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This study of northern Taiwan during the period 1840-1895 explores the social significance of the traditional Chinese legal system and investigates how individuals utilized the courts to resolve criminal and civil disputes. The received wisdom portrays the court system as a seldom utilized, desperate last resort, and as closed except to the privileged. In reality, this book reveals that litigants included men and women of both low and high status and that local inhabitants were not slow to appeal to the court system for dispute resolution.