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Purchase on Power:Imperial Space and Commercial Space in Song-Dynasty Kaifeng, 960-1127

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image of Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

In Song-dynasty Kaifeng, empire and emporia existed in a relationship of mutual dependence and mutual competition. The imperial government depended on merchants for the shipment of grain and goods to supply its massive armies and to pay the salaries of its officials; the merchants derived their income directly or indirectly from these government expenditures. The concentration of wealth and goods in the capital generated in turn a culture of sumptuary competition. The contests over space in the streets of the capital, and the competition for the goods that circulated through them, reveal configurations of power that rarely find direct expression in writing.

À Kaifeng, capitale des Song du Nord, l’empire et les emporia se trouvaient dans une relation de dépendance mais aussi de compétition. En effet, le gouvernement impérial dépendait des marchands pour le transport des grains et des marchandises avec lesquels il approvisionnait ses armées et payait les traitements de ses fonctionnaires. Réciproquement les marchands tiraient la plupart de leurs revenus des dépenses gouvernementales. La concentration des richesses et des biens dans la capitale entraîna en retour une compétition somptuaire. La concurrence pour l’espace dans les rues métropolitaines et les rivalités pour l’appropriation des biens qui y circulaient révèlent des configurations de pouvoir rarement exprimées de manière explicite dans les textes.


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