Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

Many years ago, Philip Kuhn, the eminent historian of late imperial China, gave a lecture in which he quoted the testimony of a monk who had been accused of a horrendous crime—demonically stealing a young boy’s life energy after snipping off the boy’s queue...

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Translator’s Notes

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pp. xiii-xvii

In recasting these documents into English, there has necessarily been what some literary critics term “slippage,” ideas and expressions that do not convert easily from one language into another and either lose (or gain) meaning in translation. I have relied on the standard...

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Introduction

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pp. 3-27

When one first begins to study China, the great length of its history, to say nothing of its geographic and human diversity, seems overwhelming. One may know the dates of major dynasties and the names of physical features...

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Part I: Judicial Procedures

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pp. 29-78

Although these cases range from the result of happenstance to deliberate premeditated crimes, the reports in this section are not complicated; they are conventionally straightforward descriptions of acts in which the actors and their motivations...

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Case 1: Xu Si: A Scuffle over a Debt ( Jiangsu, 1702)

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pp. 30-36

Your subject Song Luo, Grain Intendant, Provincial Commander in Chief of Military Affairs, Governor of Jiangning and Other Areas, Vice President of the Censorate, Third Additional Grade, 2 respectfully submits this MEMORIAL concerning a capital murder case: The detailed memorandum submitted by Commissioner Tong Yuxiu of the Jiangsu Provincial Judicial Commission...

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Case 2: Li Huaiyu: The Missing Brother (Hunan, 1736)

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pp. 37-52

Board of Punishments . . . , and Prince of the Blood of the First Degree, Your subject Yunli respectfully submits this MEMORIAL concerning the report of a fratricide and its investigation. The Board of Punishments’ Office of Scrutiny forwards a report from...

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Case 3: Ms. Guo: Accidental Homicide Concealed (Zhili, 1795)

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pp. 52-58

The preceding officials of the Board of Punishments’ Office of Scrutiny respectfully copy here the case forwarded by Liang Kentang, the governor-general of Zhili, based on the memorial of the judicial commissioner, Suonuomu Zhamuchu, concerning...

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Case 4: Li Cang: Blackmail and Arsenic (Shanxi, 1803)

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pp. 59-64

Your subject Dong Gao [here follows a long list of titles] respectfully humbly submits this MEMORIAL to explain a case. The Board of Punishments has copied out a case submitted by Bolin, Governor of Shanxi, concerning a past event: According to the report submitted...

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Case 5: Cao Ligong: Attempted Rape That Led to Murder (Zhili, 1803)

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pp. 64-78

. . . Secretary of the Board of Punishments, Your subject Yan Jian respectfully submits this MEMORIAL to report a matter. Qing Zhang, the judicial commissioner of the Zhili Provincial Judicial Commission, reports on the submission of Yao Liang, Prefect of Hejian, concerning...

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Part II: Interrogation Techniques

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pp. 79-102

Although clever interrogation formed a central part of the highly romanticized contemporaneous fiction about crime and detection, these case reports represent working magistrates as taking their investigative duties very seriously...

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Case 6: Du Huailiang: Adultery That Brought Disaster (Shandong, 1696)

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pp. 79-90

[Magistrate Jin initially interrogated Du Huailiang as follows:] “How old are you, and what is your native place?” Du Huailiang testified: “Your humble servant is twenty-six sui, and I am from this...

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Case 7: Rui Meisheng: Manslaughter over an Outhouse (Anhui, 1722)

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pp. 90-96

The detailed memorandum submitted by Judicial Commissioner Zhu Zuoding of the Anhui Judicial Commission states that he had examined a certain individual named Rui Meisheng, twenty-nine sui in age, of middling height, with pockmarked face...

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Case 8: Jia Mingyuan: Accidental Homicide (Fengtian, 1796)

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pp. 96-102

On Qianlong 60.6.25 [August 9, 1795], local warden Sun Rong submitted a report, saying “On 6.23 [August 7], Yu Dehai, a laborer hired by the family of Song Shichen, had come to his home to report that toward evening on 6.22, after it had rained, because...

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Part III: Intent and Premeditated Violence

In the cases presented in this section, magistrates probe their deponents’ testimony for the reasons behind the violence. The inept kidnappers in case 9 are clearly guilty, but the testimony as recorded here seems to open further questions about the relationship...

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Case 9: Luo Zhongyi: Kidnapping (Guangdong, 1728)

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pp. 103-116

Your subject Deming, Grand Minister of the Deliberative Council, Minister of the Board of Punishments, and so on, Augmented One Degree, Recipient of Seven Citations, respectfully submits this MEMORIAL concerning the kidnapping and murder of a male. The Board of Punishments’ Office of Scrutiny copies herein a report from...

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Case 10: Wang Azhen: Murder for Extortion (Guangdong, 1779)

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pp. 116-121

...On Qianlong 43.5.13 [ June 7, 1778], a petition was filed by Gao Lai, a jiansheng, stating that when he arose and opened his door early on the morning of the twelfth of the fifth month of the current year, he discovered a dead body lying on the ground outside...

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Part IV: The Failure of "Confucian" Family Values

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pp. 122-146

During the eighteenth century, what is generally termed “Confucianism” was a diverse range of values understood and practiced quite differently by people at various social levels and of diverse ethnic or regional backgrounds. Highly educated...

