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Contents and Summaries No.4 December 2023
December 25, 2023  

Marx, Sombart, Weber and the Debate about the Genesis of Modern Capitalism

Bertram Schefold

The California School denies that the origin of modern capitalism was rooted in older European traditions, since the major Asian and European empires and nations were at comparable levels of development around 1700. The theories of Marx, Sombart and Weber are leading examples of the opposite view. They differentiate between different forms of precapitalist and early capitalist development in order to identify the factors which prevented or helped to initiate the industrial revolution. To ignore these factors is to belittle the importance of persistent cultural differences.

The ManagementofHousehold Waste in 19th Century London

WANG Xuesong

In the first half of the 19th century, London’s household waste management model was characterised by contractor-led business practices.With the development of the city, the ravages of diseases, and the advancement of thepublic health movement, London societygradually realizedtherelationshipbetween household waste and disease, poverty,and moral degradation, andcalled for an innovative waste management model.Thewaste contracting systemhadalsoexposedthe drawbacks of excessivelypursuingprofitswhile neglectingsocialwelfare.As a result, in the second half of the 19th century, the London governmentbegun todirectly intervenein themanagementof household waste, forming a government-led municipal governancemodel.

The Formation of the Western Resident Ambassador System

XIE Sijie CAI Wenjie

In the Middle Ages, diplomatic envoys had one single responsibility, limited representation, non-professionals, temporary diplomatic missions which could be assigned by different entities. At that time, the Vatican sent representatives to Byzantium and various parts of Europe, and in early modern times, various countries also sent representatives to the Papal State. In the late Middle Ages, with the formation of nation-states, political affairs between nations became more intricate. During the Italian War, diplomacy played an increasingly significant role in the political affairs of the states on the Apennine Peninsula, the exchange of permanent diplomatic envoys and government departments specifically responsible for diplomatic affairs emerged. The collapse of the Respublica Christiana centered on the Roman Curia gave rise to the "Westphalian System" based on the principle of balance. The establishment of the system of the resident ambassador facilitated regular diplomatic relations between nations, and the development trend of modern national sovereignty and national system was becoming increasingly apparent.

A Catholic Response to the Protestant Reformation


The Protestant Reformation broke out in 1517, and in 1545 the Roman Catholic Church held an ecumenical council in the northern Italian city of Trent to respond the reformation, clarify traditional doctrines, and promote self-innovation. The Council of Trent lasted for nearly 18 years. It received support from European monarchs and even attracted the participation of Protestant princes. The Council concentrated on both reform and doctrine, and promulgated a series of decrees covering numerous aspects of society and culture. The results of the Council consolidated papal supremacy and strengthened the influence of the Catholic Church,which had a significant impact on European society and culture.

The Economic Security Mechanism for Families Involved in Coal Mining Accidents in the Late Nineteenth Century England

LIU Xiao

In the second half of the 19th century, coal mining accidents occurred frequently in Britain, and the bereaved families lost their income sources, but they did not fall into poverty, nor did they become unstable factors in coal mining areas, which was mainly due to the economic security mechanism for these families. The mine owners provided assistance to these families by sponsoring funerals, providing temporary relief funds, paying “Smart Money” and donating to The Permanent Relief Fund; the miners could improve their self-rescue ability by purchasing commercial insurance and joining The Permanent Relief Fund; and social charity forces assisted in increasing the income of these families by establishing Colliery Disaster Funds. These three constituted the main content of the mechanism. The economic security mechanism for families involve in coal mining accidents had alleviated the problem of poverty in coal mining areas, maintained the stability and development of the coal mining industry, and had a profound impact.

Silk Trade: Economic Support of the Safavid Dynastyin Iran in Early Modern Times

MU Shihong

The silk trade in the Safavid dynasty in Iran was a part of the early modern intercontinental trade between the east and the west, and was an importantstepin the initial formation of the world market and the early global commercial system. The initial rise of silk trade during the Safavid dynasty was mainly due to the surgeindemand in the western silk market and changes in the global silk trade pattern. Driven by the growing demand of the international market, Shah Abbas the Great took various measures to support the development of silk trade, and the silk export of Safavid dynasty began to show a prosperous scene. The silk trade contributed to the economic development of the Safavid dynasty, providing necessary financial support for the internal reform and external wars carried out by Shah Abbas the Great, and becoming an important economic support for the Safavid dynasty to keep abreast of the Ottoman and Mughal Empire.

A Study on Du You’s Theory of “Transformation From Taxation by Land to Taxation by Population in the Qin Dynasty”

WANG Shaolin

The first point of the theory of “transformation from taxation by land to taxation by population in the Qin Dynasty” in Du You’s “Tong Dian” was that “taxation was based on land before Qin”, which did not correspond to the historical reality of Pre-Qin Period. In the early Shang and Western Zhou dynasties of China, taxation was based on clan groups with strong personal attachment, rather than land; “taxation based on population” was the core characteristic of taxation at that time. After the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, the privatization of land deepened and “taxation based on land” became the content and method of the national taxes and corvee system, but the tradition of “taxation based on population” was continued. The second point of Du You’s theory was that “taxation based on population after Qin”, which was a rational summary of the taxes and corvee system of medieval countries before the Tang Dynasty. The third point was that “Qin was a turning point from taxation by land to taxation by population”, which was intended to highlight the significance of “taxation based on land” during the reign of the Three Holy Kings, and to provide historical legitimacy for the development of the tax system reform towards “taxation based on land” in the mid-Tang Dynasty.

Frictions Between Foreign Merchants and Official Shroffs After the Opening of AmoyExchanges Between Foreign Currencies and Sycee Silver


This article explores the impact of the restructuring of the Qing Dynasty’s trade management system and the circulation of silver in coastal areas by examining the frictions between British merchants and the official shroffs that collected taxes for the government after the opening of Amoy in November 1843. These shroffs only accepted foreign silver when paying taxes, but not sycee silver. Furthermore, they applied the Amoy exchange rate to exchange foreign currency for silver and refused to accept the Canton exchange rate. This behavior led to frictions between foreign merchants and the official shroffs in Amoy. After diplomatic negotiations, these shroffs eventually agreed to accept sycee silver as well as use the Canton exchange rate. From then on, the silver exchange rate for taxation at the five treaty ports was unified. The attempt by the official shroffs to use their identity advantage to control the trade and immigration operations in Southeast Asia had aroused dissatisfaction from British merchants. The Amoy merchants were finally dismissed from the official shroffs in February of 1846. Afterwards, the number of Cantonese compradors in Amoy increased, and the control of the Cantonese over the Amoy port became stronger, resulting inthe turmoil, as well as the proliferation of smuggling, piracy, and coolie trade in Amoy port in the 1840s and 1850s.


Institute of European Civilazation