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By 1500 or so, the principal dynastic capital of the Ming, Beijing, [1] had a population of between 800,000 and one million [2] and oversaw a China that had largely overcome the political, economic, and social dislocations attendant upon both the destructive battles of the dynastic founding of the mid and late fourteenth century and the civil war of 1399--1403. [3] Indeed, stretching some 1,200 miles from the Great Wall in the north to semi-tropical ricelands of the south and over 1,000 miles from the Pacific Ocean in the east to the rugged wind-swept province of Shaanxi to the west, in 1500, the Ming empire was one of the greatest in the world at the time. It was the most populous country by far, with an estimated population of over 155 million at the turn of the sixteenth century [4] (compared with approximately 60 million for all of Europe). [5] Just as China's increasingly vibrant economy was poised for a century-long period of expansion, [6] the cultural realm too was emerging from a fifteenth century "s lump" to embark upon a brilliant florescence in printing, literature, painting, and thought. [7]

Ming government was among the largest and most sophisticated in the world. From his palace in Beijing, the emperor oversaw a bureaucracy of over 20,000 men and a subbureaucracy several hundred times that size. [8] They staffed the central government and the 1,200 or so prefectural, subprefectural, and county seats spread across the empire. [9] Although it may have been devilishly complex and often times inefficient, many European observers of the late sixteenth century described the Chinese bureaucracy with considerable admiration. The Augustianian monk Juan Gonzalez de Mendoza wrote in his very influential 1585 work on China, "this mightie kingdome is one of the best ruled and gouerned of any that is at this time knowen in all the world ..." [10]

For all the apparent power and glory of the Ming, there were, however, serious breaches in domestic security, even in the heart of the empire--the Capital Region. The experience of one lowly clerk is suggestive. By mid-summer 1468, the clerk, Shi Huizong, had just begun the last leg of a nearly thousand-mile journey from his hometown, Fuqing County, in the southeastern coastal province of Fujian to the capital in Beijing. Shi, like hundreds of other clerks and assorted minor functionaries throughout the Ming empire, was making an annual delivery of tax silver and other tribute items. However, misfortune struck when he reached Huoxian, a prosperous entrepot along the Grand Canal less than 25 miles south of the capital. There, armed bandits seized the silver, his luggage, silks, and travel money. Shi's fate was not an isolated incident. Many officials from the southern provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangxi also complained that their residents were similarly robbed in the Capital Region while attempting to deliver taxes and tribute to Beijing. The officials took pains to point out that imperial troops from garrisons around the capital were often among the bandits who preyed upon their clerks. [11]

To students of early modern European history, the fact that such men as Shi could safely transport their cargo over nearly one thousand miles, roughly the distance between Paris and Cracow, may seem striking. Safe passage over such a distance suggests a strong central government with considerable political, economic, and military resources. For those who study China, perhaps it is the site of the robbery that is more surprising. Surely if Shi was to be robbed, it should have been in distant mountainous Fujian with its reputation for quick-tempered and unruly natives, not in the suburbs of the empire's capital.

Indeed, in his pioneering and widely-cited 1991 Disorder under Heaven: Collective Violence in the Ming Dynasty, James Tong concluded that the overwhelming majority of outlaws were concentrated in southern China, far from the imperial capital. [12] Based on a statistical analysis of 131 prefectural gazetteers, Tong in fact discovered only one instance of predatory banditry in the Northern Metropolitan Area during the first half of the dynasty. [13] Tong's findings accord well with several studies that have argued that banditry is largely a phenomenon of the periphery, an activity that flourished in the absence of strong state presence. [14]

Yet, as this article will demonstrate, mounted brigands, equipped with armor, bows, arrows, and swords, blocked roads in and around Beijing and its satellite cities during the mid-Ming. Travellers transporting goods along the Grand Canal, which linked the rich revenue-producing provinces of south China to the capital in Beijing, faced armed robbers, extortionists, and swindlers as they passed through the Capital Region.

As the principal capital of the Ming dynasty, Beijing was at the center of the enormous political, ritual, military, and economic resources associated with the throne. The area around Beijing was one of the most densely governed in China. Thus, on first glance, the Capital Region should have been one of the most orderly in the empire. Further, the period under examination here, the mid-Ming (roughly 1450--1525), was one of relative stability and growing prosperity. The trauma of the dynastic founding and the bloody civil war of the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries were several generations past, while the crises that would eventually topple the dynasty in 1644 were still far in the future.

How are we to explain the rampant banditry in the Capital Region during the middle Ming period? I would argue that it was precisely the very strong imperial presence in its myriad forms radiating outward from Beijing that gave birth to the persistent banditry in the Capital Region. This essay opens with a survey of general patterns and varieties of banditry in the Capital Region. It then analyzes the social, political, economic, military, ethnic, and geographic features that contributed to the area's distinctive forms of violence. The third section considers the range of policies designed to suppress brigandage. The piece concludes with a preliminary comparison with piracy along the Southeastern coast during the mid-sixteenth century to emphasize the importance of regional variation and a more general consideration of the significance of this approach to banditry for our understanding of late imperial Chinese history.

Before progressing any further, a brief discussion of some key terms and important sources is in order. In this essay, I use the terms brigandage and banditry interchangeably and as rough translations of the Chinese terms dao, zei, daozei, xiangma zei, and qiang dao. Both very old words, the two base terms, dao and zei, had accumulated a number of meanings and usages by the Ming dynasty, [15] and without wishing to oversimplify matters, it is perhaps enough for our purposes here to note that banditry in the Ming context was one variety of "robbery by force" punishable by death. [16] This essay generally focuses on mounted bandits, the variety most prevalent in North China.

In addition to local gazetteers, the principal sources used in this study are the Ming shilu [hereafter referred to as the Veritable Records of the Ming Dynasty] and the Huang Ming tiaofa shileizuan [hereafter referred to the Classified Compedium Enumerating the Laws of the August Ming Dynasty]. The Veritable Records were imperially compiled annals with almost daily entries, sometimes multiple entries for each day, comprised of reports from officials in the field and in the capital ministries. They are the single most important set of documents for the study of the Ming period, especially the first half of the dynasty, and the information they contain often informs the private jotting of literati and locally compiled gazetteers. [17]

Available in a two volume, 1,500 page photographic reprint, the Classified Compendium is a fifty-chapter (juan) compilation of regulations and provisions for the implementation of the Ming dynasty's law code the Ming lu [Ming Code]. Most of the cases are from the Chenghua (1465-1497) and Hongzhi (1488-1505) reigns. It is perhaps the single richest source for the social history of late fifteenth century China. [18] Although there does seem to be some bias toward events that occurred in the Northern Metropolitan Area, the compendium includes cases from across the empire, often in surprising detail for the period. We will return to questions of sources and methodology in the concluding section of the paper.

Patterns of Banditry

Throughout the 1450s, there were reports that banditry was a security problem in Beijing and its environs. [19] In a May 1468 edict, the emperor wrote indignantly that:

Recently banditry in and around the capital has become rampant. Openly riding their horses in gangs of several dozen, at night they set fires, brandish [their] weapons, and plunder residents' goods. During the day, [they] intercept the carts of those people who pass by, seizing their donkeys and mules. They even go so far as to take people's lives. Even though there are intendants charged with apprehending bandits, imperial soldiers from the warden's offices of the five wards, and patrolmen, they do not really try to capture the bandits; so that [now] they are totally unrestrained by fear and act outrageously. [20]

The official charged with eradicating these highwaymen complained that foot patrols were unable to pursue the mounted outlaws. He also noted that local authorities knew that many of the brigands were soldiers and that they made only perfunctory attempts to apprehend the outlaws. [21]

One of the most prominent varieties of highwaymen was known as "whistling arrow bandits" (xiangmazei, commonly abbreviated to xiangma), so named for the brigands' practice of attaching bells to their mounts or using whistling arrows when they raided, practices sometimes explained as a way to announce their presence before attacks. [22] A December 1480 report claimed that "whistling arrow bandits" travelled in bands, wore armor, and blocked roads around Beijing. [23] In 1485, mounted bandits were said to have raided in broad daylight in and around the Beijing, [24] as well as in slightly more distant suburbs to the east, west, and south of Beijing. [25] Similar mounted brigands equipped with armor were active in Tongzhou as well, blocking roads and seizing goods, according to a July 1470 report. [26]

Mounted banditry continued to be a high-profile crime in the capital region during the first quarter of the sixteenth century, with major outbreaks in 1509-1510,1518, and 1521. [27] Brigandage in and around the capital was further reported in 1522, 1523, and 1528. [28]

If brigands seemed drawn to Beijing proper, they were also active in many of the entrepots surrounding the capital. Located at the northern terminus of the Grand Canal a dozen miles east of Beijing, Tongzhou was a thriving city during the Ming, boasting specialized markets, periodic markets, and inns "everywhere." [29] It was also the site of critical imperial rice granaries that supplied the capital. Here goods were unloaded and transported by cart to Beijing. The wealth passing through prosperous Tongzhou attracted the attention of not only imperial in-laws and influential eunuchs, who used their imperial connections to engage in illegal economic activities, but also of bandits and la hu or urban toughs. [30]

The man responsible for Tongzhou's security for much of the last half of the fifteenth century, Grand Defender Chen Kui, developed a reputation for his harsh measures against banditry and was rewarded on numerous occasions for his success. [31] Yet even he was occasionally powerless against the highwaymen. For instance, in May of 1466, banditry rendered the roads to Beijing impassable, thus severing the capital's supply of rice and sending grain prices spiralling. A regional military commissioner and a censor were specially dispatched from the capital to patrol from Tongzhou south to Linqing along the Grand Canal. [32] In the end, even the redoubtable grand defender of Tongzhou, Chen Kui, was cashiered for not controlling the highwaymen. [33] The post remained just as challenging for the remainder of the century and into the next. In 1513, the salary of the circuit intendant of Tongzhou was suspended, because he had failed to put down banditry, and in 1515 he was demoted after accusations of having given a f ree hand to brigands. [34]

Similar problems with banditry were reported during the mid-Ming in and around many other satellite cities around Beijing. Less than sixteen miles to the southwest of Beijing and located on several important overland routes that terminated in Beijing, Liangxiang's problems with brigandage turned severe in 1488. In response, imperial military personnel were dispatched: four commanders, chiliarchs, and centurions from the capital were each given 30 skilled cavalry troops to patrol trouble spots around Liangxiang. [35] If the late Ming vernacular short story, "The Story of A Braggart," is any indication, the area developed a national reputation for brigandage in the Ming. In this story set in the Jiajing reign (1522-66), the protagonist, a man of formidable martial skills, is warned against travelling alone between Liangxiang and Zhengzhou to the south. Rampant banditry simply made the trip too hazardous. [36]

Bandits also controlled much of the countryside near Zhengzhou. According to one late-Ming historian, local magistrates adopted a laissez-faire attitude towards the outlaws, while prominent families from nearby Renqiu county maintained close relations with them. Zhengzhou too was situated on overland trade routes and hosted an annual temple fair at the Medicine King Temple held early in the fourth lunar month. The fair attracted merchants from much of North China and large numbers of aristocratic families, military elites, eunuchs, bravos, and famous courtesans from Beijing. It is very likely that less savory members of the Capital Region were also attracted to the excitement of the Medicine King Temple fair. [37]

Banditry and other forms of criminal activity were frequently reported along the length of the Grand Canal, the critical waterway that flowed from the prosperous Jiangnan region in the south to Tongzhou in the north. Gangs of young toughs and beggars were frequently encountered, [38] and are variously reported to have beaten people, extorted goods, swindled merchants and travellers, and even to have seized grain shipments from soldiers delivering rice to the capital. [39]

Constables were assigned to patrol the Grand Canal, and there were checkpoints where papers were to be inspected. However, many officials complained that inspection was lax, often non-existent, and that local police authorities and garrison officers simply ignored the many abuses that took place along the Grand Canal. [40] Indeed, there are indications that some constables and their associates were not above indulging in robbery when circumstances permitted. [41] They are said to have been joined by local residents of commercial towns (zhendian) along the canal, transport workers, and "the poor" from other regions who had been drawn to prosperous areas like Beijing and Linqing, a major commercial city on the Grand Canal in Shandong. [42]

An October report of 1471 gives some indication of the difficulties in transporting goods to the capital. When the Grand Canal froze during the winter months, those delivering grain and goods from the south were forced to resort to overland delivery. In such areas as Dingzi gu, near modern day Tianjin, transport workers using false names and registration papers would agree to move the goods to Beijing. When they arrived at a pre-arranged spot, these transport workers would call out to their hidden companions, who would then pounce on the cart in groups of as many as a dozen, relieving the owner of all his belongings. Local officials claimed to be helpless; the culprits had used false names and registrations and were thus untraceable. [43] Banditry along the Grand Canal between Tianjin and Tongzhou continued into the sixteenth century. [44]

The Capital Region during the Middle Ming Period

The causes and patterns of banditry in the Capital Region are inseparable from the specifics of local society in the area. The following sections examine questions of geography, economics, politics, ethnicity, and the military.

