modest, actively broadened knowledge, and continuously
strengthened morality.
In short, in the Ealy Le dynasty, talented people were understood as people
who possessed both talent and virtue, and under certain circumstances, they made
a comparatively phenomenal success through their deeds, contributing to the
development of the country.
3.1.2. The inevitability of the meritocratic thought


"Meritocracy" was give prominence to the use of human capacity and
qualities. It was expressed through the basic contents which were training talent,
selecting talent; using talent; treating talent and requiring meritocracy’s subject.
Meritocracy from the early times was considered by the Early Le dynasty’s
thinkers as the inevitable work of the ruler. This was because: Firstly, talent played
a particularly important role in the cause of national liberation and stability.
Secondly, talent was the root of building a peaceful, prosperous country. Therefore,
the use of talents was a great contribution to consolidating the dynasty's rule and
developing the country.
3.2. The concept of training talents
3.2.1. The role and purpose of education
The thought of training talented people in the Early Le dynasty was given
based on the fact that the participants were aware of the role of education to the
development of individual and society. To individual, education brought knowledge
and oriented the development of personality. To society, education contributed to
the training of talented people who showed the ideal of dedication. In other words,
training talented people was the lynchpin for the innovation and development of the
Education aimed to develop human personality, creating the ideal stereotype.
Specifically, education centered on training mandarins who assisted the king in
establishing a strong dynasty and a society with hierarchy.
3.2.2. Content, method and role of the teacher in the training of talents
On the content of training talents. The Early Le dynasty’s education was
Confucian education. However, at different times, the specific training content was
emphasized in a distinct way. In Le Loi period, the content of training took virtue
such as filial duty and humanity as a central point. Le Thanh Tong period, on the
other hand, placed an emphasis on filial duty and politeness as a sense of
hierarchical order, a sense of service to the dynasty and the country.
On procedures methods of teaching. The training procedures of the Early Le
dynasty were in the form of teaching, writing and discussing. The main teaching
methods of this period were to give questions and answers, explanation,
memorization and to punish by the rod or cane. In addition, the teaching method of


setting example which meant the teacher showing a shining example was also
About standard and the responsibility of the teacher in training talent. From
the point of view in this period, the teacher played an especially important role in
the development of the student, it was required that the teacher, along with his
wisdom, be the person of unusual moral and dignity. The teacher, on the one hand,
must have mastered the knowledge and ideal of Confucianism, on the other hand,
must have grasped the training requirements of the contemporary court.
3.2.3. The school system
In general, the Early Le dynasty had three types of schools: Quoc Tu Giam in
the capital was directly controlled by the court; public schools were in circuit (道),
government repository (府), district (縣); Private schools were in villages and
communes which were opened by people and Confucian scholars. Quoc Tu Giam
was the highest education organ and the talented training center of the country.
Public schools in government repository or district was paid attention to be
expansion or new construction. In circuit (道), government repository (府) had a
high school. Private schools sprang up everywhere in villages, communes or in
families. The opening of private schools was not tied to the regulations of the
Thus, education and training talent of the Early Le dynasty had made
significant progress. However, education and training Confucian talent in the Early
Le dynasty still lacked of necessary independence. Training martial art talents may
still not conducted orderly with the content which was not clear enough, and that
type of training did not receive strong attention from thinkers yet.
3.3. The concept of recruiting talents
The methods of recruiting talented people in the Early Le dynasty which were
basically discussed were: Confucian examination (科举), The introduction of talent
(引进人才), and The recommendation of talent (保举人才).
3.3.1. Confucian examination
In the Early Le dynasty, Confucian examination was the most important way
to recruit talents. Rulers of the Early Le dynasty had step by step established and
made necessary amendments to the regulations. In this aspect, there were some
points of attention as follows:


