Women, Property, and Confucian Reaction in Sung and Yuan China (960-1368)

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Overview

This book argues that the Mongol invasion of China in the thirteenth century precipitated a lasting transformation of marriage and property laws that deprived women of their property rights and reduced their legal and economic autonomy. It describes how indigenous social change combined with foreign invasion and cultural confrontation to bring laws more into line with the goals of the radical Confucian philosophers, who wished to curtail women's financial and personal autonomy. This book provides a reevaluation of the Mongol invasion and its influence on Chinese law and society, and presents a new look at the changing position of women in premodern China.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...an outstanding contribution to the social and legal history as well as gender studies of late imperial China. The author impressed me with her meticulous and exciting scholarship, the careful and solid presentation of findings, and the wealth of textual sources used...Birge's reinterpretation of the social, economic, and legal history of the Sung and Yuan dynasties is thought provoking and stimulating. It sets a standard that will be difficult to surpass, and it opens up new intellectual horizons. This is a profound and fine piece of scholarship. I rank it as one of the best and most original works I have read in years on the subject and highly recommend it." Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies

"...the author is the first to demonstrate how Mongol views of women and marriage customs coincided with the views of Learning the Way of the scholars and to suggest how a new consensus limiting women's property was forged in the Yuan and following periods." Journal of Chinese Religions

"...presents an immense amount of information from official and private sources." History

"The book is a path-breaking study.... The author displays an impressive command of both the changing intellectual/social context and the legal framework of the transformation in women's property rights that she documents.... Birge is judicious...." The Journal of Asian Studies

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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of Maps, Figures, and Tables
Chronology of Chinese Dynasties
Abbreviations
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Women and Property before the Sung: Evolution and Continuity 41
Chou Feudalism and Confucian Ideals 42
Han Dynasty Developments: Communal Living, Common Property 46
Dowry versus Betrothal Gifts 51
T'ang Inheritance and Property Law 53
2 Women and Property in the Sung: Legal Innovation in Changing Times 64
Sung Law and the Legal System 66
Transmission of Wealth to Women 76
Daughters and Sons in Family Divison 76
Daughters' Inheritance by Testament and Legal Protection of the Property of Minors 94
Inheritance by Daughters without Surviving Brothers 97
New Provisions for Daughters in Cut-off Households 98
Intervention of the State 104
Daughters and Posthumous Heirs 109
Women's Property within Marriage 113
Taking Property out of a Marriage after the Husband's Death 115
Remarriage and the Law 125
Separate Property within Marriage While the Husband Was Alive 127
Divorce 130
Disposition of Dowry When a Wife Died without Heirs 134
Conclusion: Property, Gender, and the Law 138
3 Women's Property and Confucian Reaction in the Sung 143
Patrilineality and Daughters' Inheritance 144
Opposition to Private Property within Marriage 150
Chu Hsi's Encouragement of Dowry Donation 151
Dowry Donation and the Learning of the Way Fellowship 153
The Growing Concern over Dowry during the Sung 161
Learning of the Way Ideals and Women as Household Bursars 169
Northern Sung Discourse on Women as Household Managers 169
Chu Hsi and Women's Roles in the Household 174
Chu Hsi's Contemporaries and Followers 179
Huang Kan's Enforcement of Learning of the Way Ideals 185
4 Transformation of Marriage and Property Law in the Yuan 200
Marriage and the Levirate in Mongol and Chinese Society 201
Law in the Yuan Dynasty 208
Family Property and Daughters' Inheritance 217
Inheritance in Cut-off Households 220
Women's Separate Property in Marriage 228
Changing Laws on Marriage and Property in the Yuan 229
Stage 1 Separation of Mongol and Chinese Law, 1260 to the End of 1271 230
Stage 2 Mongolization of the Law and Universal Application of the Levirate, 1271-1276 238
Stage 3 Reassertion of Chinese Values and Lenient Enforcement of the Levirate, 1276-1294 245
Stage 4 The Confucian Transformation of Marriage and Property Law, 1294-1320 253
Stage 5 The Exaltation of Chastity in the Late Yuan 273
Post-Yuan Developments 277
Conclusion: Gender, Mongols, and Confucian Ideals 283
Bibliography 297
Glossary-Index 329
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