This book is a study of the dual capital system of Ming dynasty China (1368-1644), with a focus on the administrative functions of the auxiliary Southern Capital, Nanjing. It argues that the immense geographical expanse of the Chinese empire and the poor communication infrastructure of pre-modern times necessitated the establishment of an additional capital administration for effective control of the Ming realm. The existence of the Southern Capital, which has been dismissed by scholars as redundant and insignificant, was, the author argues, justified by its ability to assist the primary Northern Capital better control the southern part of the imperial land. The practice of maintaining auxiliary capitals, where the bureaucratic structures of the primary capital were replicated in varying degrees, was a unique and valuable approach to effecting bureaucratic control over vast territory in pre-modern conditions. Nanjing translates into English as "Southern Capital" and Beijing as "Northern Capital".
"This work makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the workings of the Ming state beyond Beijing … Fang’s study is well grounded in a meticulous examination of his sources. I certainly learned much from it, and would have no hesitation in recommending it as an important addition to any Chinese studies library collection."
Stephen McDowall, University of Edinburgh
Introduction 1. The Secondary Capital System in Imperial China 2. Ministers and Eunuchs: The Southern Capital Administration 3. Patronage, Proving Ground, and Punishment: The Political Functions of the Southern Capital 4. Center of Wealth: The Financial Functions of the Southern Capital 5. Southern Stronghold: The Military Functions of the Southern Capital 6. Conclusion