The area surrounding Beijing, the Capital Region, measured roughly 18,000 square miles (30,000 square km) and was located upon the North China plain, which extends north to the Great Wall, west to the Taihang Mountains, and south to the banks of the Yellow river. As the region's geography has been analyzed in some detail by a number of modern scholars, the following description will highlight only a few of the area's major characteristics. [45] Generally very flat, the area was prone to severe flooding, especially during the summer. [46] Originating in the loess uplands west of the Taihang Mountains, most of the rivers on the North China plain carried huge amounts of silt. As silt built up in river-beds, rivers grew more likely to flood. Extensive above-ground water works designed to prevent floods and direct water flow marked much of the Capital Region. However, when they broke, flooding was severe; huge swaths of the plains were inundated. One final element of the region's geography directly relevant to ba nditry was the enormous Wenan Marshlands, located south of the capital where outlaws often eluded imperial law-enforcement officials. [47]

As a whole, the agricultural base in Capital Region could be precarious: poor alkaline soil, shorter growing seasons than areas to the south, and subject to periodic flooding. Most who lived in such subprefectures and counties south of the capital as Bazhou and Wenan were not affluent. For purposes of tax assessment and corvee responsibilities, local populations were commonly divided into three ranks of households, upper, middle, and lower, each of which in turn were again subdivided into upper, middle, and lower, for a total of nine categories (the sandeng jiuze system). According to the 1586 rankings for Wenan, nearly 70% of all households fell into the very lowest category, and lower households constituted almost 95% of all households. [48]

That being said, the Capital Region was by no means the most impoverished area of China. It supported a somewhat diversified economy and was home to a number of relatively prosperous cities. The Capital Region lies within what has been called the "wheat-kaoliang region," and in Wenan, Bazhou and other surrounding counties, the principal grains of the early sixteenth century were millet, sorghum, barley, summer wheat, and buckwheat. [49] According to the 1629 edition of the Wenan Gazetteer, other crops included sesame, soybeans, mulberry, dates, plums, pears, apricots, apples, and grapes. As was common in much of the region, notably in the southern sections of the Northern Metropolitan Area, some cotton was grown and silk or silk wadding produced as cash crops, especially late in the dynasty. [50] Salt production was a prominent element of the economy of neighboring Hejian Prefecture, especially during the latter half of the dynasty, with important production centers in Tianjin and Cangzhou. [51] Most peasant s in the Northern Metropolitan Area farmed their own small plots of land, though many also worked for larger land-owners in the region during harvest time. [52]

By the late fifteenth century, there was sufficient economic activity in North China to support periodic markets and a number of commercial towns (zhen). [53] For instance, by the early seventeenth century, Wenan boasted one periodic market and seven commercial towns. [54] Neighboring Bazhou had thirteen periodic markets by the mid-sixteenth century if not earlier, as did Zhuozhou. [55] Potouzhen, a prosperous town in Hejian prefecture along the Grand Canal, was a transfer point for regional trade as goods travelled to and from thriving Linqing, which in turn linked the North China plain with China's economic heartland, the Jiangnan region. [56]

While Beijing's economy figured prominently in the region, by the late fifteenth century, a number of other important economic centers had also emerged in the Northern Metropolitan Area. Situated on the Grand Canal with ready access to the sea, Tianjin developed rapidly during the fifteenth century as a key link in the grain transport system; three to four million piculs of grain passed through the city annually. Salt and fishing were also major economic activities. [57] Cangzhou was at the crossroads between Beijing and Shandong, a critical link in water and land transport networks. One of the empire's six salt distribution commissions was located here as well, supplying Hebei, Henan, Shandong, and the strategic border defence areas of Xuanfu, Datong, and Jizhou to the north. [58] Linking Beijing to central China, Baoding was an important military center historically. During the Ming, it was home to the Daning Regional Military Commission. Baoding supplied animal and agricultural products as well as handicr afts to Beijing. [59]

Despite the growth of these regional cities, Beijing was without question the economic hub of the Capital Region, drawing wealth from throughout the empire. [60] For most of the dynasty, roughly four million piculs of husked grain was shipped each year via the Grand Canal to Beijing on the empire's fleet of over 11,600 barges. [61] Military supplies, silks, porcelain, produce, tax silver, metalware, medicinal herbs, tribute goods, and all manner of merchandise poured into the capital from neighboring counties, distant provinces, and beyond the seas. [62]

The Capital Region's economy bears on the question of banditry in several ways. First, it demonstrates that while the general population often struggled to survive, the region was not one of unrelieved poverty. Relatively prosperous cities and periodic markets attracted people and goods, while facilitating further commercial transactions. Relatedly, as we shall see below, banditry was often concentrated around these commercial hubs and along the various highways that linked them. As the following sections demonstrate, although one can speak of rural brigands preying on urban wealth, it is important to recognize that other political, institutional, and even ethnic factors contributed to the Capital Region's distinctive pattern of banditry.

Beijing exerted a profound influence not only on the economic structures of the Capital Region, but also on social development, affecting everything from ethnic composition and the organization and registration of population to career choices and the role of military garrisons. For instance, during the early years of the Ming dynasty, the Mongols to the north were China's most pressing military threat. [63] The imperial government responded by defusing tensions among Mongols who remained in China after the Yuan dynasty fell in 1368 and courting Mongols north of the Great Wall, who for a variety of reasons might consider an alliance with the Ming dynasty.

The result was a steady migration of Mongols into China during the first 100 years of the Ming dynasty. [64] Most were settled in and around the capital, and, valued for their martial skills, were incorporated into the hereditary military household system of China. [65] The leading scholar on the subject has persuasively argued that the Mongols retained much of their language and culture well into the dynasty. [66] While in general these scattered communities of Mongols proved to be loyal and useful subjects, many officials and local residents remained skeptical of their motives, especially during periods of crisis. [67]

Their skepticism did have grounds, as a segment of the Mongol community in North China took advantage of moments of dynastic crisis to engage in banditry. For instance, in the wake of the Ming army's disastrous defeat at Tumu, a small military fort just northwest of Beijing, Mongolian forces under Esen had plundered the suburbs of Beijing in the fall of 1449. Local bandits and Mongolian troops in the service of the Ming dressed as invading Mongols and took advantage of the chaos to plunder the suburbs again in November 1449. [68]

There are indications that Mongolian soldiers and officers, like their Han counterparts, may have been part of a more systemic problem. In 1479, the powerful eunuch Wang Zhi (fl. 1476-81) reported to the throne: [69]

[1] have recently seen that the bandits in various areas who ride horses, blockade roads, make off with merchandise, and wound people are largely Mongolian army officers and Mongolian officers-in-waiting. After they obtain the merchandise, they secretly enter the garrison. When faced with apprehension, they gather together their cohort and resist capture and fight back to the point that those sent to apprehend them fear their savagery. [They] dare not go forward in pursuit of this kind of person. Their barbaric nature seems to remain unaltered. [They] are nor susceptible to the rewards for doing good. [70] If [we] do not make plans, [they] will grow increasingly fierce and unbridled in [their] reckless actions? [71]

In this passage, it is evident that Mongols used military camps as bases, pillaged in the surrounding territory, and used force to resist when confronted by authorities. It is also clear that the foreign ethnicity of the Mongols was a concern to Ming officials, a sentiment echoed in other reports from the time. For instance, in 1488 the Minister of War observed that Mongols in Ming army "appeared no different from Mongols of the steppe," dressed in armor and helmet, carrying bows and arrows, and mounted on horses. He opined that without more generous rewards, no one would risk his life by confronting them. [72]

The ethnicity of Mongols serving in the Ming military seems to have made them appear especially dangerous to at least some officials. In the eyes of some, they were daunringly fierce, while for others there was the fear that the Mongols might collude with their brethren on the steppe. Despite this apparent concern with ethnicity, Mongol banditry was for the most part a product of the same factors that figured in brigandage by Han military personnel, as we shall see below. Namely, many were underemployed men who possessed some military skills, enjoyed ready access to the arms of the day, and knew how to exploit relatively light government supervision. As the Minister of War observed in 1488 apropos the growing number of Mongols in Hejian, Baoding, and Dingzhou: "they have no other way to support themselves, so they plunder as bandits." [73]

Another group who owed their existence in the Capital Region solely to the presence of the imperial court in Beijing were eunuchs. Physical proximity to the capital and widespread poverty contributed to a strong tradition of eunuchism in local society south of the capital. [74] Eunuchs had been used as servants in the imperial palace since the late fourteenth century, [75] and from the early fifteenth century, their functions, numbers, and power increased. By the mid-fifteenth century, eunuchs were a well-established element of the Ming bureaucracy, serving in the capital and in the provinces in both military and civil posts. [76] Numbers fluctuated, but early in the sixteenth century, there are said to have been over 12,000 palace eunuchs in Beijing.

The prefectures south of Beijing were important sources of eunuchs during the Ming, and many of the most prominent eunuchs of the mid-Ming hailed from this area. As I have shown elsewhere, eunuchs successful in Beijing were often able to translate their connections at court into local influence as well as secure military posts for male relatives. Like other local elites, they patronized Buddhist and Daoist temples, contributed to public works such as bridges, and acted as power brokers. [77]

There was, however, a very dark side to the practise of eunuchism in the Capital Region. Only a small portion of those castrated gained posts in Beijing. [78] Frustrated, mutilated, and still poor, those denied employment in Beijing turned to begging and banditry, pathetic scorned outcasts who eked out their remaining days on the margins of society. [79] Despite the risks, the wealth and status to be had through service on behalf of the throne proved to be irresistible; during the Zhengde reign alone (1506--1521), over 3,500 castrated men from one large prefecture in the Capital Region petitioned the throne for appointments in Beijing. [80] As will become clear below, the proximity of the capital and its wealth also proved a powerful attraction to men willing to take another kind of risk--to make their way through violence and defiance of imperial authority.

Estate lands held by the emperor or granted to relatives and court favorites were another obvious sign of imperial influence in the Northern Metropolitan Area. [81] According to a 1489 government survey, there were approximately 168,000 acres (12,000 qing) set aside for "imperial estates" (huang zhuang); by 1514, the number had risen to over half a million acres (37,595 qing). [82] Additional estates were granted to the empress dowager, the heir apparent, imperial princesses, imperial in-laws, and members of the merit aristocracy. [83] For example, in the same 1489 report it was noted that there were over 526,000 acres (33,000 qing) of land spread over 332 sites that had been granted to imperial in-laws, eunuchs, and others. Modern scholars estimate that in toto, these lands occupied between 15% and 40% of the total acreage of the Northern Metropolitan Area. [84]

These lands held a two-fold significance for Capital Region society. First was control of the revenue they produced. Civil officials generally opposed the expansion of the estates. [85] Failing the abolition of these properties, civil bureaucrats argued that the peasants who worked on these holdings should be taxed at a fixed rate (generally a third of the harvest) and that local civil authorities should collect that revenue on behalf of the estate holders. [86] The land grantees, however, pressed strongly for the right to determine tax rates and directly collect rent. In many cases, estate holders had their way. [87]

Second was the challenge to the authority of local officials (and more generally to the civil bureaucracy) posed by the presence of these domains and their attendant personnel. Imperial estates were generally overseen by eunuchs who in turn hired local managers. [88] In order to insure rent collection, local managers often maintained an assortment of deserting soldiers, local toughs, and men who had managed to escape from the household registration system. [89] Local officials charged that these underlings abused the power and influence of their employers to perpetrate all manner of outrages against manor tenants, nearby residents, and on occasion authorities themselves. [90] Feeling unequal to the challenge, many officials tacitly acknowledged the power of these de facto satraps. [91] Often the result was a gray zone in which neither local officials nor estate managers exercised effective control, a situation conducive to both outlaws seeking refuge and officials and managers seeking to deny responsibility for crimes committed in these contested zones.

The final major feature of society in the Capital Region that had a profound influence on patterns of banditry there was the hereditary military system. To prevent the reoccurence of the disastrous An Lushan rebellion of 755, when a powerful border general nearly toppled the mighty Tang dynasty (618--907), [92] Ming rulers chose to concentrate a very large proportion of their forces close to the capital, where presumably they would be under closer supervision and tighter control. Thus, approximately one sixth of the empire's 493 units of guards were stationed either in the capital or the Capital Region, [93] and one modern scholar has estimated that one quarter of the Ming empire's troops were stationed in the Northern Metropolitan Area. [94] At least one quarter of the population in the Capital Region had direct links to various levels of military organization during the early fifteenth century. [95]

Since the Ming military influenced such a great percentage of the population in the Capital Region, a few general observations about the hereditary households are useful when thinking about local society as a whole. Following Yuan practises, Ming armies were drawn from hereditary military households. Each was responsible for producing one male for military service, who served as a soldier or officer, depending on the household. [96] To supply this "principal soldier" (zhengjun) with food, clothing, and incidentals while serving in the garrison, an additional male from the military household accompanied him to his post; they were called "supernumerary soldiers." In principle, both the principal soldier and the supernumerary soldiers accompanying him were exempt from taxes and corvee labor; in practise supernumerary, and even principal troops, were often subject to a variety of corvee services. [97]

Conditions for hereditary military households could be bleak. [98] According to an account by European observers late in the sixteenth century:

There is probably no class of people in the country as degraded and lazy as the soldiers. Everyone under arms necessarily leads a miserable life because he is following his call not out of love for his country, nor from loyalty to the King, nor from any desire to acquire fame and honor, but solely as a subject laboring for an employer ... When they are not actually engaged in military activities they are assigned to the lowest menial employments, such as carrying palaquins, tending pack animals, and other such servile occupations. [99]

In general, soldiers supplied their own clothing and gear. [100] Wages varied with rank, ranging from 1,000 piculs of grain for high ranking generals to 18 piculs for non-commissioned officers to 6 piculs for soldiers assigned to agricultural colonies; much of this was commuted to silver. [101] However, these wages were often much reduced through extortion by their commanding officers, payments to loan-sharks, variations in market prices, or grain shortages. [102] Finally, military personnel were often forced to work as servants or laborers for military officers as well as civil and eunuch officials. [103] As the number of supernumerary troops in the garrisons grew, many were put to work on the agricultural colonies, becoming servants and construction laborers, or pressed into active military service. [104]

It would, however, be a mistake to assume that all military households were condemned to this exploitation and privation generation after generation. [105] First, it is crucial to bear in mind that in general the actual burden of supplying principal and supernumerary soldiers was limited to only certain branches of a military household. Recent scholarship suggests that over time those branches of a family which resided in the garrison and regularly served as soldiers grew distanced from the original military household which could be located far away. [106] In one particularly telling case, a household member actively serving in the military returned to his ancestral home in another province to seek money for supplies. His relatives not only spurned his request, they actually burned the family's ancestral tablets, declaring that henceforth relations between the branches of the family were at an end. [107]

Second, even those branches of the military households registered in garrisons engaged in a wide variety of economic activities, [108] ranging from small businesses, to acting as personal retainers, to brigandage. For instance, a single legal case involving a supernumerary soldier in Shanxi province during the mid- 1460s mentions in passing four supernumerary soldiers who sold noodles, sugar, ran an eatery, and hawked beef strips, one supernumerary officer (she yu) who ran an eatery, a principal soldier with a restaurant, and another who sold straw. [109] One group of enterprising soldiers from the environs of Beijing is said to have carried on a brisk trade in Buddhist rosaries made from human cranium bones. Working with Tibetan monks in the capital, the soldiers exhumed graves in the area, strung the bones together and sold them in the markets of Beijing, claiming that they were Tibetan imports. [110]

Just as there were constables who were not above taking advantage of their position to indulge in criminal activities, personnel from the Ming military often were among the most flagrant violators of imperial authority. Part of this proclivity for violent crime originated in the opportunities inherent in the Ming system of divided jurisdiction over civil and military segments of the population. Guard unit officers were responsible for maintaining control over military personnel in their units, while civil officials were responsible for the rest of the population. While in theory this division of authority and responsibility between civil and military authorities was straightforward, in actual practice, questions of jurisdiction were not uncommon. Members of hereditary military households frequently lived interspersed among commoner populations and engaged in occupations that were often indistinguishable from those of civilian households. As registration records grew less reliable over the course of the fifte enth century, questions over responsibility between military and civil authorities for individual households became more frequent.