The contestant. To participate in the contest, student must show a clean
record, meeting both virtue and talent standard at a certain level.
Exam time. In 1463, the court decided to hold examination of the Huong and
Hoi every three years. If this year Huong examination took place, the next year Hoi
examination would be held. The contestants who passed the Hoi examination would
continue to go in for competing in the Dinh examination to be ranked (甲第登科).
The strict examination process. The Early Le dynasty offered many subjects
(考题) at different exams with different level of difficulty. The marking process
was strictly regulated. The court also set out many laws to prevent and punish
cheating behavior in the examination.
In addition, in order to select a variety of talents, the court also organized the
examinations on an ad hoc basis to look for the talented people. The government
also paid attention to talented martial arts. However, compared with the Confucian
examination, the selection of talented martial arts in the Le dynasty had not really
3.3.2. Introduction and recommendation of talent
Introduction and recommendation of talent were the methods of selecting
additional talents for the examination. The Introduction of talent was mainly used
when the society was in jeopardy, when the new dynasty was established or when
the new king was crowned. Nominees often had to show talent in a certain area and
loyalty to the court. In regard to some regulations of nomination in the Early Le
dynasty, there were two points which must be assured: Firstly, the nominator must
make a painstaking report about the genius, talent and virtue of the nominee;
Secondly, the nominator must be a reputable person and be responsible for his
The method of recommendation of talent must follow the following
procedures: Firstly, when there was a vacancy in a unit, the head of that unit would
introduce suitable people to Ministry of Personnel (吏部); Secondly, Ministry of
Personnel evaluated, if the introduced person was approved, it would be reported to
the King, waiting for the approvement of the King, then would go through the
mandarins to examine again, then the department carefully scrutinized that person
again. Finally Ministry of Personnel made official correspondence to approve for
elected mandarins to work.


In summary, the Early Le dynasty’s thinkers employed a wide range of
methods of talented selection, but those methods were based on two main criteria:
meritorious people with the court and talented and virtuous people based on
Confucian examination. There was a trend that Confucian examination gradually
became predominant and took place of meritorious people with the court over the
3.4. The concept to using talents
Basically, the thought of using talents in the Early Le dynasty was reflected
in the following contents: completing the talented nomination organ; advancing the
process of talented nomination; rule of inspection, rule of change of mandarin’s
position, and rule of avoidance.
3.4.1. The agency was responsible for talented nomination
During the Early Le dynasty, the king held the supreme power of nominating,
transferring and abrogating the positions of mandarins in general and talents in
particular in the whole country. However, under the king there were ministry,
department, and branch (部, 科, 台) helping the king handle this work; they were
Ministry of Personnel (吏部), Office of Scrutiny for Personnel (吏科), Censorate (
3.4.2. The process of nominating and using talents
During the Early Le dynasty, the nomination process was not entirely the
same among those talents groups which were selected differently.
With regard to the selected group based on meritorious people with the court,
the nomination process could be as follows: Firstly, determining the merit, then the
court issued a title which was commensurate with the merit.
With regard to the selected group based on the result of examination,
nomination is according to principle: people who gained a high diploma were
highly promoted and worked at the court. People who gained low diploma worked
in the government repository ( 府 ), district. Those who passed higher were
nominated first.
3.4.3. Rule of transferring mandarin’s position, early retirement and
avoidance with mandarins
Transferring of talents limited the negative impacts which the use of talents
might bring about such as abuse of power, embezzlement, gang formation in the


court, etc. The transference might be from Civil order mandarin to Military order
mandarin or vice versa, from one level of management to another, from one locality
to another.
The regime of early retirement: The mandarins who were less virtuous and
less efficient were often forced to retire early by the court, leaving room for the
more qualified people to take charge.
Avoidance system (回避) in the Early Le dynasty had the following main
contents: Not nominating a mandarin to rule the place where he was born or where
his relative was in leadership position; during the time of management, the
mandarin was not allowed to marry or having concubines that lived in this local.
3.4.4. The regime of supervision, the using examination to inspect ability,
the evaluation of working stage and imperial commissioner
Censors(監察): The Early Le dynasty establishes and directly managed a
supervising organization system. In the court, six departments and Censorate (御史
臺 ) were responsible for supervising six ministries. The system of Censorate
included: Censorate in the imperial court and Censorate in cheng-xuan circuit (道
承宣) which closely inspected and examined the administrative apparatus at all
Using examination ( 考试 ) to inspect ability: The court required that all
mandarins should sit for the periodic exam to be inspected the knowledge and the
ability of practical working.
Evaluating of working stage (考核): The evaluation of working stage was
divided into two stages: a three-year inspection and a nine-year inspection. A threeyear inspection’s stage was made every three years. By the end of the term, the
mandarin, who was in charge of department, must assess the subordinate mandarins
for what had been done in the course of three years based on specific criteria.
Officials which had been through the first 3 years, then 6 years of re-examination,
were passed. The head of the agency commented on a three-year work of the
respondent, and submitted it to the Ministry of Home Affairs for further
In addition, the court set up Imperial envoy system. Periodically or suddenly,
the king and Imperial envoy would go to inspect the rulers in the localities. The


