Imperial China, 900-1800 / Edition 1

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Overview

This is a history of China for the 900-year time span of the late imperial period. A senior scholar of this epoch, F. W. Mote highlights the personal characteristics of the rulers and dynasties and probes the cultural theme of Chinese adaptations to recurrent alien rule. No other work provides a similar synthesis: generational events, personalities, and the spirit of the age combine to yield a comprehensive history of the civilization, not isolated but shaped by its relation to outsiders.

This vast panorama of the civilization of the largest society in human history reveals much about Chinese high and low culture, and the influential role of Confucian philosophical and social ideals. Throughout the Liao Empire, the world of the Song, the Mongol rule, and the early Qing through the Kangxi and Qianlong reigns, culture, ideas, and personalities are richly woven into the fabric of the political order and institutions. This is a monumental work that will stand among the classic accounts of the nature and vibrancy of Chinese civilization before the modern period.

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Editorial Reviews

University of Kansas

A personal meditation on the later imperial history of China by an author who has studied and taught the subject all his life and whose knowledge of it is truly formidable. It is written in a readable, accessible style that attracts the reader's sustained attention.
— John W. Dardess

Haravrd University

A major contribution to our present literature on the general historiography of late Imperial China. Not only is it eminently accessible to a wide nonspecialized intellectual public, it also provides a major corrective within the field to some of the tendencies that have dominated the writing of Chinese history. Mote has highly cogent things to say about the nature of what has been called the 'gentry' in China and highly relevant questions to raise about the notion of a demographic explosion in eighteenth-century China, and he examines many of the prevailing abstract conceptions that dominate the field. Yet he vividly demonstrates how limited our effort has been to explore in depth the vast documentary materials available to us, which are supposed to provide the 'empirical data' for our models, paradigms, and structural theories. Mote's major contribution is his detailed account of the growing complexity of relations between the Chinese state and the surrounding East Asian world during the period 900-1800.
— Benjamin I. Schwartz

Chinese Historical Review

An outstanding feature that distinguishes this book from similar works is the author's effort to readdress the imbalance in traditional historiography with its lopsided focus on the political and geographic center of the realm. He does a wonderful job of reconstructing the history of such historically neglected regimes as Khitan-Liao, Jurchen-Jin, and Tangut-Western Xia, from the perspective of the Other...What I find most praiseworthy is the lucid, elegant expository style of writing. In spite of the wealth of knowledge the author clearly possesses about traditional China, he chooses to cover in depth a select number of topics—personages, events, institutions, etc.—in a language that is understandable to the average man in the street, without relying on opaque verbosity. Consequently, the book is likely to leave a profound and lasting impact on the reader in areas it focuses on.
— Victor Cunrui Xiong

John W. Dardess
A personal meditation on the later imperial history of China by an author who has studied and taught the subject all his life and whose knowledge of it is truly formidable. It is written in a readable, accessible style that attracts the reader's sustained attention.
Benjamin I. Schwartz
A major contribution to our present literature on the general historiography of late Imperial China. Not only is it eminently accessible to a wide nonspecialized intellectual public, it also provides a major corrective within the field to some of the tendencies that have dominated the writing of Chinese history. Mote has highly cogent things to say about the nature of what has been called the 'gentry' in China and highly relevant questions to raise about the notion of a demographic explosion in eighteenth-century China, and he examines many of the prevailing abstract conceptions that dominate the field. Yet he vividly demonstrates how limited our effort has been to explore in depth the vast documentary materials available to us, which are supposed to provide the 'empirical data' for our models, paradigms, and structural theories. Mote's major contribution is his detailed account of the growing complexity of relations between the Chinese state and the surrounding East Asian world during the period 900-1800.
Chinese Historical Review - Victor Cunrui Xiong
An outstanding feature that distinguishes this book from similar works is the author's effort to readdress the imbalance in traditional historiography with its lopsided focus on the political and geographic center of the realm. He does a wonderful job of reconstructing the history of such historically neglected regimes as Khitan-Liao, Jurchen-Jin, and Tangut-Western Xia, from the perspective of the Other...What I find most praiseworthy is the lucid, elegant expository style of writing. In spite of the wealth of knowledge the author clearly possesses about traditional China, he chooses to cover in depth a select number of topics--personages, events, institutions, etc.--in a language that is understandable to the average man in the street, without relying on opaque verbosity. Consequently, the book is likely to leave a profound and lasting impact on the reader in areas it focuses on.
University of Kansas
A personal meditation on the later imperial history of China by an author who has studied and taught the subject all his life and whose knowledge of it is truly formidable. It is written in a readable, accessible style that attracts the reader's sustained attention.
— John W. Dardess
Chinese Historical Review
An outstanding feature that distinguishes this book from similar works is the author's effort to readdress the imbalance in traditional historiography with its lopsided focus on the political and geographic center of the realm. He does a wonderful job of reconstructing the history of such historically neglected regimes as Khitan-Liao, Jurchen-Jin, and Tangut-Western Xia, from the perspective of the Other...What I find most praiseworthy is the lucid, elegant expository style of writing. In spite of the wealth of knowledge the author clearly possesses about traditional China, he chooses to cover in depth a select number of topics--personages, events, institutions, etc.--in a language that is understandable to the average man in the street, without relying on opaque verbosity. Consequently, the book is likely to leave a profound and lasting impact on the reader in areas it focuses on.
— Victor Cunrui Xiong
Haravrd University
A major contribution to our present literature on the general historiography of late Imperial China. Not only is it eminently accessible to a wide nonspecialized intellectual public, it also provides a major corrective within the field to some of the tendencies that have dominated the writing of Chinese history. Mote has highly cogent things to say about the nature of what has been called the 'gentry' in China and highly relevant questions to raise about the notion of a demographic explosion in eighteenth-century China, and he examines many of the prevailing abstract conceptions that dominate the field. Yet he vividly demonstrates how limited our effort has been to explore in depth the vast documentary materials available to us, which are supposed to provide the 'empirical data' for our models, paradigms, and structural theories. Mote's major contribution is his detailed account of the growing complexity of relations between the Chinese state and the surrounding East Asian world during the period 900-1800.
— Benjamin I. Schwartz
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674012127
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 1128
  • Sales rank: 1,057,389
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 1.81 (d)

