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A Seventeenth-Century ‘General Crisis’ in East Asia?

  • Williams S. Atwell (a1)


Approximately ten years ago now, several colleagues and I were discussing Geoffrey Parker and Lesley Smith's then recently-published volume on the ‘Seventeenth-Century Crisis’ when a specialist in Byzantine history told us that in his opinion at least, Parker, Smith, and the others who had contributed to their jointly-edited work had gotten it all wrong. The really important ‘general crisis’ in pre-modern times, he believed, had occurred not in the seventeenth century but rather in the fourteenth. As he went on to discuss the impact of climatic change, food shortages, epidemic disease, monetary fluctuations, and military operations on fourteenth-century Europe and the Middle East, I began to think about some of the great and terrible events that had occurred in East Asian history during that same century: the fall of the Kamakura Shogunate (1185–1330S) and the political turmoil of the Northern and Southern Dynasties (Nambokuchō) period (1336–92) in Japan; the economic and military disasters surrounding the fall of the Mongol Yuan dynasty (1279–1368) in China; and the food shortages, ‘Japanese pirate’ (wakō) raids, and civil wars that paved the way for the founding of the Yi dynasty (1392–1910) in Korea. In subsequent readings I added economic and political strife in fourteenth-century Southeast Asia, the decline of the Delhi Sultanate in India, the collapse of the Ilkhanate (1256–1335) in Persia, and the destructive rise of Timur (1336–1405) in Transoxania. Surely a case could be made, I came to think, for a 'General Crisis of the Fourteenth Century,' one much broader in scope than even our Byzantine specialist had been considering.



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This is a revised version of a paper presented at the Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting in Washington D.C., in March 1989.

1 Parker, Geoffrey and Smith, Lesley M. (eds), The General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century (London, Henley and Boston, 1978).

2 Unfortunately, the Byzantine specialist in question had not read the Parker and Smith volume carefully. At one point in their joint introduction, for example, Parker and Smith specifically discuss the ‘simultaneous unrest on a global scale’ that had occurred during the fourteenth century. See Parker, and Smith, , ‘Introduction,’ in Parker, and Smith, (eds), The General Crisis, p. 4.

3 For further discussions of the global nature of fourteenth-century economic and political problems, see Wallerstein, Immanuel, The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century (New York, 1974), pp. 34–9; and Cipolla, Carlo M., The Monetary Policy of Fourteenth-Century Florence (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London, 1982), pp. 129.

4 John Munro, ‘Bullion Flows and Monetary Contraction in late-Medieval England and the Low Countries,’ in J. F. Richards (ed.), Precious Metals in the Later Medieval and Early Modern Worlds (Durham, North Carolina, 1983), p. 121. For similar and related problems in Egypt at this time, see Boaz Shoshan, ‘From Silver to Copper: Monetary Changes in Fifteenth-Century Egypt,’ Studia Islamica 56 (1982): 97–116; and idem., ‘Exchange Rate Policies in Fifteenth-Century Egypt,’ Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 29, pt 1 (Feb. 1986): 49–50.

5 Taejin, Yi, ‘Economic Transformation and Socio-Political Trends in Sixteenth-Century East Asia’ (paper presented at the Conference on the International History of Early Modern East Asia,' Lihue, Hawaii, Jan. 3–9, 1988), pp. 1011.

6 Quoted in Brown, Delmer M., Money Economy in Medieval Japan: A Study in the Use of Coins (New Haven, 1951), pp. 23–4. See also Kuno, Yoshi S., Japanese Expansion on the Asiatic Continent, 2 vols (Berkeley, 1937), 1:114–15, 286–91. It would be unwise to take Yoshimasa's words too literally here. Although it is clear that many areas of Japan, including the capital region, were experiencing severe problems at this time, other areas were taking advantage of the chaos at the top of the Japanese political world to move ahead both economically and politically.

7 On Sino-Japanese diplomatic and commercial relations at this time, see Takeo, Tanaka, ‘Japan's Relations with Overseas Contries,’ in Hall, John Whitney and Takeshi, Toyoda (eds), Japan in the Muromachi Age (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London, 1977), pp. 168–71; and Yi-t'ung, Wang, Official Relations between China and Japan, 1368–1549 (Cambridge, Mass., 1953).