purpose of the imperial commissioner’s regime was to check the management
capacity, the loyalty of mandarins, and to scrutinize the public.
3.5. The concept of treatment of talents
The thinkers of the Ealy Le dynasty followed the thought of treating talents,
among which the socio-political treatment associated with economic treatment was
the most popular.
3.5.1. Treating talent in the socio-political aspect
The class that showed talent (whether used or not used) was granted many
privileges and political - social incentives by the court.
Talented people who was not used but had already passed and ranked at the
top of Confucian examination were allowed to participate in the calling name
ceremony, granted hat, shirt and banquet; they were allowed to return home to pay
respect to ancestors after achieving academic honors, and their names were
engraved on Turtle steles at Temple of Confucius.
Talented people who had been working were treated generously in terms of
politics by the court. The most popular forms of political treatment during this
period were granting position, promoting, granting his family and Mandarins' titles,
granting king’s first name, protecting by law...
3.5.2. Treating talent in the economic aspect
Talented treatment in the Early Le dynasty, basically consisted of two types:
paid salary and divided land.
The salary was given to mandarins according to Mandarins' titles, merit,
whether they were in charge of much or little work, and whether they worked in the
court or among the people. In addition, mandarins themselves did not have to pay
taxes. Some mandarins also enjoyed "paid salary by the people”.
In addition to paid salary, mandarins of the Early Le dynasty were also
granted land based on granted land for senior officials (chế độ lộc điền), granted
land for low officials (chế độ quân điền). They were granted land and allowed to
expand their private field.
Apart from political and economic interests, the Early Le dynasty’s
mandarins also enjoyed a number of other special privileges from the court. In
contrast, the Early Le dynasty also had many measures to punish the smuggling that
might occur in meritocracy with the main forms such as demoting, imprisoning,


asset confiscation, erasing the name from the steles, imposing death penalty to three
last names.
3.6. Some basic requirements for meritocratic subjects
To practice meritocracy, the king needed:
Firstly, to have "advantageous mandarins for the court", the king must set a
shining example as a person of virtue first. This was the backbone for an efficient
meritocratic policy.
Secondly, the king had to use people based on justice, giving priority to virtue.
Thirdly, the king must be humble to look for the talented people, treat the
talented with sincerity from his heart, and even admit the fault when hearing the
right words.
Summary chapter 3
To conclude, the Early Le dynasty’s thinkers agreed on the point: talented
people were both moral and intellectual. These two qualities played an important
role and manifested through their own effective work. Meritocracy was a belief in
talent, morality of talented people, which reflected in: focusing on training talented
people; selecting talented people; entrusting them with a task, evaluating justice and
treating appropriately. In fact, the thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty,
once formed, had a numerous impact on the quality of the talents and was an
essential element that contributed to the vicissitudes of the Early Le dynasty and
simultaneously offered great historical values and lessons.