This was especially true when military colonies were located at considerable distances from military authorities. Military colonies developed reputations for unruly, often illegal, behavior, and local civil officials attempted to extend their supervisory controls over military households. This was often done out of a desire to eliminate banditry among military populations and, equally important, to prevent the spread of these practices to neighboring commoner households for which the local civil official was responsible. The frequency of complaints of banditry in areas of mixed military and commoner populations suggests that civil officials' efforts were not entirely successful.

Many military and commoner agricultural colonies in the Northern Metropolitan Area were known for their unruliness. For instance, the magistrate of Weixian, Guangping Prefecture is said to have successfully requested the relocation of military colonists in his jurisdiction, because they "bothered the people and were difficult to govern." [111] In his discussion of the descendants of colonists who had been relocated to Cheng'an, Guangping Prefecture early in the fifteenth century, one official wrote that they were "reputed to be unruly," avoided corvee service, and were given to the pursuit of archery, horsemanship, and falconry. [112] The editors of the early sixteenth century Baoding Prefectural Gazetteer remarked that troops stationed in the counties of Qingdu, Rongcheng, and Tangxian were "fierce," "held authorities in contempt," and seldom paid all of their taxes. [113] For at least one mid-sixteenth century observer, the military camps and colonies were culturally suspect as well, preserving what he vag uely called "Mongolian customs" long after the fall of the Yuan dynasty." [114]

Areas of mixed populations where military communities lived cheek by jowl with commoners were of special concern to Ming officials for a number of reasons. The well-known advocate of statecraft theory, Qiu Jun (1418--1495), noted with anxiety in the late fifteenth century that troops in Beijing were scattered through the twisting lanes of the capital, and in some cases lived dozens of li outside the city walls. He worried that they could not be called to arms quickly in a crisis and that household registration was in shambles. [115] To the east in Tongzhou, one commentator wrote wistfully of an esprit de corps that troops might enjoy had they actually lived together in military barracks. He opined that with the illegal sale of military agricultural lands, guard barracks grew dilapidated, and troops resided interspersed among the commoner population. [116] This was one facet of a much larger phenomenon--the widespread transfer into private hands of such tax-free government lands as imperial pasturages and mil itary training fields. In this case, the result was presumably the disappearance of densely settled military communities.

If the demise of these military communities was a matter of regret for some, others felt certain that the military households in Hebei had a distinctly deleterious influence upon local society. For instance, in a 1485 report, it was noted that:

In those areas of Baoding, Hejian, and such prefectures, military lands are interspersed [with regular land]; banditry occurs as a matter of course. Compared with other areas, [they, i.e. the bandits] are in fact far more numerous; that is, insofar as in these areas the civilian and military populace engage not in agriculture, [but] solely in highway robbery. The horses, mules, cattle and such stolen by the men are sometimes bought [by the local people] at half price and sometimes [they] are enticed [by profit] to harbor the stolen loot. [Such people] are called "receivers" or "bootleg buyers." [117]

Early in the sixteenth century, another observer wrote:

In the areas of Gu'an, Yongqing, Bazhou, and Wenan south of the capital, [men of] the capital garrison and military colonists live scattered [among civilians]. [They are by] nature arrogant and violent. [They] are fond of horsemanship and archery. [They] regularly block the roads and seize [their] valuables, then scatter so they cannot be caught. People call them "whistling arrow bandits." [118]

While it is clear that these authors believed such military communities were a source of social disorder, the passages also suggest that bandits enjoyed at least a measure of local support. A widespread network to dispose of the stolen livestock linked Baoding, Zhending, and Hejian with Shanxi, Henan, and Shandong; it is certain that more than just the men who stole the animals profited from this illicit trade. [119] Furthermore, the brigands' propensity to seek refuge in military colonies and to "disappear" into the countryside would seem to have been contingent on locals' reticence to inform officials of the outlaws' presence. Perhaps it was the fact that the bandits specialized in robbing those travelling along the major routes to and from Beijing that made this support or tolerance possible. The threat of bandit retribution, too, no doubt figured in the local population's silence. [120]

That Ming troops lived interspersed among commoners at times led to acute conflicts over jurisdiction between military and civil authorities. [121] Troops in the region who engaged in banditry were quick to exploit these administrative ambiguities. For example, in 1489 officials in Henan reported that soldiers from the Ningshan, Luzhou, Huaiqing, and Zhangde Guards plundered widely in the area. These troops were stationed on agricultural lands at a considerable distance from their original guard unit bases. Local civil officials complained that they were ill-supervised, and orders were issued to tighten supervision over these units. In this case, ultimate responsibility was given to officials from the neighboring Northern Metropolitan Area, while officers from the agricultural fields were to press charges when they found evidence of wrong-doing. [122]

The efficacy of this resolution is not indicated in the Veritable Records, but it did not address the underlying problem: military units were outside the jurisdiction of local civil authorities and often subject to military superiors located in an entirely different province. As one 1473 report noted:

... Insofar as military colonies and forts are far removed from the [administrative] offices of their original army camps, there is no one to oversee [them]. Even when they are within the jurisdiction of a subprefecture and county, there is still no control. [123]

This official went on to complain about the soldiers' unruliness and bullying, noting that even when they killed livestock that strayed into the camp, local people from commoner households dared not seek the animals. While in this case the suggestion to implement a mutual responsibility organization similar to those used among commoner households was rejected as being too difficult, a similar proposal was approved for Guangping, Daming, and Shunde in 1471, and was actually implemented in some parts of Baoding in 1515. [124]

Even when military authorities were physically present, their relations with local civil authorities could be strained. [125] Consider, for example, the mid-fifteenth century case of Duan Gang, a supernumerary soldier from a guard unit attached to an imperial prince who resided in Luzhou, Shanxi Province. However, Duan himself was assigned to military agricultural lands in Weixian County approximately 130 miles to the east in the neighboring Northern Metropolitan Area. [126] There, Duan is said to have joined a group of heavily armed highwaymen. The magistrate of Weixian led a band of patrolmen to apprehend Duan, who had taken refuge in the military camp. Learning that the magistrate was on his way, Duan led the stolen pack animals outside the camp in an attempt to escape blame. Local civil officials, nevertheless, recovered a portion of the stolen goods and intended to take Duan into custody, only to encounter armed resistance.

At this point, an assistant chiliarch from the military camp arrived on the scene. Having been apprised of the situation, he pretended complete cooperation with civil authorities, turning Duan and the other bandits over to the magistrate. At the same time, however, he commanded his younger brother to gather a group of men and to seize Duan and the others as the magistrate marched them back to the county seat. Duan was successfully freed, and it is said that his bandit companions, as well as a number of other brigands living in nearby colonies, took the opportunity to flee the area. [127]

Some opportunities for banditry were institutionalized. In addition to the troops permanently stationed in and around the capital, soldiers drawn from guards in the neighboring provinces of Shandong, Henan, Shanxi, Shaanxi, and the capital region itself travelled to Beijing each spring and fall for drill. [128] In 1426, the number of such troops is said to have been 160,000, and while by the mid-Ming the figure had fallen by nearly half, [129] with such large numbers of military personnel passing through the Northern Metropolitan Area on their way to and from Beijing, incidents of banditry and mayhem were not unknown. For instance, it was reported in November 1452 that not only did large numbers of soldiers desert on the way to drill in the capital, many plundered once they arrived in the vicinity of Beijing. [130] In 1470 one regional inspector described the situation in more detail:

[Cangzhou is located at] a critical juncture of water and land routes. Travellers from the two capitals pass to and from without cease. In recent years, capital rotation troops from the regional military commissions of Shandong, Henan along with [the troops] from Huai-[an] and Yang-[zhou] of the Metropolitan Area have passed through [cangzhou]. Those travelling by water display arms on the boats in which they ride. [They] use this to awe [other people]. Among them, the law abiding are few and the blackguards many. Whenever they pass deserted stretches, and they encounter on the Grand Canal the boats of travelling merchants or "great households" (da hu ) delivering tax grain and monies, [or even] a small vessel belonging to officials or commoners, they create an incident by running into it. Using this as a pretext, they accost them and board their vessel. [The soldiers] thereupon transport and seize their merchandise, humiliate their wives, and in extreme cases even beat people and throw them into the waters. People have died of these injuries.... Those troops who take the overland route [are] soldiers who have tarried too long at home and fear that they will arrive late. They gird their weapons, mount their horses, and form into groups in the guise of [a troop of soldiers]. In the deep of the night, they perpetrate their misdeeds. They rob whoever they encounter. During the day when they pass through villages, they steal domestic fowl and lead off all the livestock. They have caused hurt and suffering so great as to defy description. For pity's sake, let the [supervising] officials be charged with failure to control their subordinates. Owing to this [situation], for years now, soldiers have been able to get away with whatever they wanted, and there is nothing that anyone has been able to do about it. [131]

A later 1476 report again noted the mounted bandits active in Tongzhou, Zhuozhou, and Liangxiang were all troops training in the capital, Mongolian officers, and Mongolian officers-in-waiting. [132] According to the same report, when challenged by local police authorities, these bands would claim that they were on their way to drill. Once the authorities had passed by, the troops would resume their predatory activities. [133] Authorities were clearly aware of the problem. During the fall of 1504, one thousand Mongolian troops from Baoding and Hejian scheduled to train in Beijing were ordered not to come; it was feared that it would create "unease among the people." [134] Although this is likely another instance of a heightened sense of danger due to the Mongols' ethnicity, much of the concern must be also attributed to ongoing institutional problems that gave rise to banditry by Han soldiers as well as Mongols.

Part of soldiers' proclivity for pillaging on their way to and from training in the capital arose from the fact that they often received no wages while on the road. In a 1493 memorial, the Ministry of War noted that because of fiscal difficulties, the early Ming practice of providing wages to soldiers on campaign or en route to training in the capital had recently been discontinued. Although the Filial Ancestor (Xiaozong, r. 1488-1505) approved the ministry's recommendation that these wages be reinstated, given the fiscal straits of the latter half of his reign, it is not clear how scrupulously the order was actually observed. [135]

Examples of soldiers committing banditry in the region could be easily multiplied. [136] Perhaps a more telling sign of the chronic nature of the problem is an August, 1489 memorial that addressed the fate of the sons and grandsons of officers found guilty of brigandage. The sons and grandsons of officers who had already been executed for their crimes were to serve as soldiers in a border guard, while those of officers still being held in jail were to inherit the post but serve in a border guard. [137] The memorial suggests that military officers were being found guilty of brigandage so often that a more institutionalized method of replacing them within the hereditary system had become necessary.

Efforts at Suppressing Banditry

The Ming government drew on a wide-ranging and sophisticated body of strategies and techniques for dealing with banditry, many of which dated from the Song dynasty (907-1247) and earlier. [138] During outbreaks of banditry, government authorities often attempted to strengthen control over local populations by establishing mutual responsibility organizations, and, in conjunction with that, intensifying household registration efforts. [139] Forts and stockades were built along important routes leading to Beijing. Imperial troops, particularly Capital Garrison forces and the Imperial Guard, were periodically dispatched to crush powerful bandit groups active in the Northern Metropolitan Area. [140] Private forces and community covenants were also used to meet the challenges of brigands. [141]

By Ming times, the use of mutual responsibility organizations already had an history of over a millennium and a half. In terms of security, they served a dual function. First, they discouraged crime within neighborhoods by making all members of the community responsible for any member's violation of the law. This arrangement was also intended to eliminate such links between criminals and communities as safe houses and fencing operations. Second, when threatened with violence from outside the community, members were to take up arms, establish patrols, and make a concerted effort to apprehend criminals.

Although mutual responsibility systems could be highly effective in maintaining local security, successful implementation was difficult. It was predicated on the assumption that detailed and up-to-date records existed, that the government was willing and able to closely supervise local affairs, and that there was a degree of community solidarity. Although by the late fifteenth century, it is not clear that any of these conditions was present in the Northern Metropolitan Area, government officials did not completely abandon attempts to organize the populace into self-regulating units. For instance, in an attempt to reduce crime in Beijing, in 1489 the emperor approved security measures that included posting census certificates outside the gates of residences, punishing those who harbored illegal residents in the capital, and calling for community members to be on the alert for those with non-native speech or clothing.[142] Repeated calls for implementation of mutual responsibility units in Beijing and the Nor thern Metropolitan Area appeared in the following decades.[143] The frequent proposals to establish or to more stringently implement the mutual responsibility organizations suggest that without special efforts they tended to fall into disuse relatively quickly. It also suggests that Ming officials viewed the mutual responsibility units as a tool that was to be used periodically for limited lengths of time.

When mutual responsibility units proved insufficient to stem the tide of banditry, government troops were often dispatched. In most cases, a censor and a chiliarch or centurion from the Imperial Guard were ordered to jointly oversee campaigns to apprehend brigands. [144] It was also common for chiliarchs and centurions to be dispatched seasonally to supervise bandit-suppression troops stationed in locations in and around the capital such as Tongzhou, Zhangjiawan, and Hexiwu. [145] According to one Ming commentator, this periodic rotation was intended to prevent the development of patronage networks, presumably between outlaws and the men responsible for apprehending them. [146]

Records indicate that forts and walls were constructed along some of the major overland routes in North China to increase imperial security and to provide travellers with some measure of protection against highwaymen. [147] For instance, in a 1456 edict the emperor ordered that five forts be established between Tongzhou, east of Beijing, and Zhigu, near Tianjin, and that soldiers be stationed in each in order to guarantee the safety of travellers.[148] Again in May 1468, because of banditry between Beijing and Zhangjiawan, an entrepot to the southeast, it was ordered that a police stand be built every five li, each to be manned with 10 men and equipped with arms and warning gongs. [149]

Zhang Ding (1431-1495), a grand coordinator of the Northern Metropolitan Area, implemented a more rigorous version of this defense system early in 1488, building stockades and digging trenches along the roads of Baoding and Zhending as a defense against banditry. [150] Although construction ceased when a highly-ranked eunuch submitted a memorial sharply critical of the project to the emperor, [151] in 1492 the prefectural magistrate of Fengyang Prefecture again called for forts along the overland route from Beijing to Tongzhou, Zhangjiawan, Liangxiang, Zhuozhou, Zhending, Baoding, Hejian, and Linqing. [152] As had been the case in 1456, the fact that 1492 was a year for autumnal examinations and court audiences and that as a result more officials and students would be travelling to and from the capital accounts for some of the anxiety over banditry. [153] Stockades were also built along the major roads in the vicinity of Zhangde and Weihui in northern Henan. [154]

Although greater numbers of soldiers and more extensive fortifications were common responses to periods of heightened brigandage, equally important were the politics of maintaining order in the region. Officials charged with maintaining order did not merely passively implement measures handed down by the court. They too were members of vast patronage networks struggling to balance the demands of patrons and clients in a way that worked to their advantage.

