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Institutional Change and Social Transformation in Jinmen in the Ming Dynasty: One Reforms to the Sale Administration System

Zhenman ZHENG (Xiamen University)
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Reforms to the system of salt administration in the Ming affected not only the production and circulation of salt, but also taxation, corvee labor, social organization and administrative policies. This paper explores the Wuzhou salt fields of Jinmen beginning in the Yuan-Ming transition, and continuing through reforms such as the commutation of salt tax in the Zhengtong era, the exemption of corvee obligations in the Chenghua era, the increase of surtaxes on salt tax in the Wanli period, and the simplification of salt administration personnel in the Tianqi period, in order to discuss the impact of reforms to state systems on social change in Jinmen. Jinmen in the Ming was both an important base for coastal defense and a major salt producing area, so its socio-economic development was profoundly affected by state systems. The reforms to the salt administration in the mid-Ming led to the liberalization of the salt industry and to various exemptions from corvee labor. This led to the weakening of hierarchical social relationships and encouraged the development of Jinmen's private maritime trade, the rise of a gentry stratum, and the formation of powerful lineages.

Journal of History and Anthropology