8 Huang, Ray, Taxation and Governmental Finance in Sixteenth-Century Ming China (Cambridge, England, 1974), p. 75.

9 The small number of copper coins supplied by the Ming government to the tribute mission of 1468 had been a disappointment to the Japanese authorities as well. See Goodrich, L. Carrington and Fang, Chaoying (eds), Dictionary of Ming Biography, 2 vols (New York and London, 1976), 2:1160.

10 Quoted in Brown, Money Economy, p. 24. See also Kuno, , Japanese Expansion, 1:290.

11 Colleagues in European history have informed me that there is now talk of a ‘Mid Sixteenth-Century Crisis’ in Britain and elsewhere.

12 As some readers may be aware, I have been one of the guilty parties in this. See my ‘Some Observations on the “Seventeenth-Century Crisis” in China and Japan,’ Journal of Asian Studies 45, 2 (Feb. 1986):223–44; and my ‘Ming Observers of Ming Decline: Some Chinese Views on the “Seventeenth-Century Crisis” in Comparative Perspective,’ Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland 2 (1988):316–48. For further information on this subject as it relates to East Asia, see S. A. M. Adshead, ‘The Seventeenth-Century General Crisis in China,’ Asian Profile 1, 2 (1973): 271–80; idem, China in World History (New York, 1988), pp. 207–9; Frederic Wakeman Jr, The Great Enterprise: The Manchu Reconstruction of Order in Seventeenth-Century China 2 vols (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London, 1985), 1:1–20; and idem, ‘China and the Seventeenth-Century Crisis,’ Late Imperial China 7, 1 (June 1986):1–26.

13 Steensgaard, Niels, ‘The Seventeenth-century Crisis,’ in Parker, and Smith, (eds), The General Crisis, p. 27.

14 Rabb, Theodore K., The Struggle for Stability in Early Modern Europe (New York, 1975), p. vii. See also Schöffer, Ivo, ‘Did Holland's Golden Age Coincide with a Period of Crisis?,’ in Parker, and Smith, (eds), The General Crisis, pp. 83109.

15 This is a reference to Professor Trevor-Roper's, article ‘The General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century,’ which first appeared in Past and Present 16 (1959), but which can also be found in Aston, Trevor (ed.), Crisis in Europe 1560–1660, (Garden City New York, 1967), pp. 63102.

16 This is a reference to Professor Hobsbawm's article ‘The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century,’ which first appeared in Past and Present 5 and 6 (1954), but which can also be found with an additional postscript in Aston, (ed.), Crisis in Europe, pp. 562.

17 This is a reference to Professor Mousnier's Les XVIe et XVIIe Siècles (Paris, 1953), in which the ‘general crisis of the seventeenth century’ is seen to last from approximately 1598 to 1715.

18 Rabb, , The Struggle for Stability, p. 29.

19 As was pointed out by an unidentified member of the audience at the Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., at which this paper was first present in March 1989, the term ‘general crisis’ can be defined in a number of ways. One of these ways is that the crisis in question affected virtually all aspects of a nation's or society's historical and cultural development, from economic, social, and political structures to religious beliefs and artistic expression. A second kind of ‘general crisis’ is more limited in scope and deals with severe economic and political problems over a wide geographical area. This paper adopts the latter definition and concentrates on economic and political developments in China, Korea, Japan, and, to a lesser extent, in the Ryūkyū and Philippine Islands.

20 Ōta quoted in Elison, George, ‘The Cross and the Sword: Patterns of Momoyama History,’ in Elison, and Smith, Bardwell (eds), Warlords, Artists, and Commoners: Japan in the Sixteenth Century (Honolulu, 1981), p. 55. See also Berry, Mary Elizabeth, Hideyoshi (Cambridge, Mass., 1982), pp. 183205; and Susser, Bernard, ‘The Toyotomi Regime and the Daimyo,’ in Mass, Jeffrey P. and Hauser, William B. (eds), The Bakufu in Japanese History (Stanford, 1985), pp. 145–6.

