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Drawing on archival records of actual cases, this study provides a new understanding of late imperial and Republican Chinese law. It also casts a new light on Chinese law by emphasizing rural areas and by comparing the old and the new.;The book asks the question: What changes occurred and what remained the same in Chinese civil justice from the Qing to the Republic? Civil justice is here interpreted to mean not only codified law but also actual legal practice. Since the consequences of court actions frequently differed from the code s intent, this book also addresses the question of how legal practice mediated between code and custom. It aims to track the developing history of the legal system and to discover what it meant in the lives of the Chinese people.