Chapter 4.
4.1. The values and limitations of the thought of meritocracy in the Early
Le dynasty
4.1.1. Theoretical value of the meritocratic thought in the Early Le dynasty
The thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty had a great value and
meaning. This reflected not only in the fact that Early Le dynasty was a period of
high development in the history of national thought, but also because this thought
created the essential basis for the practical application of meritocracy.
4.1.2. The practical value of the meritocratic thought in the Early Le
In a comprehensive way, the thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty
contributed a great and direct part to the direction of the ruling class in the practice
of building the state machine and recruiting the talented Confucian intellectual who
had the potential to help the king manage society, contributing to the foundation of
a strong centrist monarchy. At the same time, the thought of meritocracy in this
period also had an important role in remarkable accomplishments of Dai Viet in the
second half of the 15th century, from quickly declaring independency, taking
control of the nation, expanding the country to developing the country in all facets.
Thanks to the right policy of meritocracy, Vietnam in the second half of the 15th
century was a civilized country, standing shoulder to shoulder with developed
countries in the region and in the contemporary world, enough to the point of "equal
development" to the Minh dynasty of China in the 15th century.
4.1.3. The inheritance of the meritocratic thought in the Early Le dynasty
in the following dynasties
The thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty were strongly followed
by the successive feudal dynasties of Vietnam. Among that, the Nguyen dynasty in
the early period had a relatively long stable time, so compared with other dynasties,
this was a dynastic which had the condition to represent the most obviously the
inheritance of the meritocratic thought in the Early Le dynasty including thoughts
on training, selecting, using, treating to talents. In fact, the development of the
feudatory history in Vietnam showed that the thought of meritocracy according to


Confucian norms in Vietnam was basically completed in the Early Le dynasty and
had a strong influence on the following dynasties especially the Nguyen dynasty.
This influence made the formation and development of many good traditions of our
nation such as the tradition of “Promoting the worthy” (尚賢), respect for educated
people; studious psychology, overcoming difficulties to conquer knowledge; sense
of " responsibility" of the intellectual class towards the fate of the nation and the
4.1.4. Some limitations of meritocratic thought in the Early Le dynasty
Despite the values, meritocratic thought in the Early Le dynasty had certain
limitations. Specifically:
Firstly, the concept of training talented people in the Early Le dynasty aimed
to provide the force of mandarins for bureaucratic system at all levels. This raised
two issues: First, the content and methods of training tended to give prominence to
hierarchical order, recognized the contemporary political system, constrained the
liberal thinking of learners; Secondly, training did not aim at developing
comprehensive capacity within the human.
Secondly, the concept of recruiting talent. In the Early Le dynasty, the range
of the eligible contestants was still limited. The content of examination centered on
culture and history of ancient Chinese. Form of the contest did not have profound
content. The content and form of examination did not encourage the development
of logical thinking and scientific creativity. Method of nomination could be
exploited to put “people work for them” in the state machine.
Thirdly, at the beginning of the Early Le dynasty, the thought of using talented
people was mostly "uneducated" in solving and deciding important administrative
affairs of the country, which might be an inconsonant policy of the Early Le
Fourthly, the thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty, although on the
one hand expressed the spirit of aspiration of talent and virtue, on the other hand
must be for the interests of the king.
Fifthly, the thought of using talents in the Early Le dynasty was political
meritocracy, with the aim of building the monarchy, concentrating the tyranny. This
led to two consequences: about the human, because of the centralized power, all
things must be decided by the king, leading to overload, while the talents were


mandarins, becoming basic tools to enforce the power of the king; about the state
machine, power must be focused on the central government, causing the power of
the region being dependent. Therefore, this resulted in the rigid management, delay
in running the business and not always yielding productivity.
4.2. The history lessons of meritocratic thought in the Early Le dynasty
From researching meritocratic thought in the Early Le dynasty, we can learn
many useful lessons. Those are:
4.2.1. Countries want to develop, must inevitably use meritocracy
Under the current conditions, there are two things which should be taken into
consideration when applying this lesson: Firstly, the Party, State and scientists need
to set a unified criterion in determining a "talent"; Secondly, there should be more
awareness of the role of talent in the all stages; having meritocratic policy and
mechanisms to ensure that these policies are effectively implemented in practice.
4.2.2. To build and improve talent, education is the top "national policy"
Today, the application of the above lessons requires conditions as follows:
Firstly, development of education and training is the most important task to educate
talent to fully satisfy the requirements; Secondly, it is necessary to create a fair and
unbiased environment for training talented people; Thirdly, training talent should
be performed regularly with appropriate content. In which, moral education is
always deemed one of the basic contents; Fourthly, the flexible methods of training
talents must be employed; Fifthly, enough concerned should be put into building
and improving qualified teacher staff and managers.
4.2.3. It is necessary to develop a diverse, scientific, objective mechanism
for the recruitment talents
Under the contemporary circumstances, the application of the above lessons
needs condition as follows: Firstly, diversifying the recruitment methods is
recommended; Secondly, the recruitment of talent must be basically based on the
capacity and virtue of the candidate; Thirdly, the recruitment of talent should be
objective, flexible in principle.
4.2.4. There should be a scientific approach to using talents, accompanied
with serious inspections and effective anti-corruption
The application of the above lessons requires conditions as follows: Firstly,
the specialized agencies which are responsible for the nomination and using of


