David M Robinson
Release Date: 01 December 2001
On a spring afternoon in 1509 a local bandit found himself in the emperor's private quarters deep within the Forbidden City and in the presence of the Son of Heaven himself. This bizarre meeting was the doing of the eunuch Zhang Zhong, the emperor's personal servant and companion. To understand how this extraordinary meeting came about requires a consideration of the economy of violence during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Here, for the first time in any language, is a detailed look at the role of illicit violence during the Ming.
Drawing on court annals, imperial law codes, administrative regulations, private writings, and local gazetteers, David Robinson recreates in vivid detail a world where heavily armed highwaymen and bandits raided the boulevards in and around the Ming capital, Beijing. From the emperor and his high court ministers in the Forbidden City to the merchants and commoners on the street, everyone confronted this volatile economy of violence.
Bandits, Eunuchs, and the Son of Heaven reveals how illicit armed violence formed a critical, and until now largely unexplored, facet of late-imperial Chinese history. It offers important new insights into the nature of the late-imperial state, the structure of emperorship, the role of the military, and the place of force in everyday life in early-modern China.
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