Meet the Author

F. W. Mote was Professor of Chinese History and Civilization, Emeritus, at Princeton University, the author of Intellectual Foundations of China, and the coeditor of several volumes of The Cambridge History of China.
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Table of Contents

Preface

Acknowledgments

PART ONE: CONQUEST DYNASTIES AND THE NORTHERN SONG, 900-1127

The Five Dynasties

Later Imperial China's Place in History

The Course of Five Dynasties History

The Eastward Shift of the Political Center

Simultaneous Developments in the Ten States

China and Inner Asia in Geographic and Historical Perspective

Abaoji

The Khitans and Their Neighbors

Ethnic Diversity and Language Community

The Lessons of History

The New Leader Emerges

The Significance of Khitan Acculturation

Abaoji Receives Yao Kun, Envoy of the Later Tang Dynasty

Building the Liao Empire

Succession Issues after Abaoji

The Meaning of the Early Liao Succession Crises

The Khitan Inner Asian Tribal Empire

Liao-Korean Relations

Expansion into North China

Liao-Song Relations

Liao Civilization

Multicultural Adaptations

Khitan Society

Patterns of Acculturation

Buddhism in Khitan Life

Interpretations of Liao Success

Creating the Song Dynasty

The Vigor of the Later Zhou and the Founding of the Song

On Being the Emperor in Tenth-Century China

Governing China

The Military Problem

The World of Ideas in Northern Song China

The Man of the Age: Ouyang Xiu

The Course of a Song Dynasty Official Career

The Civil Service Examination System

The Social Impact of the Song Examination System

Political Reform and Political Thought

Neo-Confucian Political Thought

Dimensions of Northern Song Life

High Culture

The Example of Su Shi

The New Elite and Song High Culture

Religion in Song Life

Song Society

Origins of the Xi Xia State

The Tangut People: Names and Ethnic Identities

Early History of the Tangut Tribal People

The Tanguts Come into the Song Orbit

Yuan-hao Proclaims the Xi Xia Dynasty

The Xi Xia as an Imperial Dynasty

PART TWO: CONQUEST DYNASTIES AND THE SOUTHERN SONG, 1127-1279

The "Wild Jurchens" Erupt into History

Aguda's Challenge

The End of the Liao Dynasty

The Northern Song Falls to the Jurchens

Who Were These Jurchens?

