Lecture 24, Ming Empire, Confusions of Pleasure

Lecture 24, Ming Empire, Confusions of Pleasure - Ming...

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Ming China: The Confusions of Pleasure I. Zhu Yuanzhang’s Vision II. Population Growth Upsets Daoist Vision III. Commercialization of Economy IV. Importance of Silver V. Ming State’s Economic Policies VI. Markets VII. The Center Recedes VIII.Defense Policy, Northern Frontier IX. Jiangnan Region X. Maritime Trade
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Ming founder, Zhu Yuanzhang, Taizu
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Zhu Yuanzhang’s Vision From 1368, until his death 20 years later, Zhu Yuanzhang (Hongwu) attempted to implement his vision of an agrarian order based on the Daoist model of little elite of virtuous elders supervising self-sufficient villages. Elders would forward modest taxes to a minimalist state.
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Zhu Yuanzhang’s Vision Cultivators were tied to their villages; artisans bound to state service, merchants charged w/ moving only such necessities as were lacking, and soldiers posted to the frontier. A small educated elite would be in charge of administration. People themselves would keep a close watch on the small elite.
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Zhu Yuanzhang’s Vision Hongwu’s goal was to immobilize society. People were to stay put; move only with permission of state. Maximum distance could travel by law was 100 li (ca. 58 kilometers) To go farther, needed a certificate. Penalties for going farther: no certificate, 80 strokes; undocumented travel, death.
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Zhu Yuanzhang’s Vision Ming Code sought to block social mobility. Son of artisan was an artisan; soldier’s son, a soldier, etc. Penalties for switching occupations just as severe as those for undocumented physical movement.
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Zhu Yuanzhang’s Vision In order to achieve holding society changeless in place, Hongwu established the lijia system, a comprehensive system for registering the population AND assessing each household for corvee & other services. System worked to extract revenue from population. Worked well as long as it was closely supervised.
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Zhu Yuanzhang’s Vision However, as process of commercialization proceeded, it eroded the system so that it no longer served its original purpose of keeping society in place – unchanging. By 1550, lijia would be little more than a nominal tax registration system.
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POPULATION GROWTH IN MING ERA
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POPULATION GROWTH What lijia system did accomplish was to give the govt a reasonably good census. Official total was 59,873,305, “mouths.” Modern demographers estimate that the figure is too low by between 5 and 15 million. Actual number was at least 65 million and probably closer to 75 million.
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Peace and stability of Ming brought future population growth; population doubled during course of Ming. 1. Estimates range from 100 to 175 million by 1600; 2. 270 by 1750; 3. 345 by 1800. 4. Thus in three centuries population in
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Lecture 24, Ming Empire, Confusions of Pleasure - Ming...

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