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Case 11: Li Er and Li San: Two Pecks of Beans (Fengtian, 1738)

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pp. 123-128

The testimony of Ms. Bo: “The deceased Li Er was my husband. This year, he was thirty-five sui in age. Li San is my husband’s own brother. On the fifth of the ninth month of this year [September 28, 1737], we divided households to live separately, but there were...

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Case 12: The Hong Brothers: A Quarrel over Manure (Hunan, 1738)

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pp. 128-133

The detailed memorandum submitted by Judicial Commissioner Yan Ruilong of the Hunan Judicial Commission detached to the prefectural city of Changsha states that he had examined a certain individual named Hong Yaozhang, thirty...

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Case 13: Ms. Wang: Incest and Violent Homicide (Jilin, 1738)

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pp. 133-142

Secretary of the Board of Punishments [and other titles], Your subject Yijishan respectfully submits this MEMORIAL on the case of a woman murdering her own husband forwarded by the general of Ninguta, Jidang’a, and others on Qianlong 2.12.18 [February 6, 1738]. His memorandum...

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Case 14: Ms. Ma: Disguised Poisoning (Shandong, 1795)

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pp. 142-146

Your subject Agui [here follows a long list of titles in very small characters] respectfully submits this MEMORIAL to clarify a matter. Jiang Lan, former recording secretary for the governor of Shandong now serving as judicial commissioner, records a matter according to the memorandum...

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Part V: Control of Politically Marginal Groups and Individuals

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pp. 147-204

The Manchus established the Qing empire by the same means that all their Chinese predecessors had used, military conquest. Fighting continued sporadically for decades, first with local rebels and the armed remnants supporting Ming pretenders...

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Case 15: A Village Vendetta and Han Intercession (Guangxi, 1728)

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pp. 148-175

Your subject Deming, Grand Minister of the Deliberative Council, Minister of the Board of Punishments and other offices, with Additional Second Rank, Six Times Lauded, and so on, respectfully submits this MEMORIAL of explanation. The Board of Punishments’ Office of Scrutiny hereby copies a case...

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Case 16: Rebellious Religious Sectarians (North China, 1791–1814)

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pp. 175-201

“I am thirty-seven sui in age, and I am from Pingxin Market in Weinan District. My father Liu Xuefang passed away long ago. My mother, Ms. Zu, was remarried to a man named Yang. My older brother Liu Zhaogui left home to beg; I haven’t seen him...

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Case 17:

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pp. 201-204

Testimony of Ji Yanghua (also known as Ji Xuezhu): “I am a native of Yue Village of Yongle Market, Yongji District, in Puzhou Prefecture of Shanxi. I am forty-seven sui in age, and my parents have passed away. Of the four brothers in my family...

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Part VI: Social Mobility and Crime

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pp. 205-225

Widespread economic and demographic changes during the Qing period produced a fairly large number of dislocated people who often traveled long distances to find work. Several are featured in part V. The two cases in this section...

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Case 18: Jin San: A Spurned Lover (Sichuan, 1728)

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pp. 205-218

Your subject Xiande, Provincial Governor of Sichuan, Territorial Military Superintendent, and Right Assistant Censor-in-Chief of the Censorate, and other offices, respectfully submits this MEMORIAL to report on a matter: Hereafter, the report submitted by You Qing, acting assistant judicial...

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Case 19: Luo Fenpeng: A Phony Scholar-Official ( Jiangxi, 1763)

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pp. 218-225

“I am from Luling District in Ji’an Prefecture. I was originally surnamed Luo, and my name is Fenpeng; Li Rongzong is an assumed name. This year, I am thirty-eight sui old. My father is Luo Junzheng, and my younger brother is Luo Yunpeng...

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Part VII: Imperial Intervention

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pp. 226-243

For cases involving “normal” acts of violence, the tragedies recorded in the routine memorials that recorded investigative reporting by magistrates at the local level and by their superiors further up the chain of judicial review, the emperor might...

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Case 20: Li Yuchang: A Magistrate Murdered for His Integrity (Jiangsu, 1809)

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pp. 226-243

Your subject, Grand Councilor Tie [Bao], Governor-general of the provinces of Liang Jiang, on Jiaqing 14.6.21 [August 2, 1809], having respectfully received YOUR HIGHNESS’S INSTRUCTION concerning the unclear matter of the death of Li Yuchang: At this time, when Shandong deputed...

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Appendix 1: Banners and Other Social Organizations

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pp. 245-246

Even before the Manchus began their incursions into northern China, their primary social organization was composed of military units termed “banners”; each of the Eight Banners (Baqi) carried a distinctive flag. Apparently by around...

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Appendix 2: Popular Religious Movements

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pp. 247-251

Probably the most detailed study of popular uprisings in China focuses on an earlier period, the Ming (1368–1644). Through a painstaking statistical analysis of all instances of banditry and rebellion in all of China’s 1,097 counties, historian...

Appendix 3: Cases Listed by Social Conflict

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pp. 252-253

Chinese Character Glossary

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pp. 255-269

Bibliography of Studies in English

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pp. 271-277

Index

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pp. 279-285

Further Reading, Back Cover

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