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Luxurious NetworksSalt Merchants, Status, and Statecraft in Eighteenth-Century China$
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Yulian Wu

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780804798112

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804798112.001.0001

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Courting the Court

Courting the Court

(p.31) One Courting the Court
Luxurious Networks

Yulian Wu

Stanford University Press

This chapter sets the scene for this study, examining the historical and political reasons for the Huizhou salt merchants’ rise and their connection with the court during the High Qing period. It explains how the Manchu court reformed existing salt monopoly policies by appointing the emperors’ bondservants as salt bureau officials and by establishing the new position of head merchant. These two policies injected the Manchu emperors’ own networks into the salt monopoly institution and allowed the court to effectively exert influence on the wealthiest commercial centers of the Lower Yangzi area. The Huizhou salt merchants, on the other hand, created new and direct ties with the court by obtaining head merchant positions. These merchants thus achieved unprecedented economic and political privileges that took advantage of the Manchu court’s own ethnic strategies.

Keywords:   Salt monopoly, head merchant, bondservants, bannerman, Huizhou, Manchu court, Qianlong emperor, network, She county

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