In the middle and late Qianlong reign (1736–95), a type of informal administrative fine named “penitence silver” was a prevalent punishment among the upperlevel of Qing bureaucracy. These fines, ordered by the Qianlong emperor, mainly targeted high-ranking provincial officials and officials deputed by Neiwufu (the Imperial Household Department), like governors-general, governors, and salt censors. Based on 110 cases of “penitence silver” fines, I will introduce the origin, evolution, and facts of the fines in the Qianlong period, focusing on who were the major targets, how much money was levied, and how and where the fines were collected and disbursed. I will also analyze the “penitence silver” fines in mid-Qing political, administrative, and financial contexts, discussing why it was possible or necessary for the Qianlong emperor to levy the fines, the relation between the fines and official corruption, the impact of the fines on mid-Qing political process and bureaucracy, and why they were immediately abolished by the Jiaqing emperor after the death of the Qianlong emperor.


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pp. 34-68
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