SOCIAL CHANGE AND FISCAL REFORM IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY
Author: Wiens, Mi Chu
Source: Ming Studies, Number 26, Fall, 1988 , pp. 18-36(19)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:The founding Ming emperor, Hung-wu, ushered in the political development known as “Ming-Ch'ing despotism.“ Despotic rule in the social and fiscal spheres was manifested in his establishment of an enormous rural control machinery, the li-chia system, a nationwide land and population survey, the elimination of powerful landlords in Kiangnan, and government control of Kiangnan land. The li-chia machinery was based on the concept that in an agrarian society, the constituents in a fixed rural unit were able to perform tax and corvee duties, and that the performance of labor services in person was important not only for fiscal administration but also for local surveillance, rural control, and maintenance of the status quo. In this paper, I shall examine the changes in the land and labor systems from the early Ming to the fifteenth century when imperial control had gradually lost its initial vigor. Fiscal reforms in the fifteenth century began to tackle some inherent problems in the tax system, and the underlying reform principles were applied in subsequent centuries.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1988-01-01