If strong political support from one's superiors was vital, maintaining working relations with less "reputable" members of local society was also important. Officials in mid-Ming China recruited the services of locally prominent men of force in the Northern Metropolitan Area. Drawing upon a tradition dating back to at least the 12th century, Yang Yiqing (1454-1530), one of the most influential officials of the early sixteenth century, proposed enlisting the services of outlaws to help suppress the 1510 Rebellion campaign, one of the largest rebellions of the sixteenth century. [155] Many of the chief rebel leaders had previously assisted local magistrates and regional officials in putting down bandits. There are indications that this was a standard practice among local officials; the author of a well-known seventeenth century work for local magistrates recommended the use of local bandits and criminals in several passages. [156]

Ming law prescribed strict time limits within which law enforcement personnel were to apprehend criminals. In general, police officers were allowed thirty days to capture outlaws, beginning from the time that the local magistrate issued the orders for the criminals' arrest. [157] In the case of robbery, law enforcement personnel who failed to bring in the accused within the prescribed time limits were subject to beating: 20 blows of the bamboo rod after 30 days, 30 blows after two months, and 40 blows after three months. [158] The length of the time limits and the severity of punishments meted out to those who failed to meet those deadlines varied.

During the sixteenth century, a series of updated provisional "guidelines" assisted officials in interpreting the Ming Code. [159] Several of these pertained to "whistling arrow bandits" who plundered in the capital and its environs. When "whistling arrow bandits" perpetrated brigandage during broad daylight, police officers were allowed two months to apprehend the bandits. Failure to do so was to result in a demotion of two ranks and a transfer to a guard unit on the border. If "whistling arrow bandits" were not involved, or if the area plundered was desolate and far removed from the capital, similar penalties would not result until ten incidents had occurred within one year. [160] Security in Beijing and its environs was tighter than in more outlying areas, and punishment for failure to maintain that security was harsher than in other regions.

In a very real sense, law enforcement authorities had an interest in maintaining a supply of criminals. [161] Apprehending criminals was an important source of rewards and promotions for law enforcement officials, and it was a way to redeem oneself for past offenses, such as having failed to prevent the outbreak of banditry in the first place. However, as one might expect, the apprehension of "brigands" was ripe with the potential for abuse. False allegations were not unknown as officials attempted to fulfill quotas or secure rewards and promotions. [162] Accusations against members of the Imperial Guard were especially common. [163] Ming law awarded at least half of a convicted criminal's assets to those who informed on him, [164] a powerful incentive to "create" outlaws. For instance, in August of 1461 the emperor dispatched men from the Imperial Guard to take into custody people in and around Beijing who falsely accused others of banditry as a pretext for seizing their goods. Those found guilty of this cr ime were to be beaten in a public place as a warning to others. [165] Some apparently did not heed the warnings, for a report in March of 1476 recommended that those who falsely accused enemies of brigandage for merit and profit were to be punished. [166]

As shown above, terms such as "bandit" were labels, the result of processes and considerations often far removed from the seizure of others' goods by force. In one sense, bureaucratic incentives for officials to apprehend bandits and the system of rewards for informants were themselves motivation to see that a sufficient number of "brigands" was maintained. The ambiguity and flux of the status of "bandit" was apparent to Ming contemporaries, who often commented that those charged with the apprehension of bandits were themselves also brigands. [167]

Finally, it is useful to consider briefly the range of local military forces that bore on the suppression of brigandage. For simplicity's sake, local security may be divided into three sometimes overlapping categories: military garrisons, local government forces, and private efforts. [168]

In principle, the first category, military garrisons, were responsible for suppressing banditry in their jurisdictions. In reality, however, their role in maintaining local order was generally limited, [169] and even during periods of intense crisis, such as the large-scale rebellion that spread throughout much of North China during the period 1510-12, guard units almost never featured prominently in local defense. [170] In fact, as we have seen above, they often served as bases for enterprising soldier-bandits.

The second of the three categories, security organized by local government, was normally most important. Under this rubric are included such forces as the local militia (min bing) and the constabulary. Originally organized to offset the growing weakness of the Ming guard units during the fifteenth century, militias were primarily local defense forces drawn from among the populace. [171] Militia members were either conscripted through corvee service or hired as substitutes for those wealthy enough to afford the fee. [172] Men from local militias may be further subdivided into those who served in various constabulary capacities and those who acted as "people's stalwarts (min zhuang)." [173] Local constabularies were based either in district, subprefectural, or prefectural yamens or local constabulary offices located at crossroads, fords, and other strategic points. [174] They were responsible for "locating and apprehending bandits and interrogating scoundrels and cheats." [175]

If local militia and the constabulary constituted the basic day-to-day security forces of most localities in the Capital Region, one must also consider the final category of local defenses, those privately organized by local elites. [176] For example, in 1510, a retired official sojourning in Cangzhou played a critical role in the week-long defense of that city, and later in 1511, a retired censor in Yuzhou was reportedly able to assemble 3000 local men for battle. [177] While details are scarce, these local elites were often a driving force behind largely privately organized and financed militias, which on occasion were vastly more effective than either guard regulars or normal county security personnel. [178]

Below, I briefly recapitulate some of the major features of society in the capital region relevant for the area's tradition of banditry. The region's physical geography was a mix of open, flat areas with large expanses of marshlands, which offered ideal areas to hide from imperial authorities. Similarly, the jurisdictional interstices created by the political and social geography of the capital region also offered "gray areas," which helped shield bandits and other men of force from effective administrative supervision and control. Many of these men were drawn from among the ranks of principal and supernumerary soldiers serving in guard units of the Northern Metropolitan Area, a pool of men with a modicum of military training and ready access to the weapons of the day. Driven by the economic straits described above, many soldiers were not above using force to supplement their incomes. Taking advantage of the jurisdictional ambiguities between military and civilian administrators, some soldiers raided periodi cally while maintaining their status within the military camps where they served. Others offered their services to imperial princes, imperial estate managers, and local officials. Finally, the Ming government drew on a wide range of policies to counter banditry, from household registration, laws and punishments, police stands, stockades and forts to the use of military personnel and attempts to coopt brigands to the side of imperial order.

Concluding Remarks

There is anecdotal evidence that suggests banditry continued to be serious problem in the Capital Region throughout the rest of the dynasty. Let us consider the example of Bazhou, a populous county just south of Beijing. Writing in the late 1520's, Gui E (d. 1531), a leading court minister of the day, had observed that the area "east of Dongan, Bazhou, and Wuqing is desolate and sparsely populated. Thieves and robbers take refuge there. It is very much an affliction of the heart." [179] A local history of Bazhou noted in passing that "after the Zhengde reign (1506-1521), bandits gradually congregated in Bazhou." The account then identified a number of familiar problems: the large number of estates belonging to eunuchs and imperial relatives, shortages of land, and limited reserves of grain. [180] During the mid-sixteenth century, an official responsible for Bazhou's security complained that the area was "difficult to govern," where the "people are poor and customs are base." [181]

An anecdote from a well-known miscellany of the early seventeenth century, Wanli yehuo bian, suggests that Bazhou and Wenan retained a measure of notoriety for their bandits into the late sixteenth century. A comely thirty-year old woman nicknamed the Tigress had been plundering in the region for several years and developed a reputation for her proficiency with the long spear, reputedly killing a number of men in combat. Fearing that her actions would eventually attract the attention of the authorities, the Tigress' lover left her and fled to Beijing. Infuriated, she selected some of her most capable lieutenants and rode to the capital in search of him. When alarmed authorities in Beijing dispatched troops to apprehend her, the Tigress and her companions fled to the suburbs of Beijing. She was later captured and executed in Beijing. [182] If this anecdote is to be believed, bandits continued to be a presence in Bazhou, and on occasion they quite openly flaunted imperial authority by venturing into the capita l. Only when their activities directly impinged upon the security of Beijing, however, did they draw the ire of the court.

Banditry in other areas of the Capital Region continued, and there was a number of celebrated tax silver heists outside the walls of Beijing during the early seventeenth century. [183] The most detailed study of the question of order in Beijing itself suggests that levels of crime increased fairly steadily throughout the last half of the dynasty, though the study did not consider links between banditry and the military. [184] Clearly, we need more studies on earlier and later periods of the dynasty before we can adequately address such important questions as continuity and change among the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties.

The picture of the Capital Region developed in this essay represents an important revision of the most influential work on collective violence during the Ming, James Tong's Disorder Under Heaven. In contrast to Tong's finding that there was almost no banditry in the Capital Region, I have demonstrated that it was a persistent problem well recognized by contemporary observers. Banditry must be understood in the context of local society, and at the same time, banditry can shed light on the distinctive features of that society.

How are we to explain such different conclusions about banditry in the Capital Region? Much of the answer revolves around sources and methodology. Without going into too much detail, the core of Tong's book is based on statistical analysis of 131 prefectural gazetteers, that is histories compiled at an intermediate level of government, more local than the provinces, but above the county level. The quality and quantity of gazetteers varied very widely during the Ming according to both place and time, although as a generalization, it is fair to say that there are far more gazetteers available for the southern regions of China and for the last half of the dynasty. Although gazetteers are often rich sources of local information, they were compiled to satisfy agendas that seldom included detailed discussions of local unrest. Further, they often fail to adequately reflect larger institutional contexts within which individual local incidents occurred. This article makes use of prefectural and country gazetteers, bu t as noted at the outset, I have found the Veritable Records and the Compendium to be far richer sources, not only in terms of the number of incidents mentioned, but also in detail and in contextualization. In most cases, these two centrally compiled sources contained detailed information on local events, whereas corresponding local histories were completely silent. To put the matter simply, Tong's sources are insufficient to support the sort of highly systematic social science analysis that he wishes to conduct.

Perhaps more important, however, are the questions and assumptions that Tong brings to his analysis of violence. Drawing on rational choice theory, Tong argued that banditry was more prevalent in areas distant from the center of imperial power and from more local nodes of that power, such as garrison units and the seats of local administration. His position is very reasonable--men are more likely to consider the use of illegal means to attain their goals when the risk of punishment is low. However, as I have demonstrated above, risk of punishment does not necessarily increase with proximity to imperial power and its representatives.

Indeed, banditry in the Capital Region during the mid-Ming was deeply influenced by the presence of Beijing. The great wealth that supported an enviable life-style for some capital residents also attracted a steady supply of brigands and swindlers who sought to enrich themselves with the silver, goods, and grain bound for Beijing. The capital's elite, who owed their status, wealth, and influence to the dynasty, were also tied to less exalted elements of society through a variety of illicit activities. Finally, the scores of imperial guard units stationed in and around Beijing, which were intended for the defense of the dynasty against enemies from within and without, clearly also figured prominently in the region's chronic problems with brigandage.

Tong offers a panoramic view of nearly the entire empire throughout the entire 276-year course of the dynasty, while this essay limits itself to a single geographic area and a discrete period of time. Despite the limitations of a local studies approach, it is still absolutely critical to consider violence in its local context, because without such studies, the broad panoramic view can prove to be deeply misleading, whatever its initial appeal might be. My argument here is not that there was more banditry in North China than in the south, but for the need to penetrate below the surface and to move beyond a black and white rendering of late imperial Chinese society. The sorts of problems revealed in this study of the Capital Region have parallels in other areas of the empire where mixed military/commoner or Han/ non-Han populations were to be found.

If the approach and conclusions of this essay differ from those of Tong, the paper harmonizes well with a number of regional studies on violence in late imperial China. A comprehensive review of the field exceeds the scope of this article, but a limited comparison with the phenomenon of piracy along China's southeastern coast during the mid-sixteenth century illuminates both their points of commonality and the distinctive regional features of violence. Obvious points of similarity include the close links between elites and the subaltern, the subversion of imperial authority, the question of ethnicity and "the other," and the use and threat of violence to achieve ends. As Roland Higgins and others have demonstrated, "pirates in gowns and gaps," that is gentry-officials and gentry-scholars who composed the local elite, invested deeply in smuggling and, often, piracy. When officials dispatched from Beijing mounted a vigorous campaign against the smugglers and pirates (such as Zhu Wan's efforts in 1548), elite b ackers came to their aid, obstructing the campaign, undermining the officials' credibility, and eventually forcing a significant liberalization of the prohibitions against foreign maritime trade. The parallel with capital elites who offered their patronage in exchange for a percentage of stolen goods or for the services of men of force is clear. In both cases, the central government was unable to enforce its will upon local society. Finally, although the vast majority of pirates along the coast were Han Chinese, there were also Japanese and European adventurers involved. In fact, Chinese records often rather indiscriminately refer to the pirates as "Japanese pirates" (or more literally "dwarf bandits" wokou ). Here again, one might draw a parallel between the foreign component of piracy and the Mongols in the Capital Region who participated in banditry. [185]

The differences, however, are important too. These include geography, the nature of the local economy, the nature of local elites, the composition of the outlaws, and the relative urgency assigned to each. Maritime activities profoundly influenced much of the economy in China's southeastern coastal region, and by the mid-sixteenth century if not earlier, international trade played a crucial part in local society. [186] Whereas many of bandits in the Capital Region preyed upon the resources flowing to and from Beijing, "pirates" along the coast were as often involved in international trade as in raiding coastal regions. Many of these areas were affluent, highly commercialized, and made extensive use of silver. Drawing on the wealth to be gained through international trade and other forms of investment, local elites were very successful in passing the imperial examination system, in securing official positions within the national bureaucracy, and in developing extremely powerful political connections. Although elites of both regions were ultimately dependent on their links to the state for their power, [187] local elites in the Capital Region often based their position on much more direct ties to the imperial throne, whether by marriage or by personal patronage. Eunuchs, imperial in-laws, the merit nobility, and military officers were able to shield their clients from imperial justice precisely because of their personal connections. Additionally, the composition of the bandits and the pirates was different. As this essay has shown, many of the highwaymen in the Capital Region were based in the imperial military garrisons, whereas the pirates were drawn from coastal fishermen, merchants, and adventurers, none of whom enjoyed any special ties to Ming bureaucratic structures. Relatedly, while in both cases there was a foreign component, the Japanese and Europeans were generally considered outright outlaws, while most of the Mongols who turned to banditry were members of the Ming military, often enjoying special tax a nd corvee exemptions because of imperial orders. Finally, precisely because of the security issues involved in the international aspects of piracy and the more overt political challenges posed by the elites of the southeastern coastal regions, piracy became a fiercely debated policy problem in a way that banditry in the Capital Region never did. Even after a destructive two-year rebellion grew out of problems in the Capital Region in the early sixteenth century, there was no attempt to reorganize the garrison system, the ambiguities of civil versus military jurisdiction, or the dangerous patronage networks that linked capital elites to local men of force.

