Introduction

Robert Hegel's book True Crimes in Eighteenth-Century China: Twenty Case Histories presents a sample of crime reports from eighteenth-century China in English translation. All are capital crimes. Since all capital crimes might carry the death penalty, detailed reports of all levels of investigation had to be forwarded to the Emperor for his final decision on sentencing. Capital crimes required investigation and review at local, prefectural, provincial, and central levels of the imperial Qing period (1644-1911) administration. These reports include information about the victims and what happened to them, testimony from the accused and various witnesses, and official correspondence between judicial officials about the crimes.

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