The Ming-Qing Transition (1619-1740): A reassessment from the legal angle

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    This study reassesses the effects of the Ming-Qing Transition (1619-1740) on the original Ming (1368-1644) institutions of local governance, as well as on the course of Chinese socioeconomic development in the light of the evolving text of the Great Qing Code, before its consolidation in 1740, and of the casebooks from the late Ming and early Qing periods. Through a detailed comparison of the Great Ming Code with various early versions of the Great Qing Code from the first century of the Qing rule (1644-1911), this study argues that the Manchu imposed a series of subtle yet striking transformations on the Ming legal foundation to serve their administrative interests and specific intellectual concerns, and, therefore, that the established opinion that the Qing institution adopted its Ming predecessor in its entirety should be seriously reconsidered. Moreover, by investigating the works of documented legal cases from the two epochs in question, the study attempts to identify the socioeconomic changes—if not the disastrous effects—brought about by the establishment of the Qing rule in different regions of China Proper from the perspective of local societies. In addition, because two key posts of the provincial judiciary, namely the Regional Inspector and Prefectural Judge, were both abolished in the 1660s, the study also investigates how the quality of justice at the local level was influenced by the absence of these professional and independent judges from the records of the early Qing courts. Through a deeper understanding of the differences in legal institutions and modes of social control between the late Ming and early Qing regimes, and by building an electronic database from the Historical Geographical Information System (GIS) comprising all available court cases during the Ming-Qing Transition, the study aims to throw light on social and legal studies in traditional China, on concepts for the management of similar institutional changes in contemporary China, and on research into the problems of social control.
    Effective start/end date1/09/1428/02/18


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