Thus, while the very preliminary comparison sketched above shows significant parallels between patterns of violence and crime in the Capital Region and those along the southeastern coastal region, their differences remain just as important and suggest that the study of economies of violence provides a useful addition to our understanding of regional history in China.

Abstract: David M. Robinson, "Banditry and the Subversion of State Authority in China: The Capital Region during the Middle Ming Period (1450--1525)"

Highway banditry in Ming China's Capital Region during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries owed much to the strong state presence radiating outward from Beijing. The essay opens with a survey of general patterns of banditry in the Capital Region. It then analyzes the social, political, economic, military, ethnic, and geographic features that contributed the region's distinctive forms of violence. It concludes with a preliminary comparison of Capital Region banditry and coastal piracy.

Due to administrative interstices, inadequate supervision, access to arms, and economic privation, the thousands of imperial troops in the Capital Region intended to protect the interests of the throne were often the most likely to turn to brigandage. In the same way, recipients of imperial favor such as eunuchs, imperial in-laws, and high officials, often used their privileged position to engage in illegal activities, including acting as fences for local brigands. Even officials responsible for eradicating banditry maintained strong links to brigands and other marginal elements of Ming society. The study argues that brigandage need not be a phenomenon of the periphery, but can also grow out of a strong state presence.


My thanks to James Geiss, Frederick Mote, Kira Stevens, and the anonymous readers of the Journal of Social History for their insightful comments and instructive suggestions. Earlier versions of this paper were presented before the 1998 Annual Meeting of the Assocation of the Asian Studies and the 1999 Annual Meeting of the American Historical Assocation. I should like to express my gratitude to participants of both meetings for their comments and observations. I, of course, bear responsibility for all remaining problems of interpretation and translation.

(1.) The other Ming capital was at Nanking. See Edward Farmer, Early Ming Government, The Evolution of Dual Capitals (London, 1976). For the development of Beijing, see James Geiss, "Beijing under the Ming (1368-1644)," (Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1979).

(2.) Based on estimations of annual tonnages of tribute grain delivered to Beijing, Joanne Wakeland has argued that the population of the capital was "between 800,000 and 1 million people (p. 92)." For a discussion of her calculations, see Wakeland, "Metropolitan Administration in Ming China: Sixteenth Century Beijing"(Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 1982), pp.83-92. Han Dacheng also estimates the population of Beijing to have been approximately one million by the 16th century. See Han, Mingdai chengshi yanjiu (Beijing, 1991), pp. 59-60; "Mingdai Beijing jingji shulue," Beijing shehui kexue 4 (1991): 93-105, p. 93. On the hazards of calculating Ming Beijing population figures, see Aramiya Manabu, "Mindai no shuto Pekin no toshi jinko ni tsuite," Yamagata daigaku shigaku ronshsa 11 (Feb. 1991): 23-46.

(3.) For treatment of the early Ming, see Frederick Mote, "The Rise of the Ming Dynasty, 1330-1367,"in Denis Twitchett and Frederick Mote, eds., The Cambridge History of China, Volume 7, The Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644, Part 1, (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 11-57; Edward Dreyer, "The Military Origins of Ming China," ibid, pp. 58-106; John Langlois, 'The Hung-wu Reign, 1368-1398," ibid, pp. 107-181; Hok-lam Chan, "Chien-wen, Yunglo, Hung-hsi, and Hsuan-te reigns," ibid, pp. 182-304. For a recent and very accessible treatment of the social and economic changes that took place during the early and middle Ming, see Timothy Brook, The Confusions of Pleasure (Berkeley, 1998), pp. 1-152

(4.) Martin Heijdra, "The Socio-economic Development of Ming Rural China (1368- 1644): An Interpretation" (Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1995), p. 53.

(5.) Edward Peters, Europe and the Middle Ages (Englewood Cliffs, 1989), p. 142.

(6.) On economic conditions in Eurasia during the 15th and 16th centuries, see William Atwell, "Yurashia no 'Daikinginko," Kokusai koryu 62 (1993): 54-60. For a broad overview of the Ming economy with an emphasis on its international dimensions, see William Atwell, "Ming China and the 'Emerging World Economy,' 1470-1650," Denis Twitchett and Frederick Mote, eds., Cambridge History of China, Volume 8, the Ming Dynasty, Parr Two (Cambridge, 1998), pp. 376-416.

(7.) On the recovery from the 15th century "cultural slump," see Andrew Plaks, The Four Masterworks of the Ming Novel (Princeton, 1987), pp. 3-52.

(8.) Wang Ao, zhenze changyu (early 16th century; rpt. in Jilu huibian, ed. Shen Jiefu. 1617; rpt. Taibei, 1969) 2.30a. This figure is also cited in Dardess, A Ming Society: T'aiho County, Kiangsi, in the Fourteenth to Seventeenth Centuries (Berkeley, 1996), p. 141. Dardess writes that subbureaucracy was approximately three times the size of the official bureaucracy, which seems very low. Nimick has noted that by late Ming times, larger counties reportedly had as many as 1000 staff members, while smaller ones employed between 400 and 500 men See Thomas Nimick, "The County, the Magistrate, and the Yamen in late Ming China," (Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1993), p. 34.

(9.) For the unofficial administrative units below the county level, see Timothy Brook, "The Spatial Structure of Ming Local Administration," Late Imperial China 6.1 (June 1985): 1-55.

(10.) The quote is from the English translation of Mendoza's Historia de las cosas mas notables, ritos y costumbres del gran Reyno de la China as cited in Donald Lach, Asia in the Making of Europe (Chicago, 1965), vol. 1, p. 764. Lach provides an enlightening survey of European reporting and impressions of China during the 16th century (pp. 730-821).

(11.) Dai Jin, Huang Ming tiaofa shilei zuan [hereafter HMTF] (ca. 1531; rpt. Tokyo, 1966), juan 33, vol. 2, pp. 20-21.

(12.) Tong, Disorder under Heaven: Collective Violence in the MingDynasty (Stanford, 1991), pp. 50, 52, 63, table 3.12.

(13.) Tong, Disorder Under Heaven, p. 58, table 3.7.

(14.) For a recent overview of rational choice models, see James Tong, Disorder under Heaven, pp. 76-95. The idea that peripheral areas far removed from the central government were particularly subject to brigandage is extremely prevalent in the literature. See Eric Hobsbawm, Bandits (New York, 1969), pp. 16-17. in the field of China, it is present in the work of James Tong (noted above) and Elizabeth Perry, Rebellion and Revolution in North China, 1845-1945 (Sranford, 1980). This assumption is implicit in Joseph Esherick's argument that the lack of a dominant gentry in western Shandong (i.e. one committed to Confucian ideology and the support of the state) contributed to (and was at the same time a product of) widespread banditry from at least the late Ming. See Esherick, The Origins of the Boxer Uprising (Berkeley, 1987), chapter 2.

(15.) For detailed definitions of dao and zei, see Hanyu dacidian, vol. 7, pp. 1431-32 and vol. 10, p. 183 respectively. Both terms could mean either bandit or rebel depending on the context. As the noted historian of the Ming, Frederick Mote, has observed, "the distinction between banditry and rebellion in the Chinese taxonomy of social disorders is somewhat like that between mice and rats in traditional Chinese zoological taxonomy--they are the same species, but the latter have grown larger than the former. The critical difference administrators had to discern was that while banditry constituted a hazard to local order and safety, rebellion challenged the state and might threaten it." Mote, "The Ch'eng-hua and Hung-chih Reigns, 1465-1505," in The Cambridge History of China, volume 7, The Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644, Part 1, pp. 376-77. For insightful discussion of the usage of the term latro or "bandit," see Brent Shaw, "Bandits in the Roman Empire," Past and Present 105 (Nov. 1984): 3-52.

(16.) For the relevant sections of the Ming Code, see Huang Zhangjian, Mingdai luli huibian (Taibei, no, 75, 1979), pp. 755-56. Statutes enacted during the late 15th and early 16th centuries dictated that after execution, the decapitated head of the offender was to be displayed in the area where he had committed banditry as a lesson to others.

(17.) For discussions of the compilation, limitations and biases of the Ming Veritable Records, see Wu Han, "Ji Ming shi lu," Zhongyang yanjiuyuan lishi yuyan yanjiusuo jikan 18 (1948): 385-447 (In idem, Dushi zhaji. 1956; rpt. Beijing, 1960); Mano Senryu, "Mindai rekicho jitsuroku no seiritsu," in Mindai Man-Ma shi kenkyu, ed. Tamura Jitsuzo (Kyoto, 1963), pp. 1-72; Wolfgang Franke, "The Veritable Records of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)," in Edwin Pulleyblank and William Beasley, eds., Historians of China and Japan (London, 1961), pp. 60-77.

(18.) The dating of the compilation is problematic, but Franke estimates it to have been between 1531 and 1533. See Franke, Introduction to the Sources of Ming History (Kuala Lumpur, 1969), p. 187. For a discussion of the work's preface and the problems surrounding its dating and authorship, see Niida Noboru, "Kyushohon Ko Min joho jiruisan shiken," Toyo gakuen 27. 4 (1940): 602-620; Huang Zhangjian, Mingdai luli huibian, pp. 3-5. For a brief bibliographic note, see Nagasawa Kikuya, "Ko Min joho jirui o miru," Shishigaku 15.2: 27-32. On its value as a historical document, see Wang Yuquan, "Huang Ming tiaofa shilei zuan duhou," Mingdai yanjiu luncong 1 (1982): 1-28.

(19.) Yingzong shilu in Ming shilu (1418-mid-17th century. Facsimile reproduction of Guoli Beiping tushugaun cang hongge chaoben, 133 vols. Taibei, 1961-1966) [hereafter YZSL] (1450-11-11) 197.2b, (1452-12-24) 223.7a, (1453-9-21) 232.7a, (1455-11-19) 259.2a, (1456-12-8) 272.3a, (1458-12-23) 297.4a.

(20.) HMTF juan 33, vol. 2, p. 20. Cf. juan 45, vol. 2, p. 293.

(21.) Xianzong shilu 53.15.

(22.) Hanyu da cidian vol. 12, p. 663. See also Huang Zhangjian, comp., Mingdai luli huibian, pp. 756-57. Giles translates the term xiangma as mounted highwaymen (A ChineseEnglish Dictionary, p. 531).

(23.) HMTF, juan 45, vol. 2, p. 299. Banditry in Beijing is mentioned in passing in a 1476-3-19 entry of the Xianzong shilu (150.7a).

(24.) Shen Shixing, comp., Da Ming huidian (1587: rpt. Taibei: Dongnan shubaoshe, 1964), 129. 15b. In 1492, a year for autumnal examinations in the capital, worried officials reported banditry around the capital and in the Northern Metropolitan Area (XZSL; Da Ming huidian 136.8a).

(25.) HMTF, juan 45, p. 308 (1473-1-10 report).

(26.) HMTF, juan 45, vol. 2, p. 310.

(27.) Shizong shilu [hereafter SZSL] (1521-12-5) 8.4a, (1521-12-24) 8.15b. For details of the 1510 rebellion, see Robinson, Bandits, Eunuchs, and the Son of Heaven: Violence and Local Order in Ming China (unpublished manuscript).

(28.) SZSL (1522-8-4) 16.5b-6, (1523-2-21) 23.2b, (1523-10-5) 31.3a-b, (1528-5-21)

(29.) 1549 Tongzhou zhilue, juan 2.

(30.) For Tongzhou's strategic location, HMTF, juan 34, vol. 2, p. 43. For the commercial activities of imperial in-laws, eunuchs, and other favorites of the emperor in Tongzhou and other important economic centers in and around Beijing, see Han Dacheng, Mingdai shehui jingji chutan (Beijing, 1986), pp. 356-94.

(31.) Ni Yue, "Da Ming gu Ronglu dafu houjun dudufu du du tongzhi Chen Gong muzhiming," Qingxi man' gao, juan 22, in Wenynange siku quanshu (1773-83; rpt. Taibei, 1983), vol. 1251, pp. 305-307; YZSL 330.5b; Xianzong shilu 30.8b.

(32.) Xianzong shilu 29.1a. For another report of mounted bandits in Tongzhou (who are said to have been mostly imperial soldiers), see HMTF, juan 45, vol. 2, p. 295.

(33.) Xianzong shilu 187.2a.

(34.) 1549 Tongzhou zhilile 8.2b-3b. There was a branch office for the Imperial Guard located in Tongzhou. (WZSL 105.6b, 120.3a). Banditry was reported to be widespread during the early 1520's.

(35.) HMTF, juan 45, vol. 2, p. 295; Da Ming huidian 136.2a-b.

(36.) Ling Mengchu, "Liu Dongshan kuaji Shunchengmen, Shiba xiong zongqi cun jiusi," Pai-an jingqi (Late Ming; rpr. Hongkong, 1966), juan 2, p.64. Translated in The Courtesan's Jewel Box: Chinese Stories of the 10th-17th Centuries (Beijing, 1981), p. 438. In 1622, security was still a problem in and around Liangxiang. There were supposed to be small forts every five Ii (three li was approximately equal to one mile) between the gates of Beijing and Liangxiang, each manned by ten soldiers to guard against bandits. There were also supposed to be twenty militiamen stationed between Marco Polo Bridge and Liangxiang( 1886 Shuntian fuzhi, vol. 7, p. 2323).

(37.) Shen, Wonli yehuo bian (1619; rpt. Beijing, 1980), juan 24, p. 618.

(38.) HMTF, juan 45, vol. p. 303.

(39.) HMTF, juan 29, vol. 1, pp. 711-12; juan 35, vol.2, P. 60; juan 45, vol. 2, pp. 311.

(40.) HMTF, juan 29, vol. pp. 711-712; juan 35, vol. 2, p. 60; juan 45, vol. 2, pp. 303, 311.

(41.) HMTF, juan 3, vol. 1, p. 69-70; juan 45, vol. 2, pp. 311.

(42.) HMTF, juan 45, vol. 2, p. 311, from a 1476-3-5 report.

(43.) HMTF, juan 35, vol. 2, pp. 723-24.

