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The Art of Being GovernedEveryday Politics in Late Imperial China$
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Michael Szonyi

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691197241

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691197241.001.0001

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A Father Loses Three Sons to the Army

A Father Loses Three Sons to the Army

Everyday Politics In Ming China

(p.1) Introduction A Father Loses Three Sons to the Army
The Art of Being Governed

Michael Szonyi

Princeton University Press

This chapter provides a background on the consequences of choices about military mobilization in China's southeast coast under the Ming dynasty from 1368 to 1644. It does not focus on military or logistical or fiscal consequences but on social consequences of how military institutions shaped the lives of ordinary people. This chapter tells the stories of ordinary Ming families' interaction with state institutions and how this interaction affected other kinds of social relations. It explains how ordinary people in the Ming were able to deal with their obligations to provide manpower to the army and what were the broader consequences of their behaviour. The chapter also shows how people seized opportunities offered by living with the Ming state. Their strategies, practices, and discourses constitute a pattern of political interaction that was not unique to soldiers but was distributed more broadly across Ming society, and was not unique to the Ming but can be identified in other times in Chinese history, and perhaps beyond.

Keywords:   military mobilization, Ming dynasty, manpower, Ming state, Chinese history

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