21 Writing a few years after Ōta, the Jesuit priest Joāo Rodrigues (1561–1634), who lived in Japan from 1577 to 1610, qualified his own glowing account of that country's prosperity in the late sixteenth century with the observation that although many had become rich during the reign of Hideyoshi, ‘the ordinary folk and peasants were impoverished by the taxes they were obliged to pay.’ See Rodrigues, Joāo, This Island of Japan, trans. and ed. Cooper, Michael (Tokyo, 1973) p. 78.

22 Quoted in Elison, ‘The Cross and the Sword,’ p. 55.

23 Atwell, , ‘Some Observations,’ pp. 224–7.

24 Quoted in Vlastos, Stephen, Peasant Protests and Uprisings in Tokugawa Japan (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London, 1986), p. 32.

25 Hirofumi, Yamamoto, Kan'ei jidai (Tokyo, 1989), pp. 189204. I am grateful to Professor Ronald P. Toby for bringing this work to my attention. For additional information on economic conditions in Japan during the Kan'ei period, see Keiji, Yamaguchi and Junnosuke, Sasaki, Bakuhan taisei (Tokyo, 1971), pp. 55–9;Naohiro, Asao, Sakoku (Tokyo, 1975), pp. 368–76;Tamotsu, Nagakura, ‘Kan'ei no kikin to bakufu no taiō,’ in kōron, Rekishi (ed.), Edo Jidai no kikin (Tokyo, 1982), pp. 7585; and Osamu, Wakita (with McClain, James L.), ‘The Commercial and Urban Polices of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi,’ in Hall, John Whitney, Keiji, Nagahara, and Yamamura, Kozo (eds), Japan Before Tokugawa (Princeton, 1981), pp. 244–5.

26 For chronological listings of these disasters, see Motoo, Endō, Kinsei seikatsushi nempyō (Tokyo, 1982), pp. 5864;Hatasu, Okajima, Nihon no sai-i shi (Tokyo, 1967), pp. 4950; and Takahashi, K. and Nemoto, J., ‘Relationship between Climatic Change, Rice Production, and Population,’ in Takahashi, K. and Yoshino, M. M. (eds), Climatic Change and Food Production (Tokyo, 1978), p. 184.

27 For statistical information on these price increases, see Kyōto, Daigaku kinsei bukkashi kenkyūkai (ed.), Jūgo-Jūshichi seiki ni okeru bukka hendō no kenkyū (Kyoto, 1962), pp. 72–4; and Ryūzō, Yamazaki, Kinsei bukkashi kenkyū (Tokyo, 1983), pp. 4957.

28 Yōko, Nagazumi (trans.), Hirado Oranda shōkan nikki, 4 vols (Tokyo, 1970), 4:338–9; and Yamamoto, , Kan'ei jidai, pp. 192–4.

29 See, for example, Tokugawa jikki, in Katsumi, Kuroita (ed.), (Shintei zōho) Kokushi taikei, 62 vols (Tokyo, 19591967), 40:258, 269–70, 272–25; and Asao, , Sakoku, p. 368.

30 See Endō, Kinsei seikatsushi nempyō, p. 62.

31 Tokugawa jikki, 40:159, 164, 213; and Yamamoto, , Kan'ei jidai, pp. 194–6.

32 The Tokugawa authorities had legitimate concerns in this area. Only a few years earlier, in 1637–38, the shogunate had encountered serious difficulties putting down the so-called Shimabara Rebellion in western Kyushu. The origins of that rebellion were many and complex, but it seems clear that one of its causes was the terrible suffering caused by a series of poor harvests in the area between 1634 and 1637. See Masao, Irimoto, Shimabara no ran (Tokyo, 1980), pp. 186215; and Morris, Ivan, The Nobility of Failure: Tragic Heroes in the History of Japan (Tokyo, 1982), p. 151.

33 Tokugawa jikki, 40:159, 164, 170, 188, 212–13, 226, 258, 269–75, and 280–1. See also Vlastos, , Peasant Protests, p. 36.

