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C O U R S E 
A History of the World since 1300
Jeremy Adelman, Princeton University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
The Influence of Silver on the Ming Dynasty
Notes taken on May 19, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
Ming China (1368-1644)
China recovered from Mongol conquests and Black Death in the 13th century with the creation of the Ming Dynasty
became a major importer of silver
from mines in Japan
trade through Manila
from 1570s onward, through supplies in the New World, increasing demand for silver in China
silver coins from the New World, many minted in Mexico from Mexican silver
1500-1650: half of all European imports from Asia would be paid for in silver
China wanted silver because
it had instituted an important fiscal reform, an effective tax system
1581: The Single Whip Tax
land tax that would be payable in one denomination: silver
silver readily accessible from Japanese and North and South American mines
important for intensifying Ming state formation
silver brought about many changes
increased urbanization
new kinds of commodities
Chinese upper classes took an affection for Japaneses laquerware
imports could be paid for by silver
imported live turkeys from Americas
private libraries
cultural efflorescence
self improvement
moral vigor
self cultivation through education and study
China's imperial exams
Wang Yangming (1472-1529)
each moral virtue is naturally embedded within each person
but it has to be cultivated
had a strong individualist and egalitarian philosophy
very influential on Ming theorists
rejection of modernization
but no denying that there was an enormous amount of dynamism in the Chinese state
felt on the borders of China
China was an agrarian aristocracy
turned its attention to the outer frontiers
founder of the Ming dynasty argued that agriculture is the foundation of the nation
therefore open up new lands for settlement
initial fixation was on the south
increasing opportunities for producing staples
lure farmers to activities in south
used as a base in southernization
where much silver entered into China
money flowed in, silk flowed out
mulberry trees planted for silk production
at the expense of the native, tropical forests, natural swamps filled in with mulberry trees, rice paddies
used to drain swamps
natural ecological systems gave way to agricultural systems
this spelled doom for the non-human macrofauna and other animals of the region
at least one species of elephants in southern China went extinct
tigers nearly extinct
population increase:
1400: 4 million
1640: 12 million