Navigation – Plan du site
Homicide and Organised Murder in a Global Perspective

Figures of Deterrence in Late Imperial China. Frequency, Spatial Repartition, and Types of Crimes Targeted by Dismemberment under the Qing Dynasty

Jérôme Bourgon et Julie Erismann
p. 49-84

Résumés

Quoique l’empire chinois ait employé un système de codification juridique sophistiqué pendant des siècles, on a très rarement tenté d’en mesurer l’impact sur la société. La numérisation offre la possibilité de collecter des données à une échelle suffisante pour évaluer les pratiques pénales. Cette recherche constitue l’esquisse de recherches futures, et se limite aux exécutions par démembrement (lingchi), forme la plus dissuasive de la peine de mort, car elle est la mieux documentée et la plus aisée à retrouver dans les archives. Une base de données d’environ 1 140 sentences de lingchi exécutées sur environ 260 ans sous la dynastie des Qing permet l’examen statistique de la fréquence, de l’évolution dans le temps, de la répartition géographique et de la nature des crimes concernés. Initialement, cette peine visait les crimes contre l’État tels que la rébellion ou le brigandage, mais nos données montrent que le lingchi fut employé de manière croissante pour conforter la hiérarchie interne à la famille, en visant les enfants indignes et les épouses meurtrières. Plutôt que l’arme rudimentaire servant à écraser les soulèvements souvent décrite par les historiens, le lingchi constituait un dispositif sophistiqué de soutien d’un projet confucéen complexe.

Haut de page

Extrait du texte

Ce document sera publié en ligne en texte intégral en octobre 2017.

Plan

Introduction
Why focus on lingchi executions ?
Common assumptions about lingchi and the issues they raise
Problems and potential of the collected data
Frequency of linchi sentences and trends throughout the Qing period
Targets of deterrence : crimes liable of lingchi and their share in effective lingchi sentences
Lingchi as restoration of public order
Lingchi used for restoring hierarchical order within the family
Spreading deterrence : the spatial repartition of lingchi in the Qing empire
Localizing crimes targeted by lingchi sentences
Some tentative comparisons with Europe
Conclusion

Aperçu du texte

Introduction

Numbers are rare in Chinese history, which forces China historians to rely on empiricism and rule of thumb. It may seem that legal history is less hampered by the shortage of quantitative data than economic or social history, since there are plenty of codes and casebooks to explore. Yet evaluating the efficiency of the legal system in general, or the implementation of death penalty and its deterring effect on the Chinese populace, the lack of reliable figures becomes a serious obstacle.

As far as we know, there have been only two attempts from historians of China to treat crime and punishment statistically. Both rely on the xingke tiben, the routine memorials written by the provincial governors presenting cases of capital sentencing from their jurisdictions to the Board of Punishment. These documents were ultimately registered by a bureau of the Censorate specialized in penal matters (xingke), and conserved in the Grand Secretariat archives. In 1990, James Lee used copies...

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Jérôme Bourgon et Julie Erismann, « Figures of Deterrence in Late Imperial China. Frequency, Spatial Repartition, and Types of Crimes Targeted by Dismemberment under the Qing Dynasty », Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies, Vol. 18, n°2 | 2014, 49-84.

Référence électronique

Jérôme Bourgon et Julie Erismann, « Figures of Deterrence in Late Imperial China. Frequency, Spatial Repartition, and Types of Crimes Targeted by Dismemberment under the Qing Dynasty », Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies [En ligne], Vol. 18, n°2 | 2014, mis en ligne le 01 octobre 2017, consulté le 24 juillet 2017. URL : http://chs.revues.org/1487 ; DOI : 10.4000/chs.1487

Haut de page

Auteurs

Jérôme Bourgon

After studying and passing grades in history departments, Jérôme Bourgon specialized in Chinese history. In 1994, he defended his Ph.D thesis in ‘History and Civilization’ at the EHESS, with a study of Shen Jiaben, who introduced Western law in late imperial China and was the last jurist and historian of the Chinese legal tradition. Hereafter, Bourgon researched various aspects of Chinese law, such as the questionable relationship between ‘customs’ and civil law, the various genres of legal books in imperial China, and penal law as seen through the ominous ‘Supplice chinois’ [http://turandot.chineselegalculture.org/]. He published two books on this topic. Since 2011, he leads an international project aimed at a complete and accurate translation of the Qing dynasty penal code, as well as a new understanding of law through its differentiated implementation on the various parts of the empire territory, hence its title “Legalizing Space in China” [http://lsc.chineselegalculture.org/]. He is currently writing a general history of penal law in China, in which this study on lingchi takes place.

Julie Erismann

Julie Erismann has a doctorate in geography (Univ. Jean-Moulin, Lyon, France) – She is responsible for the statistics, diagrams and maps in this article.

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

© Droz

Haut de page
  • Revues.org