(44.) WZSL 165.4b.

(45.) See Philip Huang, The Peasant Economy and Social Change in North China (Stanford, 1985), pp. 53-66; Ramon Myers, The Chinese Peasant Economy: Agricultural Development in Hopei and Shantung, 1890-1949 (Cambridge, 1970), pp. 8-12. For a description of the area with more emphasis upon Shandong, see also Esherick, Origins, pp. 1-17; Heijdra (1995), pp. 291-94.

(46.) See "Yi ling Wu jun de zheng bei ji," 1922 Wenan xianzhi 9.3a; 1703 Wenan xianzhi 3.17a. On the role of deforestation in flooding, see Zhang Gang, "Mingdai Beizhili diqu de nongye jingji," Hebei xuekan 1 (1989): 65-70, esp. p. 69. See also Francesca Bray and Joseph Needham, Science and Civilization in China, Vol. 6: Biology and Biological Technology, part II: Agriculture (Cambridge, 1984), p. 14.

(47.) The elevation of Wenan is between 2m in the southwest to 7.5m in the northeast, while Bazhou ranges between 12 and 15 meters above sea level (Hebei sheng fenxian dituce, pp. 23-24). For a general description of North China, see Bray and Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, Volume 6: Biology and biologicial technology, part ll: Agriculture, pp. 14-15. Elizabeth Perry describes the overlapping Huaibei region in her Rebels and Revolutionaries, pp. 18-25.

(48.) Heijdra (1995), pp. 183.

(49.) 1629 Wenan xianzhi 4.58a-b; 1548 Bazhou zhi5.6a, 1574 Zhuozhou zhi 3.4a. While rice is mentioned in both the Bazhou zhi and the Zhuozhou zhi, it would not be more widely cultivated in the Capital Region until late in the 16th century. See Han Decheng, Mingdai chengshi yanjiu, pp. 22-24; Cong Hanxiang, "14 shiji houqi zhi 16 shijimo Huabei pingyuan nongcun jingji fazhan de kaocha," Zhongguo jingjishi yanjiu 3 (1986): 18-20. Also, Zhang Gang, "Mingdai Beizhili diqu de nongye jingji," Hebei xuekan 1 (1989): 65-70.

(50.) 1629 Wenan xianzhi 4.58a-b; 1548 Bazhou zhi 5.9b; 1574 Zhuozhou zhi 3.4a-b. Also, Zhang Gang (1989): 67-68. Cong (1986): 21-22.

(51.) While salt merchants would reach the apogee of wealth only later in the Ming, even by 1540 they were prominent in the region (1540 Hejian fuzhi 10.3b). See Zhang Zengyuan, "Tianjin Yanshang yiqie," Tianjinshi yanjiu 2 (1986): 12-19; Lin Chunye and Zhang Zengyuan, "Ming-Qing caoyun he yanye yu Tianjin chengshi de fazhan," Tianjinshi yanjiu 2(1987): 13-24. There was a Salt Distribution Commissioner based in Cangzhou.

(52.) Kataoka Shibako, "Minmatsu Shinsho no Kahoku ni okeru noka keiei," Shakai keizai shigaku 25.2-3 (June, 1959): 77-100; Adachi Keiji, "Shindai Kahoku no nogyo keiei to shakai kozo," Shirin 64.4 (July 1981): 66-93; Philip Huang (1985), 85-105.

(53.) For an overview of North China's economy with an emphasis on the late Ming, see Xu Hong, "Mingdai houqi huabei shangpin jingji de fazhan yu shehui fengqi de bianqian," Dierci Zhongguo jindai jingjishi huiyi (Taibei, 1989), vol. 1, pp. 107-73. For the development of periodic markets in North China during the Ming, see Yamane Yukio, "Min-Shin jidai Kahoku ni okeru teikiichi," Tokyo joshi daigau shiron 8 (1960): 495 (reprinted in Min-Shin Kahoku teikiichi no kenkyu Tokyo, 1995). This article was translated as "Periodic Markets in North China during the Ming and Ch'ing Periods," Occasional Papers of Research Publications and Translations, no. 23 (1967), pp. 109-42. See also Yamane's "Min-Shinsho no Kahoku no shishuto shinshi to gomin," in Nakayama Hachiro kyoju shoju kinen Min Shinshi ronso (Tokyo, 1977), pp. 305-306, reprinted in Min-Shin Kahoku teikiichi no kenkyu; "Min-Shin jidai Kahoku shishuno gako," in Hoshi hakushi taikan kinen Chugokushi ronshu(Yamagata, 1978, pp. 227-248 (reprinted in Min-Shin Kaho ku teikiichi no kenkyu); "Kahoku no byokai: Santosho o chushin ni shite," Tokyo joshi daigaku shiron no. 17 (1967), pp. 1-22 (reprinted in Min-Shin Kahoku teikiichi no kenkyu). See also Han Dacheng's Mingadai chengshi yanjiu for two appendices on zhenshi during the Ming (pp. 666-703). For an overview of cities on the Grand Canal during the Ming and Qing, see Yang Zhengtai, "Ming Qing shiqi Changjiang yibei yunhe chengzhen de tedian yu bianqian," Lishi dili yanjiu 1 (1986): 104-29.

(54.) 1629 Wenan xianzhi 2.18a--b.

(55.) 1548 Bazhou zhi 1.17b; 1574 Zhuozhou zhi 2.6a--b. There were four periodic markets in Fangshan (Zhouzhou zhi 2.8a--b). In Bazhou, eight of the thirteen markets were outside the city walls, while in Zhuozhou and Fangshan, the numbers were five and three respectively.

(56.) 1540 Hejian fu zhi 10.3b. For instance, iron agricultural implements were transported by carts from Linqing to Potou.

(57.) Wang Ling, Beijing yu zhouwei chengshi guanxishi (Beijing, 1988), pp. 81-105; Guo Xunjing, "Ming-Qing shiqi Tianjin yuye," Tianjinshi yanjiu 1 (1987): 1-5. Wang Ling's work represents an important attempt to explain the complex connections between Beijing and the other cities of Hebei.

(58.) Wang Ling, Beijing yu zhouwei chengshi guanxishi, p.8l.

(59.) Wang Ling, p. 128.

(60.) The classic work on the economic life of Beijing is Xu Daling's "Mingdai Beijing de jingji shenghuo," Beijing daxue xuebao 42 (1959): 185-207. See also James Geiss, "Beijing in the Ming," and Han Dacheng, "Mingdai Beijing jingji shulue," Beijing shehui kexue 4 (1991): 93-105.

(61.) Ray Huang, "The Grand Canal during the Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644," (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 1964), p. 66.

(62.) See Xu (1959), pp. 52-4, esp. n. 6 for description of goods in Beijing. Also Geiss (1979) for mercantile activities in Beijing.

(63.) Edward Dreyer, Early Ming China: A Political History 1355-1435 (Stanford, 1982).

(64.) Henry Serruys, "Landgrants to the Mongols in China: 1400-1460," Monumenta Serica 25 (1966): 394-405 (rpt. in The Mongols and Ming China: Customs and History, ed. Francoise Aubin, London, 1987), p. 394. In addition to Serruys' meticulous work, a few Chinese scholars have touched upon the question of the Mongols in Ming China. See Xu Hong, "Ming Hongwu nianjian de renkou qianxi," Zhongyang yanjiuyuan sanmin zhuyi yanjiusuo, ed. Dierjie lishi yu Zhongguo shehui bianqian yanraohui(Taibei, 1982), pp. 238-39; Wu Yunting, "Tumu zhi qianhou de Menggu jiangren," Hebei xuekan 3 (1989): 106-111; He Guanbiao, Yuan-Ming jian Zhongguo jingnei Mengguren zhi nongye gaikuang (Hong Kong, 1977); Yang Shaoyou and Mo Junqin, Mingdai minzushi (Chengdu, 1996), pp. 117-21; Di Fusheng, "Shilun Mingchao chuqi juzhu zai neidi de Mengguren," Minzu yanjiu 3 (1996): 70-7.

(65.) Henry Serruys, "The Mongols in China: 1400-1450," Monumenta Serica 27 (1968): 233-305; "Foreigners in the Metropolitan Police during the 15th Century," Oriens Extremus 8.1 (1961): 59-83.

(66.) Henry Serruys, "Remains of Mongol Customs in China during the Early Ming Period," Monumenta Serica 16 (1959): 137-190; "Landgrants to the Mongols in China: 1400-1450," pp. 395-6, 404; "The Mongols in China: 1400-1450," PP. 285, 304-5.

(67.) Serruys, "The Mongols in China: 1400-1450," PP. 241-44, 305; "Foreigners in the Metropolitan Police during the 15th Century," p.83. See also David Robinson, "Ethnicity, Force, and Politics: Ming Mongols and Abortive Coup of 1461," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 59.1 (1999): 79-123.

(68.) YZSL 184.17b, 184.19b, 184.20b.

(69.) For a biographical note on Wang Zhi, see Dictionary of Ming Biography, pp. 1357-58.

(70.) The characters in the text are Li shi, but I suspect that this is a scribe's error. I have followed Professor Frederick Mote's suggested reading in the translation.

(71.) HMTF, juan 45, vol. 2, p. 624. Cited in Robinson, "Ethnicity, Force, and Politics." Although the specific regions are not mentioned in Wang Zhi's memorial as recorded in the HMTF, an abbreviated version preserved in a 1479-3-13 entry from the Xianzong shilu indicates that the bandits in question were from the Capital Region (187.4a).

(72.) HMTF, juan 45, vol. 45, p. 298. Also in 1488, the new grand coordinator of the Northern Metropolitan Area was told to keep an eye on the Ming Mongols in case of attack by the steppe Monols. See Xiaozong shilu [hereafrerXZSL] (1488-2-18) 10.215.

(73.) HMTF, juan 45, vol. p. 298.

(74.) See Robinson, "Notes on Hebei Eunuchs during the mid-Ming," Ming Studies 34 (July 1995): 1-16. For an anecdotal introduction to eunuchs in Chinese history, see Mitamura Taisuke, Chinese Eunuchs: The Structure of Intimate Politics(Tokyo, 1970, 2nd printing 1992) a translation of Kangan: sokkin seiji no kozo (Tokyo, 1963). The most comprehensive Western language treatment of eunuchs during the Ming period is Henry Shih-shan Tsai, The Eunuchs of the Ming Dynasty (Albany, 1996). For a densely documented examination of shifting court attitudes towards the practise of self-castration and full citations of the most important scholarship on eunuchs during the Ming, see Qiu Zhonglin, "Mingdai zigong qiuyong xianxiang zailun," Danjiang shixue 6 (1994): 125-46.

(75.) Huang Zhangjian, "Lun Huang Ming zuxun Lu suoji Mingchu huanguan zhidu," Zhongyang yanjiuyuan lishi yuyan yanjiusuo jikan 32 (1961): 77-97.

(76.) Robert Crawford, "Eunuch Power in the Ming Dynasty," T' oung-pao 49.3 (1961): 115-48. For eunuchs' role as provincial "Grand Defenders," see Fang Zhiyuan, "Mingdai de zhenshou zhongguan zhidu," Wenshi 49 (1994): 131-45. For their supervisory role over the "Four Guards" and the "Valiants Garrison," see Fang Zhiyuan, "Mingdai de siwei, yongshi ying," Dierjie Ming Qingshi guoji xueshu taolunhui lunwenji(Tianjin, 1993), pp. 489-499.

(77.) Robinson, "Notes on Hebei Eunuchs during the mid-Ming."

(78.) The famed late Ming literatus Shen Defu (1578-1618) estimated that "only one out of ten" gained posts. See Wanli ye huo bian, juan 6, p. 179.

(79.) Shen, Wanli Ye huo han, juan 6, p. 178.

(80.) Shimizu Taiji, "Jikyukangan no kenkyu," Shigaku zasshi 43.1 (1932): 83-128, esp. p. 120.

(81.) While these estates were spread throughout the region, they were most heavily concentrated in the prefectures of Shuntian, Hejian, and Baoding.

(82.) XZSL 28.13a, vol.54, p.629; Lin Jun, "Chuan feng chi yi cha zhen ji nei tian di shu," Huang Ming jingshi wenbian, 88.9a.

(83.) For a discussion of these estates, see Zheng Kecheng, Mingdai zhengzheng tanyuan (Tianjin, 1988), pp. 114-21.

(84.) Chang Sha added 2,328,200 acres (166,300 qing) in other estate lands to the 37,595 figure and divided by 6,895,966 acres (492,569 qing), the total acreage of the Northern Metropolitan Region to arrive at his estimate of over 40% ("Mingdai Jingji 'zhuang tian' xiao yi"), Zhongguoshi yanjiu 3 (1985): 108. Dividing 37,595 by 269,707, the amount of taxable land in the eight prefectures of the Northern Metropolitan Area according to the Wanli edition of the Da Ming huidian, Zheng Kecheng arrived at his estimation of 1.7 (Mingdai zhengzheng tanyuan, p. 131). James Geiss divided the 37,595 by the amount of taxable land given in the Zhengde edition of the Da Ming hui dian for his estimate of 1.6 ("Beijing in the Ming," p. 101). All figures must be approached cautiously. None of the above authors addresses the question of the reliability of either the estate land surveys or the nettlesome problem of the tax land surveys. For estimates of acreage and annual income from these lands, see Huang, Taxation in 16th Cen tury China, pp. 325-26.

(85.) For example, see Li Min's above-mentioned 1489 memorial (XZSL 28.13a-b, vol. 52, pp. 6290-30) or Lin Jin's 1520s "Lun huang zhuang shu," Huang Ming jingshi wenbian, 174. la-2b.

(86.) See Zheng Kecheng, Mingdai zhengzheng canyuan pp.143-45, 170-74. On estate tents, see Wang Yuquan, "Mingdai xungui dizhu de dianhu," Laiwu ji, pp. 242-83, esp. pp. 268-69; Wang Yuquan, "Mingdai de wangfu zhuangtian," Laiwu ji, pp. 110-241, esp. pp. 166-93. For a conflicting view, see Ray Huang, Taxation in 16th Century China, p. 107.

(87.) Ray Huang has argued, in contrast, that in most cases magistrates collected the revenue and remitted to the estate holder (Taxation in Sixteenth Century China, p. 107). Estate holders did not present a united front againt the civil bureaucracy. The desire to control greater tracts of land and increased revenue pitted all those with access to the throne in a internecine struggle for influence. For the fortunes of the Zhang family, one of the most notorious imperial in-laws during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, see Sat6 Fumitoshi, "Mindai chuki no gaiseki, Choshi kyodai," Toyoshi kenkyu 49.3 (December 1990): 63-86.