34 Leung, Angela Ki Che, ‘Organized Medicine in Ming–Qing China: State and Private Medical Institutions in the Lower Yangzi Region,’ Late Imperial China 8, 1 (06 1987): 141–2. See also Dunstan, Helen, ‘The Late Ming Epidemics: A Preliminary Survey,’ Ch'ing-shih wen-t'i 3, 3 (12. 1975): 159. For a graphic description of economic conditions in the once prosperous city of Soochow during this period, see Shaoyüan, Yeh, ‘Ch'i-chen chi-wen lu,’ in T'ung-shih (Shanghai, 1911), ts'e 18, 2/10b.

35 See, for example, the comments in ‘Letter from the Ecclesiastical Cabildo to Felipe IV,’ in Blair, E. H. and Robertson, J. A. (eds), The Philippine Islands, 55 vols (Cleveland, Ohio, 19031909), 24:254255.

36 ‘News from the Filipinas, 1640–42,’ in Blair, and Robertson, (eds), The Philippine Islands, 35:123. It is of some interest here that abnormally dry conditions were severely affecting agricultural production in Batavia during these years as well. See Blussé, LeonardStrange Company: Chinese Settlers, Mestizo Women, and the Dutch in VOC Batavia (Dordrecht, 1986), p. 64.

37 Endō, Kinsei seikatsushi nempyō, p. 59; and Lamb, H. H., Climate, History, and the Modern World (London and New York, 1982), p. 227.

38 Woo-keun, Han, The History of Korea, trans. Kyung-shik, Lee (Honolulu, 1970), p. 273. See also Lee, Ki-baik, A New History of Korea, trans. Wagner, Edward W. with Shultz, Edward J. (Cambridge, Mass., 1984), pp. 214–15; and Hatada, Takashi, A History of Korea, trans., Smith, Warren W. Jr and Hazard, Benjamin H. (Santa Barbara, 1969), pp. 7581.

39 Hatada, , A History of Korea, pp. 80–1.

40 Moon, S. E., ‘Climatic Change in Historical Times in Korea,’ in Takahashi, and Yoshino, (eds), Climatic Change and Food Production, pp. 42–3.

41 Chung-yang ch'i-hsiang chü Ch'i-hsiang k'o-ksüeh yen-chiu yüan (ed.), Chung-kuo chin wu-pai nien han-lao fen-pu t'u-chi (Peking, 1981), pp. 8991; and Yoshino, M. M., ‘Regionality of Climatic Change in Monsoon Asia,’ in Takahashi, and Yoshino, (eds), Climatic Change and Food Production, pp. 332–3.

42 Hulbert, Homer B., Hulbert's History of Korea, ed. Weems, Clarence Norwood, 2 vols (New York, 1962), 2:138–9.

43 Goldstone, Jack A., ‘East and West in the Seventeenth Century: Political Crises in Stuart England, Ottoman Turkey, and Ming China,’ Comparative Studies in Society and History 30 (1988):105–6.

44 It is generally thought that from a total of between 10 and 18 million in 1600, Japanese population rose to just above 30 million by 1725. See Rozman, Gilbert, Urban Networks in Ch'ing China and Tokugawa Japan (Princeton, 1973), p. 77; and Jannetta, Ann Bowman, Epidemics and Mortality in Early Modern Japan (Princeton, 1987), p. 29.

45 Yamamura, Kozo, ‘Returns on Unification: Economic Growth in Japan, 1550–1650,’ in Hall, , Nagahara, , and Yamamura, (eds), Japan Before Tokugawa, p. 334.

46 See, for example, Keiji, Yamaguchi and Junnosuke, Sasaki, Bakuhan taisei, pp. 55–9; and Masamoto, Kitajima, Yasunao, Nakada, and Tadashi, Murakami ‘Kan'ei jidai to Bakuhan kokka,’ in kōron, Rekishi, ed., Sakoku to Bakuhan kokka no seiritsu (Tokyo, 1982), pp. 1216. As Hall, Nagahara, and Yamamura note, the term bakuhan was ‘coined by historians to refer to the Tokugawa system of government in which the shogunate [bakufu] constituted national authority while the daimyo exercised authority over their domains [han].’ See Hall, , Nagahara, , and Yamamura, (eds), Japan Before Tokugawa, p. 373.