Explaining the Jurchens' Success

The Jurchen State and Its Cultural Policy

The Conquerors Turn to Governing

The Period of Dual Institutions, 1115-1135

The Era of Centralization, 1135-1161

The Period of Nativist Reaction, 1161-1208

The End of the Jin Dynasty, 1208-1234

The Later Xi Xia State

Xi Xia in the Era of the Jin Dynasty, 1115-1227

The Crisis of the "Partition of the State"

The Destruction of the Xi Xia State

The Tangut Achievement

Xia Buddhism

Trends of Change under Jin Alien Rule

Divisions: North and South, Chinese and Non-Chinese

Jurchen Dominance

The Impact of the Civil Service Examinations

High Culture during the Jin Dynasty

Economic Life under the Jin

The Southern Song and Chinese Survival

A Fleeing PrinceCA New Emperor

War versus Peace

Patterns of High Politics after the Treaty of 1141

Chinese Civilization and the Song Achievement

New Social Factors

Elite Lives and Song High Culture

Confucian Thinkers

Other Kinds of Elite Lives

Some Generalizations about the Song Elite

Southern Song Life—A Broader View

Calculating Song China's Population

Governing at the Local Level

Paying for Government

Status in the Chinese Population

Urban and Rural

Families, Women, and Children

VA Poet's Observations

A Mid-Thirteenth-Century Overview

The Heritage of the Liao, Xi Xia, and Jin Periods

The System of Ritualized Interstate Relations

The Growing Scope of International Trade

Cultural Interaction

PART THREE: CHINA AND THE MONGOL WORLD

The Career of the Great Khan Chinggis

Backgrounds of Mongol History

The Ethnic Geography of Inner Asia in the Late Twelfth Century

Mongol Nomadic Economy and Social Life

The Mongols Emerge into History

The Youth of Temüjin

Chinggis Khan as Nation Builder

Forging the Mongol World Empire, 1206-1259

The Nearer Horizons of Empire, 1206-1217

The First Campaign to the West, 1218-1225

Chinggis Khan, the Man

The Second Campaign to the West, 1236-1241

Mongol Adaptations to China under Chinggis and Ögödei

Möngke Khan and the Third Campaign to the West

Relations among the Four Khanates

Khubilai Khan Becomes Emperor of China

The Early Life of Khubilai

Khubilai and His Chinese Advisers before 1260

As Möngke's Field General in China

Maneuvering to Become the Great Khan

The Great Khan Khubilai Becomes Emperor of China

The Conquest of the Southern Song, 1267-1279

The War against Khaidu

Khubilai's Later Years

Khubilai Khan's Successors, 1294-1370

China under Mongol Rule

Yuan Government

Managing Society and Staffing the Government

Religions

China's People under Mongol Rule

The Yuan Cultural Achievement

PART FOUR: THE RESTORATION OF NATIVE RULE UNDER THE MING, 1368-1644

From Chaos toward a New Chinese Order

Disintegration

Competitors for Power Emerge

Rival Contenders, 1351-1368

Zhu Yuanzhang, Boy to Young Man

Zhu Yuanzhang Builds His Ming Dynasty

Learning to Be an Emperor

Setting the Pattern of His Dynasty

Constructing a Capital and a Government

The Enigma of Zhu Yuanzhang

Civil War and Usurpation, 1399-1402

The New Era

The Thought of Fang Xiaoru: What Might Have Been

From Prince to Emperor

The "Second Founding" of the Ming Dynasty

Ming Chengzu's Imprint on Ming Governing

The Eunuch Establishment and the Imperial Bodyguard

Defending Throne and State

Securing China's Place in the Asian World

The New Capital

Ming China in the Fifteenth Century

Successors to the Yongle Emperor

The Mechanics of Government

The Grand Canal in Ming Times

The Changing World of the Sixteenth Century

Emperor Wuzong, 1505-1521

Emperor Shizong's Accession

The Rites Controversy

Emperor Shizong and Daoism

The Emperor Shizong and His Officials

Wang Yangming and Sixteenth-Century Confucian Thought

Ming China's Borders

Border Zones, Zones of Interaction

Tension and Peril on the Northern Borders

Tibet and the Western Borders

The "Soft Border" of the Chinese South

The Maritime Borders of Eastern China

Late Ming Political Decline, 1567-1627

The Brief Reign of Emperor Muzong, 1567-1572

Zhang Juzheng's Leadership and the Wanli Reign

The Wanli Emperor's Successors

The Lively Society of the Late Ming

The Population of Ming China

The Organization of Rural Society

Ming Cities, Towns, and Urban People: The Question of Capitalism

Late Ming Elite Culture

The Course of Ming Failure

Launching the Chongzhen Reign: Random Inadequacies, Persistent Hopes

The Manchu Invaders

The "Roving Bandits"

