The Censorate was a high-level supervisory agency in ancient China, first established during the Qin dynasty (221–207 BC).

Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Literal meaningTerrace of Imperial Scribes/historians
Ming, Qing
Literal meaningMetropolitan Examination Court
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese alphabetĐô sát viện
Chữ Hán都察院

The Censorate was a highly effective agency during the Mongol Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). During the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), the Censorate was a branch of the centralized bureaucracy, paralleling the Six Ministries and the five Chief Military Commissions, and was directly responsible to the emperor.[1] The investigating censors were "the eyes and ears" of the emperor and checked administrators at each level to prevent corruption and malfeasance, a common feature of that period. Popular stories told of righteous censors revealing corruption as well as censors who accepted bribes. Generally speaking, they were feared and disliked, and had to move around constantly to perform their duties.

Internal structureEdit

The Censorate was divided into three branches ().

  • The Palace Branch (殿院) was responsible for monitoring the behavior of officials during audiences. It was staffed by in-palace enquiry censors (殿中侍御史).
  • The Admonishment Branch (台院) was responsible for monitoring the behavior of the emperor, to ensure that he did not make mistakes and remind him of his duties. It was staffed by enquiry censors (侍御史).
  • The Detection Branch (察院) was responsible for monitoring the behavior of local officials. Monitor censors (監察御史) would tour the country in circuits to ensure the proper discharge of the functions of government and good performance of local officials.


During the Nguyễn dynasty a representative from the censorate served as a member of a government commission formed to create inscriptions for the 1 mạch cash coins.[2]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Hucker (1958), p. 49
  2. ^ François Thierry de Crussol (蒂埃里) (2011). "The Confucian Message on Vietnamese Coins, A closer look at the Nguyễn dynasty's large coins with moral maxims », Numismatic Chronicle, 2011, pp. 367-406". Academia.edu. Retrieved August 22, 2019.