(88.) Eunuchs also oversaw the management of estates belonging to imperial princes. They were accompanied by servants and several dozen low ranking military officers drawn from the prince's military guard. See Wang, "Mingdai de wangfu zhuangtian," pp. 166-68.

(89.) One 1466 report wrote of "desperadoes led by [estate] servants who ride horses and mules, carrying bow and arrows, swords, and military equipment (HMTF, juan 13, p. 314, quoted in Zheng Kecheng, pp. 149-53)."

(90.) Lin Jun, "Chuan feng chi yu cha zhen ji nei tian di shu," Huang Ming jingshi wenbian 88.9a-lOa. Alleged crimes included annexing lands, extorting goods and money, seizing livestock, raping women, and murder (XZSL 28.13a-b, vol. 52, p. 629-30, quoted in Wang, "Mingdai xungui dizhu de dianhu," p. 275). For more on this question, see pp. 274-75. Also Wang, "Mingdai de wangfu zhuangrian," pp. 191-92 and "Mingchao xungui baoheng zhi yiban," pp. 326-41 (both reprinted in Laiwu ji). A 1479 report charged that "servants and estate managers assembled desperadoes, bullied officials, and bitterly harmed soldiers and commoners ... "(HMTF, juan 3, pp. 316, quoted in Zheng Kecheng, Mingdai zhengzheng tanyuan p. 151).

(91.) Lin Jun charged that in the face of these abuses, "commoners were at a loss as to what to do and local officials dared do nothing," ("Chuan feng chi yu cha zhen ji nei tian di shu," Huang Ming jingshi wenbian 88.3 b). Wang Yuquan has noted that not only local magistrates but even such high officials as Grand Coordinators and Regional Inspectors were known to have adopted a laissez-faire attitude toward the matters of princely estates ("Mingdai de wangfu zhuangtian," p. 165, also 217-18). One consequence of this was that tenants on these properties were also able to act with a degree of immunity from local officials (Wang, "Mingdai xungui dizhu de dianhu," pp. 259-62).

(92.) For details of the rebellion, see Edwin Pulleyblank, The Background of the Rebellion of An Lushan (Westport, 1982, 1955).

(93.) Zhang Tingyu, et al. ed. Ming shi (1736; rpt. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1984), 8.90.2197-222.

(94.) Ma Zishu, "Mingdai jundui shuailuo de neizai yinsu," Gugang bowuyuan yuankan 2 (1987): 11-12. According to Chen Hongmo and Wang Ao, there were 896,000 troops in the Ming army during the Zhengde reign. See Chen, Jishi jiwen, (Early sixteenth century; rpt. Beijing, 1985), juan 5, p. 107; Wang, Zhenze chang yu 2.30a.

(95.) See Liang Yong, "Qianlun Mingdai Hebei de weisuo he juntun," Hebei shifan daxue xuebao 2(1987): 81. Liang Yong's estimates that military forces constituted 60% of the Northern Metropolitan Area population, which is highly questionable. Based on information in the Military Treatise of the Official Dynastic History of the Ming Ming, Liang writes that if we assume that that there were 5,500 men in each of the 80 guards, plus transfers from other areas, one would reach a figure over 500,000. There is, of course, no way to know how many men were actually in each of the guards. For his estimate of the population of the Northern Metropolitan Area, Liang uses a 1403 figure of 189,000 households and then multiplies this by what he reckons was the average household size at the time, five. His calculations can only be taken as an upper ceiling. The actual number of troops in the region was certainly less, and decreased rapidly through the fifteenth century.

(96.) While the favored principle of succession was from father to eldest son of the principal wife, a wide variety of substitutes within the military household was permitted according to circumstances. For a detailed explanation of the process of inheriting officers' posts, see Yu Zhijia, Mingdai junhu shixi zhidu, pp. 142-55; Kawagoe Yasuhiro, "Mindai eisho no shajin ni tsuite," Chuo daigaku bungakubu kiy6 70.31 (March 1986): 77-107.

(97.) Wang Yuquan, "Mingdai de junhu," pp. 356-5 7.

(98.) This view is most succintly expressed in Wang Yuquan, "Mingdai de junju."

(99.) Marteo Ricci and Nicola Trigault, China in the Sixteenth Century (Translated from the Latin by Loius Gallagher, New York, 1953), p. 91.

(100.) Wang Yuquan, "Mingdai de junhu," p. 355. Cavalry troops could be responsible for supplying their own mounts, while soldiers assigned to work in postal relay stations were required to provide their own saddles, bedding, and miscellaneous objects for the the station.

(101.) Chen Wenshi, "Mingdai weisuo de jun," Zhongyang yanjiujyuan lishi yuyan yanjiuyuan jikan 48. 2 (1977): 177-203, p. 189. His figures are from the Official Dynastic History of the Ming, juan 82. These are the prescriptive figures for soldiers with families. Those without families received half this amount; those whose sentences had been reduced from execution to service as soldiers also received smaller amounts of rice and salt. See also Kawagoe Yasuhiro, "Dai Min kaiten ni mieru Mindai eijokan no getsuryogaku o megutte," Kyuko 15 (1989): 37-42.

(102.) For cases of officers abusing subordinate soldiers, see HMTF, juan 3, pp. 62, 67, 77. See also Wu, "Mingdai de junbing," p. 169; Chen, "Mingdai weisuo de jun," p. 188-89; Wang, "Mingdai de junhu," p. 355; Yu, Mingdai junhu shixi zhidu, pp. 155. On some of the economic difficulties facing the soldiers of Hejian Prefecture, see 1540 Hejian fuzhi, 11.8b.

(103.) See HMTF juan 3, pp. 56, 57, 62, 77. See also Wu, "Mingdai de junbing," p. 169; Xie, "Mingdai weisuo zhidu xingshuai kao," pp. 216-7; Chen, "Mingdai weisuo de jun," p. 194. Ray Huang has described the Beijing garrisons as a "huge labor gang" (Taxation in 16th Century China, p. 58, also p. 68).

(104.) HMTF juan 3, pp. 59-60, 62. See also Wang, "Mingdai de junhu," p. 357; Li Longqian, "Mingdai junhu zhidu qianlun," Beijing shiyuan xuebao, 1 (1982): 46-56, esp. 48-50. Recent scholarship has demonstrated that important changes occurred in the numbers and functions of supernumerary soldiers over the course of the dynasty. For a detailed analysis of the role of supernumerary soldiers in the garrisons of Jiangxi province, see Yu Zhijia, "Mingdai Jiangxi weisuo junyi de yanbian," Zhongyang yanjiuyuan shiyusuo yanjiusuo jikan 68.1 (1997): 1-51. For their role in supplementing Ming military strength, especially along the northern border, see So In-born, "Minchuki no Hokuben boei-ei to gunko-zaiei no yorei o chushin toshite," Shukan Toyogaku 78 (1997): 81-103.

(105.) While in her Mingdai junhu shixi zhidu, Yu Zhijia also noted the misery of hereditary military households, in subsequent articles, Yu examined marriage patterns, success in the examination system, and official appointments, arguing that there was a considerable range in the fortunes of these military households. See "Mindai gunko no shakaiteki chii ni tsuite: gunko ni kon-in o megutte," Mindaishi kenkyu 18 (1990): 7-32; "Mindai gunko no shakaireki chii no tsuite: kakyo to ninkan ni oire," Toyo gakuho 71.3-4 (1990): 91-131.

(106.) Yu Zhijia, "Shilun zupuzhong suojian de Mingdai junhu," Zhongyang yanjiuyuan lishi yuyan yanjiusuo jikan 57.4 (1986): 635-67; Li Longqian, "Mingdai junhu zhidu qianlun."

(107.) Gu Cheng, "Tan Mingdai de weiji," Beijing shifan daxue 5 (1989): 61.

(108.) Some long-term residents of Beijing sought to avoid these obligations by falsely claiming to be military households (Da Ming huidian, 19.29a).

(109.) HMTF juan 34, pp. 35-36.

(110.) Zhu Guozhen, Yongchuang xiaopin (1621: rpt. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1959), juan 32, pp. 771-2. The soldiers are said to have presented at least one to eunuchs within he imperial palace, calling it "The Miraculous Method of Transmigration." They were handsomely rewarded.

(111.) 1549 Guangping fuzhi 11.11b. The military colonists were from Shenyang Guard. This region had experienced bad harvests at the time, resulting in land flight. This almost certainly exacerbated whatever existing tensions there might have been between the military colonists and other local residents.

(112.) 1549 Guangping fuzhi 4.12b-13a. The editors of the 1607 Baoding fuzhi wrote with similar despair of the descendants of households relocated from Shanxi province to Mancheng during the early fifteenth century period. They maintained that the relocated households had originally been criminals and were called "the recalcitrant people." This example suggests that the reputation for unruliness attached to the military camps and colonists may be due to the fact that they were not "natives." Tensions do seem to have existed between the "newcomers" and the natives.

(113.) 1607 Baodingfuzhi 16.11a-b, p.398. The editors' descriptions of soldiers and colonists stationed in other counties are equally unflattering.

(114.) 1549 Guangping fuzhi, 16.7b.

(115.) Qiu Wenzhuang gong ji, rpt. in Huang Ming jingshi wen bian 75.8a-b. The complaint was raised again by Gui Yong in a 1525 memorial (SZSL 50.2a).

(116.) Jiajing Tongzhou zhi, juan 8. For accusations that commanding officers in the prefectures of Daming, Shunde, and Guangping sold abandoned military lands and harbored people fleeing the household system, see Xianzong shilu (1471-1-9) 86.6a. Problems of housing shortages for troops in Beijing had been raised as early as 1437 (YZSL 28.2b-3a).

(117.) HMTF, juan 34, vol. 2, p. 59. The Grand Coordinator of Baoding made similar complaints about military units and banditry in 1515 (WZSL 129.5)b.

(118.) Chen Hongmo, Jishi jiwen, juan 4, p. 93. The early Qing historian Gu Yingtai found Chen's comment striking enough to include it verbatim in his narrative of the 1510 Rebellion. See Cu, Mingshi jishi benmo (1658: rpt. Taibei, 1985), juan 45, p. 463. The Grand Coordinator of Shandong, Yuan jie also noted the potential danger of mixed military and commoner populations in Dezhou. See Xianzong shilu (1468-3-18), 51 .8a. On this question in Daming and Zhending prefectures, see XZSL 68.6b. Similar complaints were made in 1480 about the mixed populations of Tongzhou (HMTF, juan 34, vol. 2, p. 43).

(119.) HMTF, juan 34, vol. 2, p. 59. Those who fenced the goods were called "receivers" (jie shou or "short-footed buyers" (shoumai duanjiao) (HMTF, juan 34, vol. 2, pp. 58-59).

(120.) A 1469-10-27 report claims that a group of 22 men led by a soldier of the Anterior Daning Guard roamed between Dongba and Xiba near Beijing, destroying homes, seizing goods, and mutilating those who incurred their wrath. It is reported that they cut off the hands and feet of their victims at the slightest provocation (Xianzong shilu 71.6b).

(121.) This is most often seen in expressions like "commoners and military [households] lived interspersed with each other. Bandits appeared." For an example from Darning and Dingzhou in the Northern Metropolitan Area, see XZSL 68.6b. For an example from the vicinity of Beijing, see XZSL 21.4a-b. For a table giving the number of agricultural lands of selected guards in the Capital Region, see Wang Yuquan, Mingdai de juntun, pp. 191-92. The lands of the two Yongqing guards were spread over at least thirteen different counties.

(122.) XZSL 25.5a-b.

(123.) HMTF, juan 33, vol. 2, p. 24.

(124.) HMTF, juan 33, p. 25; Xianzong shilu (1471-1-9) 86.6b. It was suggested that the inhabitants of military camps be forced to live together, that registers be posted alongside of the gates of households, and that the inhabitants be organized into units of ten households. In cases of banditry or conflicts with commoner households, patrols drawn from the mutual responsibility units (huo jia) were to apprehend the offending parties. In August 1515, the Grand Coordinator of Baoding recommended that a "colony elder" (tun lao) be selected from every military colony and that households be organized into units often from which a "headman' (zong jia) would be picked. The Grand Coordinator felt that bandits were very frequently harbored in the camps and believed that mutual security units would eliminate the problem. See WZSL 129.5b.

(125.) It is hardly surprising that local civil officials harbored suspicions of their military colleagues, a sentiment we see in the warning that magistrates should not socialize overly much with local military officers for fear they might grow dangerous and violent under the influence of alcohol (Jiang Tingbi, Guozi xiansheng Pushan Jiang Gong zhengxun [1560], p. 251; text reproduced in Nimick, p. 251.)

(126.) HMTF, juan 2, pp. 38-40. For more on Shanxi garrison lands located in the Northern Metropolitan Area, see Wang Yuquan, Mingdai de juntun, p. 193, n. 4. It was not unusual for the jurisdiction of a Regional Military Commission not to coincide with that of the Provincial Administration Commission. See Xie, "Mingdai weisuo zhidu xingshuai kao," pp. 188-191; Tan Qixiang, "Shi Mingdai dusi weisuo zhidu," Yugong banyue kan 3. 10 (1935): 459-64.

(127.) HMTF, juan 2, vol. 1, pp. 38-40. The Assistant Chiliarch later claimed that magistrate Liu had unexpectedly arrived at the head of a contingent of over 500 huo jia who surrounded the camp. In this version, the Assistant Chiliarch duly placed Duan under custody and incarcerated him in the guard jail after having been informed of Duan's crimes. In this account, however, the magistrate mysteriously never forwarded orders that Duan be turned over to him. In the end, Duan was executed, the Assistant Chiliarch demoted, and the Prince of Shen criticized for his inability to control his troops.

(128.) See Kawagoe Yasuhiro, "Mindai hangun banjoko," Chuo daigaku kiyo 86. 22(1977): 133-62.

(129.) Kawagoe (1977), p. 138. The second figure is derived from materials on pp. 139-40 and only includes men from Henan, Shandong, and the Metropolitan Area, the largest contributors to the rotational forces.

(130.) YZSL 222.4a; 222.1b.

(131.) HMTF, juan 34, vol. 2, p.39. For an example of similar complaints in the 1420's, see Yu Jideng, Diangu jiwen (in Jifu congshu, no. 14, Baibu congshu jicheng, no. 94) 8.1b.

(132.) HMTF, juan 45, vol. 2, p. 295.

(133.) HMTF, juan 45, vol. 2, p. 296.