47 On the economic significance of short-term as opposed to long-term climatic fluctuations, see Flohn, H., ‘Short-term Climatic Fluctuations and Their Economic Role,’ in Wigley, T. M. L., Ingram, M. J., and Farmer, G. (eds), Climate and History: Studies in Past Climates and Their Impact on Man (Cambridge, 1981), pp. 310–18;Lamb, , Climate History, and the Modern World, pp. 219–21; and the articles by Schuurmans, C. J. E. and Rosini, E. in Berger, A. (ed.), Climatic Variations and Variability: Facts and Theories (Dordrecht, 1981).

48 These shifts in atmospheric circulation, in turn, may have been related to the long-term cooling trend in early-modern history that is sometimes known as the ‘Little Ice Age’. For general discussions of this subject, see H. H. Lamb, Climate: Present, Past, and Future, Volume I: Fundamentals and Climate Now (London, 1972), pp. 254–306; and idem, Climate: Past, Present, and Future, Volume 2: Climatic History and the Future (London and New York, 1977), pp. 461–73.

49 These climatic changes also might help to explain the devastating locust attacks which occurred in some parts of China during the late 1630s and 1640s. See Lamb, Climate, History, and the Modern World, p. 304.

50 Post, John D., The Last Great Subsistence Crisis in the Western World (Baltimore and London, 1977), p. xii. See also Lamb, , Climate: Past, Present, and Future, Volume I, pp. 410–35; and Ladurie, Emmanuel Le Roy, ‘History and Climate,’ in Burke, Peter (ed.), Economy and Society in Early Modern Europe (New York, 1972), p. 151, where it is noted that ‘between 1639 and 1643 and again between 1646 and 1650, France experienced a series of cold, wet summers which proved disastrous to grain production.’

51 T'ing-yü, Chang (ed.), Ming-shih, 28 vols (Peking, 1974), 2:504–5;Endō, , Kinsei seikatsushi nempyō, pp. 56–62;Yamazaki, , Kinsei bukkashi kenkyü, pp. 49–57; and Mio, Nakayama, ‘Shindai zenki Kōnan no beika dōkō,’ Shigaku zasshi, 87, 9 (09 1978):133. Students of the history of climate will be aware that the shifts in atmospheric circulation and increased seismic activity at this time may be connected to the fact that the mid-seventeenth century was also a time of very low sunspot activity. As John Gribbin has put it, ‘In an era of declining sunspot activity…, the circulation of the atmosphere, prodded by the fingers of the solar wind, slips into very slow gear, producing…climatic anomalies…and slowing down the spinning top on which we live quite appreciably. This jolt produces a bigger than usual kick on the seismically active zones of the globe, producing a spate of earthquakes, volcanoes, and tidal waves. …’ See Gribbin, John, The Climatic Threat (Glasgow, 1978), p. 152. On reduced sunpot activity in the seventeenth century, see Eddy, John A., ‘The Maunder Minimum: Sunspots and Climate in the Reign of Louis XIV,’ in Parker and Smith, The General Crisis, pp. 226–68; and Wakeman, , The Great Enterprise, 1:7, n. 13.

52 Lamb, , Climate, History, and the Modern World, p. 59.

53 Among the subjects which deserve further research in this area are changes in ocean currents and sea temperatures (including the so-called EI Niño and La Niña phenomena in the Pacific) and their possible relationship to climatic change in premodern East Asia.

54 Here Goldstone is specifically criticizing the work of Pierre Chaunu. See Chaunu's, Manille et Macao, face a la conjoncture des XVI et XVII siécles,’ Annales: économies, sociétés, civilisations 17 (1962).

55 Goldstone, , ‘East and West.’ p. 115.

57 Drawing on the work of Joseph Needham and Ray Huang, for example, Goldstone asserts that individual Chinese merchants often carried upwards of thirty thousand ounces of silver on business trips during the late sixteenth century. Given pre-modern transportation and security problems, one wonders how it would have been possible for individuals to move around the often dangerous late Ming country side with more than two tons of silver, an amount that would have bought food for thousands of people for an entire year.