Beijing, Spring 1644

PART FIVE: CHINA AND THE WORLD IN EARLY QING TIMES

Alien Rule Returns

Beijing: The City Ravaged

The Drama at Shanhai Guan, April-May

Beijing Becomes the New Qing Capital

The Shunzhi Emperor, 1644-1662

The Southern Ming Challenge to Qing Hegemony, 1644-1662

The Manchu Offensive

VThe Longwu Regime: Fuzhou, July 1645-October 1646

VMing Loyalist Activity after 1646

The Kangxi Emperor: Coming of Age

Difficult Beginnings

Rebellion, 1673-1681

The Conquest of Taiwan

Ming Loyalism and Intellectual Currents in the Early Qing

The Kangxi Reign: The Emperor and His Empire

Banner Lands and the Manchu Migration into China

Recruitment and the Examination System

The Mongols on the Northern Borders

Manchu/Qing Power and the Problem of Tibet

Court Factions

The Succession Crisis

The Yongzheng Emperor as Man and Ruler

Imperial Style, Political Substance

Changing the Machinery of Government

Other Governing Measures

Military Campaigns and Border Policies

Population Growth and Social Conditions

Taxation and the Yongzheng Reforms

Splendor and Degeneration, 1736-1799

Changing Assessments

Hongli

Political Measures

Cultural Control Measures

A Late Flowering of Thought and Learning

The Qianlong Emperor's Military Campaigns

VChina in the Eighteenth Century

China's Legacy in a Changing World

The Background of China's International Relations

Mutual Recognition

Economic Interactions

Broadened Horizons of Religion, Philosophy, and Practical Knowledge

Diplomatic and Military Threats

An Old Civilization in a New World

Appendix: Conversion Table, Pinyin to Wade-Giles

Notes

Bibliography

Index

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2006

    Impressive and informative compilation of imperial Chinese history

    This nearly thousand page book successfully manages to summarize imperial Chinese history from the formation of the 'Five Dynasties' (actually about ten) to the end of the Qianlong emperor's reign in 1799. The author is F.W. Mote, a professor emeritus of Chinese history and civilization at Princeton. Mote's focii in the book are on all the emperors and other significant historical personalities, the structure of imperial governments, social organization, philosophical systems, warfare, and culture. This book includes the histories of the 'Five Dynasties', the Northern Song, the Liao, the Jin, the Southern Song, the Xi Xia, the Yuan, the Ming, and finally the Qing. Despite the massive scope of this book, Mote does an excellent job of penetrating the character of each emperor and defining the events of his reign. Unlike some Chinese scholars, Mote refutes the theory of dynastic lifecycles. Instead, he argues that the rise and fall of dynasties is largely dependent on the individual leadership of each emperor. Regardless of dynastic age, vigorous emperors, such as the Yongzheng emperor, can successfully halt and turn around governmental decay. Another common presumption he refutes is the sudden rapid population increase during Qing times. The author presents a convincing case that this sudden population increase is actually accounted for by more accurate census taking during the late Qing versus early Qing/late Ming. In addition, the author presents the distinctive decline in human rights during the disastrous Mongol invasions and carried forward by both the Ming and Qing dynasties. Another unusual aspect of this book is the space given to non-Chinese dynastic empires, such as the Liao, the Jin, and the Xi Xia. The author contrasts the Liao empire's relatively successful strategy of remaining physically separate from their Chinese subjects and refusing to embark on a wholesale invasion of the entire Chinese lands with the Jin empire's rapid assimilation of its Jurchen people into Chinese society in less than 50 years, which largely resulted in the loss of a Jurchen national identity and effective governance. A similar, though less strongly pronounced, result is also presented during the Mongol occupation. Some other very interesting subjects which Mote discusses are the justification and operation of the Grand Canal, the great voyages of Admiral Zheng He, the problems of piracy, relations with Tibet, the annexation of southern tribes and lands, dynastic factional strife, eunuch governing powers, China's international trade (especially importation of silver from the Spanish), and China's treaty and tribute system with its neighbors. Also, of special interest are the concise biographies of the China's most fascinating emperors, such as Zhu Yuanzhang, Zhu Di, Prince Yinzhen, Kubilai Khan, Abaoji, and Aguda. He also profiles Chinggis Khan. The book contains tables for all the dynastic successions, a few maps, copious notes, and an excellent bibliography. The writing style, while not stirring, is nonetheless easily readable. The book's signal advantage is the wealth of information Professor Mote has compiled and clearly presented. With the book's 973 pages and estimated half a million words, most casual readers can expect to spend a few months with it. In summary, I learned an exceptional amount about imperial China, though I occasionally found the reading heavy going in places, especially during the discussions about religion and philosophy. I recommend this book to anyone wanting a comprehensive imperial history of China from the Northern Song to the mid-Qing.

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