(134.) XZSL 215.6a; Tan Qian, Guo que (Ca 1653; rpt. Beijing, 1988), p. 2820.

(135.) XZSL 72.4a-b. On fiscal difficulties during the last two reigns of the 15th century, see Li Shaoqiang, "Shilun Ming Xiaozong de fushui zhengce," Beifang luncong, 5 (1992): 62-66; Zheng Kecheng, Mingdai zhengzheng tanyuan, pp. 287-97.

(136.) For example, see Zhu Ji's 1468 report on banditry in which he notes that many were from military units (Xianzong shilu 55.2b-3a; HMTF, juan 33, vol. 2, pp. 20-21). Also Xianzong shilu (1468-5-16) 53.9a, (1469-10-27)71 .6b; HMTF, juan 35, vol. 2, pp. 723-24 (a 1490 case); XZSL (1504-6-7) 211.10b-11a.

(137.) This memorial by the famed statesman Ma Wensheng (1426-15 10) is recorded in the XZSL 28.12a.

(138.) For instance, in an important memorial about the rampant banditry in the Northern Metropolitan Area in 1510, Yang Yiqing proposed a number of strategies first advocated by Su Shi and Qin Guan of the Song dynasty (960-1279). For details, see Robinson, Bandits, its, Eunuchs, and the Son of Heaven.

(139.) On the bao jia during the Song, see Brian McKnight, "Urban Crime and Urban Security in Sung China," Chinese Culture 29. 4 (December 1988): 23-66, esp. pp. 43-44, 48-50. For more on the bao jia system in the Ming, see Sakai Tadao, "Mindai zen chuki no hoka sei ni tsuite," in Shimuzu Hakushi tsuito kinen, pp.577-610; Chen Baoliang, "Mingdai de baojia yu huojia," Mingshi yanjiu3 (1993): 59-66, 134. On the mutual security organizations of Ming Beijing, see Joanne Wakeland, "Metropolitan Administration in Ming China; Sixteenth Century Beijing," pp. 250-60. For an account of the role of detailed census records in maintaining order in Beijing during the Qing period, see Alison Dray-Novey, "Spatial Order and Police in Imperial Beijing," Journal of Asian Studies 52. 4 (November 1993): 897-902.

(140.) On the use of troops in the policing of the Song capital of Kaifeng, see McKnight, "Urban Crime and Urban Security in Sung China."

(141.) On the community covenants as a way to shore up local order during the mid-Ming, see Zhu Honglin (Chu Hung-lam), "Mingdai zhongqi fangshe zhian chongjian lixiang zhi zhanxian," Chungguk hakpo 32 (1992): 87-100.

(142.) XZSL 21.4a-b. In another undated memorial, Yu Zijun suggested door-to-door inspections to rout out criminals and the establishment of citizen patrols (huo fu). See Yu, "Yan bu dao zei shi," rpt. in Huang Xun, ed. Huang Ming mingchen jingji lu (1551; photographic reprint of copy held in Naikaku bunko), 40.5a.

(143.) For Hongzhi period Daming, see Zhang Xuan, Xiyuan wenjian lu, juan 96, cited in Chen, "Mingdai de baojia yu huofu," p. 60; for a general call during the late Zhengde period see, SZSL 6. 10a; for late Zhengde period Beijing, see SZSL 8.15b; for Jiajing period Beijing, see SZSL 50.21a; for Shunde during the late 1530s, see SZSL 218.3b; Xu Guo, "Tiaoshang midao fanglue," in Huang Ming jingshi wenbian, 392.8b-10a.

(144.) For example, see Xianzong shilu (1466-5-15) 29.1a, where a Regional Military Commissioner and a censor were appointed to oversee the area from Tongzhou to Linqing, while a highly-ranked officer of the Imperial Guard and a second censor were ordered to supervise the eradication of bandits from Linqing to Yizhen.

(145.) Da Ming huidian 228.9a; Tongzhou zhilue 2.8a.

(146.) Chen Quanzhi, Pengchuang rilu, "Huanyu," (1565; rpt. Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1985), 1.22b.

(147.) Similar measures were implemented by the Roman empire. See Shaw, "Banditry in the Roman Empire," p. 12.

(148.) YZSL 272.3a. Widespread flooding had been reported at the time in the prefectures of Shuntian, Hejian, and Baoding (YZSL, 272.2a).

(149.) Xianzong shilu (1468-5-15) 53.8a-b; Da Ming huidian 136.2a. The banditry should be understood in the context of widespread drought and massive crop failure in Shandong, Henan, the Southern and Northern Metropolitan Areas, and Huguang (Xianzong shilu 53.7b, 53.10b).

(150.) XZSL 10.6b.

(151.) XZSL 17.8b--9a.

(152.) XZSL

(153.) Da Ming huidian 136.8a.

(154.) Shuilu lucheng 6.5 a. This work was originally published by Huang Bian in 1570 under the title Yitong lucheng tuji. In 1617, it was republished by Shang Jun under the title Shuilu lucheng. For bibliographic details, see Timothy Brooks, Geographical Sources for Ming-Qing History, (Ann Arbor, 1988), p. 38.

(155.) See Robinson, Bandits, Eunuchs, and the Son of Heaven. For a biographical note, see Dictionary of Ming Biography, pp. 1516-19.

(156.) Huang Liuhong, Fuhui quanshu (1694; rpt. Tokyo: Kyuko shoten, 1973), For further discussion of the management of violence and the recruitment of men of force into the army, into local government forces, and into gentry-led militias, see Robinson, Bandits, Eunuchs, and the son of Heaven.

(157.) Punishment could be avoided if 1) at least half of the accused were apprehended or 2) the most wanted among the accused were captured. See Mingdai luli huibian, vol. 2, p. 959; Staunton, pp. 420-21.

(158.) Mingdai luli huibian, vol. 2, p. 969.

(159.) For information on these "provisional" laws, see Sato Kuninori, "Minritsu, Minrei to Dako oyobi Monjorei," in Shiga shuzo, ed., Chugoku hoseishi-kihon shiryo no kenkyu (Tokyo, 1993), pp. 435-72.

(160.) Mingdai luli huibian, p. 971.

(161.) One might also note that grain paid in fines in many areas of the Capital Region and the Northern Metropolitan Area was transported to garrisons that guarded strategic garrisons in North China. See YZSL, 223.13b.

(162.) For instance, see the February 12,1488 memorial by a Vice-director of the Ministry of Revenue (XZSL 9.9a). He recommended that except in very important cases, intendants (guanxiao) from the Eastern Depot, a feared intelligence organization (complete with torture chambers), should not be dispatched outside the capital.

(163.) See Ding Yi, Mingdai tewu zhengzhi (Beijing, 1950), pp. 36-8.

(164.) See a 1452-12-24 entry of the YZSL in which it was announced that the offenses of bandits who surrendered and turned their fellow criminals in to authorities would be pardoned and that they would receive half of the family assets of those who failed to turn themselves in (YZSL 223.7a).

(165.) YZSL 330.14.

(166.) Xianzong shilu 150.2a.

(167.) Philip Kuhn has remarked on the variety of realities that the term tuan lian local defense comprehended during the first half of the nineteenth century. See "The T'uanlien Local Defense System at the Time of the Taiping Rebellion," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 27 (1967): 218-55.

(168.) Other efforts at maintaining local order involved organizing residents into li jia, bao jia, and community compacts (xiang yue). On the bao jia during the first half of the Ming, see Sakai Tadao, "Mindai zenchflki no hokasei ni tsuite." On the community compacts as attempts to restore social order during the mid-Ming, see Zhu Honglin (Chu Hung-lam), "Mingdai zhongqi fangshe zhian chongjian lixiang zhi zhanxian,"

(169.) Huang has also noted the very limited role of regular wei suo units during the anti-piracy campaigns of the mid-16th century (Taxation in 16th Century China, p. 292).

(170.) For details on the rebellion and its suppression, see Robinson, Bandits, Eunuchs, and the Son of Heaven.

(171.) On the evolution of the Ming militia, see Liang Fangzhong, "Mingdai de minbing," Zhongguo shehui jingjishi jikan 5. 2 (1937): 200-34, reprinted in Wu Zhihe ed. Mingshi yanjiu luncong, (Taibei, 1982), vol. 1, pp. 243-76. Saeki Tomi's "Mi Shin jidai no minso ni tsuite" discusses the incorporation of the "people's stalwarts" into the corvee service system from the mid-16th century (Toyoshi kenkyu 15. 4, pp. 33-64). As Mote and others have noted, for a period of time, the people's stalwarts overshadowed regular guard troops in military significance. In time, however, the people's stalwarts lost their effectiveness and were partially supplanted by mercenaries (Wu, "Mingdai de junbing," pp. 147-49, 182-90); Li Du, "Mingdai mubing zhidu jianlun," Wen shi zhe 2 (1986): 62-68. It is important to keep in mind that the use of guard forces, militia troops, and mercenaries had considerable overlap during the 15th, 16th, and early 17th centuries. As Liang notes, during periods of crisis, the central government often incorporated local militias into national armies (p. 244).

(172.) Saeki Tomi argues that the commutation into silver of the militia corvee service had begun by at least the Hongzhi period (1488-1505) and had become widespread by the Jiajing period (l522-66)(pp. 48, 53-62).

(173.) This follows secondary scholarship which argues that the terms kuai shou, ji bing, dashou, ma kuai shou and others could refer to varieties of local militias (mi bing). See Liang, p. 258; Sakai Tadao, "Mindai zenchuki no hokasei ni suite," in Shimizu Hakushi tsuito kinen Mindaishi ronso, pp. 577-610, esp. p. 601; Saeki Tomi, "Mm-Shin jidai no minso ni tsuite," Toyoshi kenkyu 15. 4 (1957): 33-64, esp. p. 41. This description finds corraboration in the following Ming sources: 1522 Zhangde fuzhi 8.42a; 1600 Dongchang fuzhi 13.6a; WZSL 61.8a-b.

(174.) Those based at yamen offices included: kuai shou, bing kuai, ma kuai shou, and mi kuai. Those who served in the local constabularies (xun jian si ) were commonly called gong bing. For a more detailed description of these posts in the Ming, see Miao Quanji, Mingdai xuli (Taibei, 1969), pp. 74-80. Miao notes that by the late fifteenth century, gong bing often functioned as nothing more than yamen runners (p. 76). According to Miao, the general trend was true for people's stalwarts and kaui shou as well, though they retained more of their security functions (p. 77). By the proceeding Qing dynasty, kuai shou generally refered to yamen runners. See Ch'u T'ung-tsu, Local Government in China during the Ching (Cambridge, 1962), pp. 57-70, 237, n 39.

(175.) Ming shi, 6.75.1852. See also, Charles Hucker, Dictionary of Official Tides in Imperial China, p. 254.

(176.) There were often various other forces such as the "local sons soldiers" (zi di bing) and the "great men (da han)" of Bazhou. The local sons soldiers were described as those skilled in horseback riding and archery selected from among the people, while the great men were those of great height and strong limb. The great men were originally organized in a "past year" because of Mongol incursions, probably a reference to the events of 1449 (1548 Bazhou zhi 4.7b). Assistant Prefects were commonly charged with bandit apprehension. According to the Wanli edition of the Da Ming huidian, Assistant Prefects and Assistant Magistrates responsible for arresting brigands were added to local governments in the Hongzhi period (136.19a, la). One of these officials is listed for each of the districts of Hejian Prefecture, and in most cases they were called "bandit apprehension officials (xun bu guan)." See 1540 Hejian fuzhi l1.10a--b. However, the number of these positions fluctuated. For instance, on 1507-3-13 and again on 1507-4-17, the number of bandit-apprhension officials was cut back (WZSL 22.12a--b,

(177.) See Robinson, Bandits, Eunuchs, and the Son of Heaven.

(178.) Chen Baoliang, "Mingdai de minbing yu xiangbing," Zhongguoshi yanjiu 1 (1994): 85-87; "Mingdai xiangcun de fangyu tizhi," Qi Lu xuekan 6 (1993): 104-105.

(179.) Gui E, "Jin yuditu shu," Gui Wenxiangji, rpt. in Huang Ming jingshi wenbian 182.3b. Gui's comments are included verbatim in Chen Quanzhi's notes on geography in his 1565 Pengchuang rilu, "Huanyu," 1.21b.

(180.) According to the Bazhou Gazetteer, the region also suffered from torrential down-pours and flooding in 1523 and 1525 (1548 Bazhou zhi 9.2b).

(181.) 1548 Bazhou zhi, 8.32a.

(182.) Shen Defu, Wanli yehuobian, p. 757.

(183.) Yang Guoxiang, et al. Mingshilu leizuan: Beijing shiliaozuan (Wuhan, 1992), pp.457-65.

(184.) Qiu Zhonglin. "Mingdai Beijing dushi shenghuo yu zhi-an de zhuanbian," Jiuzhou xuekan 5. 2 (October 1992): 49-106.

(185.) Roland Higgins, "Piracy and Coastal Defense in the Ming Period, Governmental Responses to Coastal Disturbances, 1523-49" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1981); Higgins, "Pirates in Gowns and Caps: Gentry Law-Breaking in the Mid-Ming," Ming Studies 10 (1980): 30-37; Merrilyn Fitzpatrick, "Local Administration in Northern Chekiang and the Response to the Pirate Invasions of 1553-1556," (Ph.D. dissertation, Australian National University, 1976); Charles Hucker, "Hu Tsung-hsien's Campaign Against Hsu Hai, 1556," in Chinese Ways in Warfare, eds. Frank Kierman and John Fairbank (Cambridge, 1974, pp. 273-307); Kwan-wai So, Japanese Piracy in Ming China During the 16th Century (Ann Arbor, 1975). See also: James Geiss, "The Chia-ching Reign, 1522-1566," in Cambridge History of China, Volume 7, The Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644, pp. 490-505; "Thomas Nimick, "Ch'i Chi-kuang and I-wu County," Ming Studies 34 (July 1995): 17-29.

(186.) For a discussion of international trade on society in Fujian, see Chang Pin-Tsun, "Chinese Maritime Trade: The Case of Sixteenth Century Fu-chien (Fukien)," (Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1983).

(187.) For a discussion of this question during the Song period, see Peter K. Bol, "Government, Society, and State: On the Political Visions of Ssu-ma Kuang and Wang An-shih," in Robert Hymes and Conrad Schirokauer, eds., Ordering the World: Approaches to State and Society in Sung Dynasty China, (Berkeley, 1993), pp. 128-92.
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Author:Robinson, David M.
Publication:Journal of Social History
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Date:Mar 22, 2000
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