58 Goldstone, , ‘East and West,’ p. 116.

59 Atwell, , ‘Some Observations,’ p. 232. See also Tetsuo, Kamiki and Kozo, Yamamura, ‘Silver Mines and Sung Coins—A Monetary History of Medieval and Modern Japan in International Perspective,’ in Richards, (ed.), Precious Metals in the Later Medieval and Early Modern Worlds, p. 355; and Chōsakyoku, Nihon Ginkō (ed.), Nihon no kahei, 11 vols (Tokyo, 1973), 2:127131.

60 Yeh, ‘Ch'i-chen chi-wen lu,’ ts'e 18, 2/6a; and Lü-hsiang, Chang, ‘T'ung-hsiang tsai-i-chi,’ in Heng-li, Ch'en (ed.), Pu Nung-shu yen-chiu (Peking, 1958), p. 325. Professor Goldstone is correct when he states that the values of silver relative to gold was falling during this same period. However, since gold was rarely used in commercial transactions in late imperial China, gold–silver ratios are of limited value in determining what was happening in the Ming monetary system. Even if the gold–silver ratio in China was 1:14 at the end of the Ming, that may simply mean that silver was fourteen times more plentiful than gold (or fourteen times less desirable than gold to some people). The ratio tells us nothing about the amount of silver (or gold) actually in circulation.

61 In part because grain prices in China were rising sharply during the late 1630s and early 1640s, Professor Goldstone suggests that silver was being dishoarded rather than hoarded. A much more likely explanation is that because of the natural disasters and food shortages mentioned earlier in this paper, grain prices were rising even faster than the price of silver. Otherwise one would have to explain why silver prices for cotton, silk, mulberry leaves, and other non-food items were falling rather than rising during this supposed period of dishoarding. On the collapse of these non-food. prices in late Ming times, see MrShen, , ‘Ch'i-huang chi-shih,’ in Ch'en, (ed.), Pu Nung-shu, p. 290; and Wiens, Mi Chu, ‘Cotton Textile Production and Rural Social Transformation in Early Modern China,’ Chung-kuo wen-hua yen-chiu-so hsüeh-pao 7, 2 (1974):525. For a recent study which deals in a general way with hoarding in early-modern China, see Kindleberger, Charles P., Spenders and Hoarders: The World Distribution of Spanish American Silver, 1550–1750 (Singapore, 1989).

62 de Abreu, Antonio Alvarez, ‘Commerce between the Philippines and Nueva España,’ in Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, 30:86.

63 Relation of the Insurrection of the Chinese,’ in Blair, and Robertson, , The Philippine Islands, 29:208–58.

64 Dutch and Chinese merchants continued to export silver from Japan after 1639, but, with the exception of the years 1659–1661, the amounts involved usually were far below the estimates made by leading Japanese authorities such as Kobata Atsushi and Iwao Seiichi for the early seventeenth century. See Atwell, ‘Some Observations,’ pp. 225, 231.

65 Goldstone, , ‘East and West,’ p. 116.

66 Philip IV quoted in de Abreu, Alvarez, ‘Commerce between the Philippines and Nueva España,’ in Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, 30:86. See also Schurz, William Lytle, The Manila Galleon (New York, 1959), p. 91; and Adshead, , China in World History, pp. 208–9.

67 It should be noted that economic difficulties had also led to the murder of thousands of Chinese in the Philippines in 1603. As was the case in the 1640s, however, the Chinese soon returned to the islands in large numbers and, after a brief period of adjustment, trade with the Spanish resumed. See The Sangley Insurrection,’ in Blair, and Robertson, , The Philippine Islands, 12:142–68.

68 As might be expected, Chinese and Dutch merchants were attempting to take economic advantage of the expulsion of the Portuguese from Nagasaki in 1639.

69 Yamamoto, , Kan'ei jidai, pp. 192–4.

70 Nagazumi, , Hirado Oranda shōkan nikki, 4:338–9;Naojirō, Murakami (trans.), Nagasaki Oranda shōkan no nikki (Tokyo, 1956), vol. I, p. 158; and Pratt, Peter, History of Japan: Compiled from the Records of the English East India Company, ed. Paske-Smith, M., 2 vols. (Kobe, 1931), 2:293.