talents in the units must have power, be relatively independent, work honestly,
comply with objective andlucid regulations; Secondly, in the process of using
talents, agencies, departments, organizations and units need to follow the principle
"using people with their real ability". Thirdly, when the situation changes, the state
needs to have appropriate matching policies; Fourthly, expand the range of objects
to apply rule of avoidance; Fifthly, it is necessary to ensure the objectivity, strictness
and effectiveness of the inspection and examination of the recruitment and using of
4.2.5. Need to legalize the treatment regime of talents, and the treatment of
talent must ensure the integrity, fairness and encouragement
The application of the above lessons need conditions as follows: Firstly, the
treatment of talents should be legalized; Secondly, the treatment of talents must be
comprehensive, regular, but need specific, flexible division; Thirdly, the treatment
of talents should be done in all facets; Fourthly, the treatment of talents should be
based on fair, objective, proportional and appropriate principles.
4.2.6. At the national level, the political system has an important influence
on the policy and practice of meritocracy
This is a meaningful lesson for today because: Firstly, the state and the head
set the standard for talent, which is the premise to build talent staff; Secondly, the
state and the head are the force that set the rules for managing the quality of
meritocracy within the national scope; Thirdly, in the meritocracy, it is imperative
to allocate proper position to the matching talent so that they can harness their
potentialities to the fullest, devoting for the prosperity of the country and the people.
Summary chapter 4
The thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty has many positive values
and shows certain historical limitations at the same time. However, both these
values and limitations provide valuable lessons for planning the talent development
strategy and the meritocracy for our country’s endeavor to accelerate
industrialization and modernization associated with developing a knowledge
economy and enhancing international integration.


Vietnam is a nation which acquired reputation through the tradition
meritocracy. By the time of Early Le dynasty, the thought of meritocracy had been
developed to become a quite specific, complete and theoretical ideology, meeting
the requirements of the history of Vietnam in the 15th century. This is reflected in
the following aspects:
1. The thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty came into life as an
inevitable law. It stemmed from the historical context of Vietnam in the 15th
century - early 16th century when the country had just scraped through the war of
national defense, stepped into the work of overcoming the consequences of war,
developing the country and asserting sovereignty over all faces; in history,
especially during the Ly - Tran period, a historical lesson about the necessary
meritocracy in the defensing and building of the country was drawn. The thought
of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty was also strongly influenced by
Confucianism - the ideology of social construction which existed in contemporary
Vietnam. In light of those mentioned factors, the thought of meritocracy is formed.
2. On the thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty, according to
delegates in the Early Le dynasty, talents must own two standards: talent and virtue.
These two standards must be seen in highly efficient work process, in harmonious
behavior exposed in the basic relationships, bringing the benefits for the country
and themselves. Talents is key to protecting and building a prosperous society.
Therefore, in every stage of development, the ruling class must inevitably merit
Meritocracy was the belief in human capacities and qualities. The thought of
meritocracy was reflected in the thought of actively training and nurturing talent;
diversifying the recruitment methods; nominating, using of them in appropriate
work, then assessing fairly. In order to practice effectively meritocracy, thinkers
demanded that the king and the ruling class should have certain requirements,
among which the king himself was both a talented person in leadership and a
talented person in management.
3. The thought of meritocracy in the Early Le dynasty was the succession of
the thought of meriting talents in the history of Vietnam which developed in the
new historical scenes. This thought made invaluable contributions to the protection

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