The Censorate (Chinese: 御史台; pinyin: yùshǐtái, later 都察院 dūcháyuàn) was a high-level supervisory agency in ancient China, first established during the Qin dynasty (221207 BCE).

The Censorate was a highly effective agency during the Mongol Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). During the Ming dynasty (13681644), 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 structure

The Censorate was divided into three branches (院).

See also



  1. Hucker, 49.


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