The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties

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Harvard University Press, Jun 30, 2010 - History - 329 pages
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"The Mongol takeover in the 1270s changed the course of Chinese history. The Confucian empire—a millennium and a half in the making—was suddenly thrust under foreign occupation. What China had been before its reunification as the Yuan dynasty in 1279 was no longer what it would be in the future. Four centuries later, another wave of steppe invaders would replace the Ming dynasty with yet another foreign occupation. The Troubled Empire explores what happened to China between these two dramatic invasions. If anything defined the complex dynamics of this period, it was changes in the weather. Asia, like Europe, experienced a Little Ice Age, and as temperatures fell in the thirteenth century, Kublai Khan moved south into China. His Yuan dynasty collapsed in less than a century, but Mongol values lived on in Ming institutions. A second blast of cold in the 1630s, combined with drought, was more than the dynasty could stand, and the Ming fell to Manchu invaders. Against this background—the first coherent ecological history of China in this period—Timothy Brook explores the growth of autocracy, social complexity, and commercialization, paying special attention to China’s incorporation into the larger South China Sea economy. These changes not only shaped what China would become but contributed to the formation of the early modern world."
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Landscape of Contemporary China
4
Provinces of Contemporary China
5
Scale
24
Ming Dynasty Courier Routes and Travel Distances
32
The Lower Yangzi Region Jiangnan
35
Provinces and Cities of the Yuan Dynasty
40
Provinces and Provincial Capitals of the Ming Dynasty
41
Families
134
Two Women Husking Millet Using a Stone Roller
139
Portrait of Shang Lu
151
Portrait of a Ming Gentleman
154
Beliefs
161
Buddhist Monk in the Guise of a Lohan
165
General Map of the Terrestrial World
175
The Business of Things
186

FIGURES
44
The Nine Sloughs
50
Dragon Emerging by Wang Zhao 11
56
Heavy Snow in the Mountain Passes by Wen Zhengming
58
Guanyin Protecting Children from Pestilence
69
Khan and Emperor
79
Khubilai on a Hunt by Liu Guandao
84
Portrait of Zhu Yuanzhang
88
Economy and Ecology
106
Distillery Workers Grinding Grain to Make Liquor
115
Magistrate Distributing Grain from a State Granary
123
Porcelain Jar
192
Enjoying Antiquities by Du Jin
195
The South China Sea
213
The Selden Map
218
IO Collapse
238
Lohan by Wu Bin
265
Temperature and Precipitation Extremes
269
Notes 274
289
Bibliography
297
Acknowledgments
317
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Timothy Brook is Professor of History at the University of British Columbia, author of Collaboration: Japanese Agents and Local Elites in Wartime China, and co-author of Death by a Thousand Cuts. He is General Editor of the History of Imperial China series.

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