10. The Second Empire: A Breakthrough That Failed to Materialize

The early Tang dynasty in the seventh century marked the most splendid and satisfying period in the history of China's imperial era. Confidence continued to build as the nation increased its prestige abroad and brought its domestic institutions to near perfection by the standard of the day.

It was a period of system-making. The juntian, or the organization of land utilization introduced by the Taba Wei (p. 90), was renewed. Nationalization of agricultural land therefore remained in force. Under the Tang every able-bodied male was eligible to receive 100 mu of land. Eighty of those would revert back to government control upon the grantee's retirement; but the remaining twenty could be passed on within the family as inheritance. A census was taken every three years. With the acreage allocation came a streamlined taxation system. The obligations consisted of three components, payable as a package by each household under the allotment plan. It involved a grain payment of two hundredweight, a bolt of silk fabric twenty feet long, and corvée service of twenty work days. The rates appeared to be remarkably low


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China, a Macro History


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