UBC Theses and Dissertations
Ming maritime governance and the Suppression of Lin Feng Lin, Calvin
Piracy in Ming China during the 1560s and 1570s, while not frequently discussed, posed a unique maritime problem for officials to tackle. One threat they faced in this period was Lin Feng (active 1568–1580s), a pirate appearing on the coasts of Guangdong and Fujian provinces since the early Longqing period (1567–1572). Lin Feng was constantly seen clashing with the Ming military and had considerable influence; in 1574, he even sailed to Luzon, part of the modern-day Philippines, and appointed himself as the lord there. Eventually, he was evicted back to the Ming coasts, where the military suppressed his forces in 1576, early in the reign of the Wanli emperor (1572–1620). Previous scholars have noted Lin Feng’s trans-local impacts and portrayed him as a cultural broker between imperial China and the Philippines. What they neglected to do, however, was treat the conflicts and encounters he shared with officials as instances of Ming maritime governance. To revisit the case of Lin Feng from a political perspective, this thesis uses records from gazetteers, Ming shilu, memorials, legal codes, and letters. It places him with Longqing and Wanli officials to trace the complex processes through which officials reached their decisions. This thesis presents four seemingly separate incidents involving Lin Feng and various Ming officials that became the milestones of the Suppression of Lin Feng, the campaign to eliminate his forces. Each of the officials discussed in these examples came from diverse backgrounds with varying levels of prestige. Yet they were all, as this thesis argues, motivated by two kinds of factors interwoven with each other: structural—the broader political, geographic, social, and economic contexts as well as the experience of their predecessors—and personal—opportunities to keep their careers or elevate their statuses while gaining material benefits. Making this argument can help this thesis highlight the paramount roles that officials played in this campaign and, in doing so, offer new understandings of Lin Feng as a historical character and position county and provincial-level officials as being integral to creating and enforcing policies for Ming maritime governance.
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