chapter  10
12 Pages

Conditions and risks of water transport in the late Ming Songjiang region as seen in cases collected in Mao Yilu’s Yunjian yanlüe TAM K A - CHAI

Mao Yilu and his Yunjian yanlüe A native of Sui’an 遂安, Zhejiang province, Mao Yilu was a controversial figure in late Ming politics. On the one hand, he was known in his early days as a just and reformist judicial official in his primary appointment as prefectural judge (tuiguan 推官) of Songjiang after he obtained his jinshi status in 1604. Appraised as an official of integrity, he contributed particularly in the fields of law and education in his first jurisdiction. Mao was then promoted to the post of transport-control censor by the end of the Wanli reign, arguably through the tuizhi xingqu 推知行取 promotion route.1 On the other hand, Mao was infamous in the later part of his life. When he served as grand coordinator of the Suzhou area during the Tianqi 天啟 era (1621-1627), he was closely associated with the eunuch-tyrant Wei Zhongxian 魏忠賢 (1568-1627) in the factional politics against the Donglin 東林 partisans, who were considered righteous politicians upholding the moral standard and political institutions of the decaying Ming regime. In addition to building a living shrine for Wei in Suzhou, Mao also ruthlessly suppressed an uprising against Wei in his jurisdiction, which had been prompted by the arrest of the upright Donglin leader Zhou Shunchang 周順昌 (1584-1626).2 Consequently, when Wei was arrested and executed soon after the Chongzhen 崇禎 emperor (r. 1628-1644) had ascended the throne, Mao was prosecuted as Wei’s follower. He died suddenly in 1629, and it was widely believed that the ghosts of the Donglin victims had caused his unnatural death.