71 Nachod, Oskar, Die Beziehungen der Niederländischen Ostindischen Kompagnie zu Japan im siebzehnten Jahrhundert (Leipzig, 1897), Beilage 63, p. CCVII.

72 Few people would quarrel with Professor Goldstone's statement that ‘cumulating internal disorder, not an external interruption of silver supplies, seems to be the crucial cause of the Ming crisis’. Goldstone, ‘East and West’, p. 116.

73 Yang-chia, T'ung quoted in Wen-hsien ts'ung-pien (Peking 1930–?), chi 24:19b. See also Lo-shu, Fu, A Documentary Chronicle of Sino-Western Relations, 2 vols (Tucson, 1966), 2:7.

74 Professor Boxer's classic study of this subject is The Great Ship from Amacon: Annals of Macao and the Old Japan Trade, 1555–1640 (Lisbon, 1959).

75 Students of climatic history will be aware that the long-term cooling trend in early-modern history sometimes known as the ‘Little Ice Age’ continued during the second half of the seventeenth century, causing farmers throughout the world to adjust to new growing conditions. Chinese farmers seem to have made this adjustment fairly successfully, because the country experienced a series of bumper grain harvests during the 1660s and 1670s. Of course, those harvests may have seemed better that they actually were because the overall demand for grain undoubtedly had fallen in response to the population losses that had occurred during the Ming-Ch'ing transition. The magnitude of those losses is a subject which deserves urgent attention.

76 Mio, Kishimoto, ‘The Kangxi Depression and Early Qing Local Markets’, Modern China 10, 2 (1984):227–56.

77 T'ien-yen, Mu, ‘Ch'ing k' ai hai-chin shu,’ in Ch'ang-ling, Ho, ed., Huang Chao ching-shih wen-pien (Taipei, n.d.), ch. 26/14b, p. 966. I am grateful to Professor Helen Dunstan for bringing this memorial to my attention. See also Han-sheng, Ch'üan, ‘Ch'ing chung-yeh i-ch'ien Chiang-che mi chia ti pien-tung ch'ü-shih,’ in Ch'üan, (ed.), Chung-kuo ching-chi shih lun-ts'ung, 2 vols (Hong Kong, 1972), 2:514.

78 It is of course likely that as economic and political conditions in China improved during the late 1640s and early 1650s and business confidence rose, silver was also dishoarded.

79 In addition to the article by Kishimoto cited in note 76, see Vogel, Hans Ulrich, ‘Chinese Central Monetary Policy, 1644–1800,’ Late Imperial China 8, no. 2 (12. 1987):23.

80 Mu, , ‘Ch'ing k'ai hai-chin shu,’ ch. 26/14b, p. 966.

81 Yōichi, Saitō, ‘Edo jidai no saigai nempyō’, in Rekishi Kōron, no. 47 (10 1979):1020.

82 As in China, however, bumper grain harvests during this period sometimes helped to lower farm prices, thus creating severe hardships for some farmers.

83 Vlastos, , Peasant Protests, pp. 40, 47. Other scholars would probably date the agricultural recovery to the 1650s. See, for example, Sasaki Junnosuke (with Toby, Ronald P.), ‘The Changing Rationale of Daimyo Control in the Emergence of the Bakuhan State,’ in Hall, , Nagahara, , and Yamamura, Kozo (eds), Japan Before Tokugawa, pp. 286–91.

84 See the recent discussion of this subject in Prakash, Om, The Dutch East India Company and the Economy of Bengal, 1630–1720 (Princeton, 1985), pp. 118–41.

85 Han, , The History of Korea, p. 309.

86 Lee, , A New History of Korea, pp. 230–1.

87 Purcell, Victor, The Chinese in Southeast Asia (London, 1965), p. 502.

88 Unlike the situation in the late 1630s, therefore, Sino-Spanish trade during the 1660s and 1670s was affected more by political decisions taken in China than by the availability of New World silver in Manila.

89 Teggart, Frederick J., Rome and China: A Study of Correlations in Historical Events (Berkeley, 1939), p. 243.

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