By Robert E. Hegel

The little-examined style of felony case narratives is represented during this interesting quantity, the 1st assortment translated into English of legal instances - such a lot related to murder - from overdue imperial China. those actual tales of crimes of ardour, relatives clash, local feuds, gang violence, and sedition are a treasure trove of knowledge approximately social relatives and criminal strategy. every one narrative describes conditions prime as much as a criminal offense and its discovery, the looks of the crime scene and the physique, the plain explanation for loss of life, hypothesis approximately causes and premeditation, and no matter if self-defense used to be concerned. distinctive testimony is integrated from the accused and from witnesses, kinfolk, and pals, in addition to summaries and reviews from neighborhood magistrates, their coroners, and different officers better up the chain of judicial evaluation. officers clarify which legislations within the Qing dynasty felony code used to be violated, which corresponding punishment was once acceptable, and no matter if the sentence used to be eligible for aid. those files begun as studies from magistrates on murder situations inside of their jurisdiction that have been required via legislations to be attempted first on the county point, then reviewed via judicial officers on the prefectural, provincial, and nationwide degrees, with every one administrator including his personal observations to the dossier. every one case used to be made up our minds ultimately in Beijing, within the identify of the emperor if no longer by way of the monarch himself, sooner than sentences should be performed and the documents completely filed. the entire situations translated listed below are from the Qing imperial copies, such a lot of that are now housed within the First ancient data, Beijing.

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Additional resources for True Crimes in Eighteenth-Century China: Twenty Case Histories

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The official language”). Their testimony was also edited to remove all vulgarity 18 Introduction and local slang and to fit customary prescriptions for the recording of testimony. After the initial summary of the case, ordinary crime reports outline the procedures followed in the investigation—from the first notice of the crime, to the assembly of all persons likely to have been involved, to an investigation of the corpse. Thereafter the reports include testimony that speaks to the identity of the victim and of the perpetrator and the motivation for the offense.

24. ” Buoye notes that sentences of immediate execution were rare, less than 6 percent of his extensive sample of cases from Guangdong, and that leniency was commonly sought in case reports. Buoye, “Suddenly,” 62 n. 3, 68 –70, 82– 86. Extreme punishments are not so rare in the very small sample of cases in this volume. 25. Jones, Great Qing Code, 34. ” 26. ” 27. ” 28. Sung Tz’u, Washing Away of Wrongs, 37. e, see McLeod and Yates, “Forms of Ch’in Law,” esp. 154 – 55. 29. Huang Liuhong provides various guidelines for effective interrogation; see Huang Liu-hung, Complete Book, 268 –73.

I tried to collect many times, but he was never willing to repay me. On the morning of the fifth of the seventh, I went again to collect the money, but he still wasn’t able to repay me. I spoke to him about it, but he cursed me in return. Momentarily I lost my temper [yishi qifen], and I smashed one of the pottery bowls in his shop. Then Zhang Mingfu butted me with his head, and I hit him back once with my fist. I never thought that hitting him in the ribs would make him fall over. By dusk, he was dead.

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