Many Innocent People


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many innocent people The Death of woman Wang

The Death of Woman Wang, by Jonathan Spence is an educational historical novel of northeastern China during the seventeenth century. The author's focus was to enlighten a reader on the Chinese people, culture, and traditions. Spence's use of the provoking stories of the Chinese county T'an-ch'eng, in the province of Shantung, brings the reader directly into the course of Chinese history. The use of the sources available to Spence, such as the Local History of T'an-ch'eng, the scholar-official Huang Liu-hung's handbook and stories of the writer P'u Sung-Ling convey the reader directly into the lives of poor farmers, their workers and wives. The intriguing structure of The Death of Woman Wang consists on observing these people working on the land, their family structure, and their local conflicts.
Chapter one, The Observers, in the Death of Woman Wang demonstrates the accuracy of the local historian; Feng K'o-ts'an, who compiled The Local History of T'an-ch'eng in 1673. The descriptive context of the Local History helps the reader to understand and literally penetrate into people's lives. The use of records of the earthquake of 1668, the White Lotus rising of 1622 and rebels rising vividly described by Feng the extent of suffering the people of T'an-ch'eng went through. Jonathan Spence stresses on how miserable the two-quarter of the seventeen-century were to the diminishing population of the county.  The earthquake claimed the lives of nine thousand people, many others died in the White lotus rising, hunger, sickness and banditry. P'u Sung-ling's stories convey that after the loss of the wheat crops there were cases of cannibalism. On top of all of this came the slaughtering of the entire family lines by the bandits. The incredible records of women like Yao and Sun in the Local History present the reader the magnitude of savagery the bandits possessed.  All of these factors led to the rise of suicides. The clarity of events Spence given to the reader is overwhelming.
On the other hand, Spence losses his reader as he introduces the spread of Confucius and other superstitious believes through out the county.  He states that the Local History states that people became unusually superstitious in parts of T'an-ch'eng. Later on he presents the Confucianism and it influence. Confusion especially occurs then he quotes from many different sources and chapters. For instance during the exams of 1669, students were presented with quotes from different chapters, which were supposed to be placed in correct context. An entire paragraph mentions chapters, books and names without any logical order. Of course this may have occurred because of the limited knowledge I have about these chapters.    
Spence gives a reader a clear insight in T'an-ch'eng's economy and it's economic policies in chapter two, The Land. T'an-ch'eng government had a rather simple philosophy, the more you made the more you paid. The taxes were paid based on percentage of what you made or volunteer to work for the government. The government did take interest in its taxpayers only then people were unable to pay at all.  Local History showed that there was a schedule of nine tax payments.  People paid more during the harvest seasons and less during the hottest midsummer months.  Structured Chinese government devised a responsible and supervisory system, which insured that the taxes were collected at full without any spillovers. Theft and cheating was a common occurrence at city's market, thus government officials created collecting points for the farmers to avoid direct contact with middlemen. All of the factors presented by Spence give the reader a closer look on the financial struggle of an ordinary seventeenth century farmer.
Furthermore, in part tree, The Widow, Spence urges the reader of woman's values and her characteristics in T'an-ch'eng county. Through the Local History Spence defines the meaning of property in the seventeen century China. Women like any other piece of property belonged to their alive husbands. Unfortunately, because of the levels of disasters in the county, population of males dropped from 40,002 to 9881 males, leaving a lot of helpless widows. Because of the Legal Code in the county, widows alone had a little chance to inherit deceased husband's property. Spence's vivid use of P'eng's story opens the readers eyes ... more

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Sir William Wallace


The Help of Sir William Wallace
Sir William Wallace is one of Scotlands greatest generals and was a great help towards the freedom of Scotland because he brought patriotism to the minds of his fellow Scotsmen in order fight for the freedom for which was nearly taken away by the their English neighbors.  He would ride through Scotland gathering clans both from the high and lowlands.  Over the years after his death, Scots have proclaimed Sir William Wallace as their countries hero and the man who made freedom run through the blood of so many who were by his side.
Hundreds of years before the time of Sir William Wallace, Roman troops tried to conquer parts of Scotland but failed.  The savagery of the Scots put the fear in the Romans and caused them to build Hadrians Wall.  The wall separated Scotland and England (which was part of the Roman Empire).  When the great empire fell to destruction by many Germanic tribes, Scots began to live a more peaceful life.  During the Norman conquest of 1066, a group of people called the Normans invaded England, killed many Anglo-Saxon and Celtic tribes, and took over the country.  England was now under Norman rule and would stay that way.  (Comptons Home Encyclopedia CD Rom)
In 1296, English troops invaded the lowlands of Scotland burning villages, killing innocent Scots, and trying to over rule the vast countrysides of the lowlands and the highlands.  The new ruler of England, King Edward I the Long Shanks, started all this.  


He believed that he should have control of the whole island itself.  His idea about conquering Scotland was that if he cant beat them out, then he could breed them out.  He brought the old English custom called Prima Noctes; if a woman is married in the country of Scotland, an English lord has every right to take her away from her husband for a few days and have his ways with her.  Clans of lowlanders came together to form an army.  It took awhile for the highlanders to know about this.  Conflicts brook out between the Scottish rebels and English troops.  Bows and arrows and other combat weapons were taken from the Scots except for their swords and axes.  (Comptons Home Encyclopedia CD Rom)
The answer to Scotlands problems came with the birth of William Wallace.  His exact date of birth is unknown but he was born in the 1270s.  As a young man, he quickly became educated by having his father, Malcolm Wallace, deciding for William to move to France with his uncle to have a better education.  At the age of 18, Wallace moved back to Scotland hoping to see his father and two brothers (Malcolm Jr. and John).  The hope of his would come to an end when he found out that his father and brothers were killed in battle during a revolt in Southern Scotland.  Anger immerged in the young Scotsman.  In the movie Braveheart, he had vengeance towards the English for the death of his wife, but that was all false.  He was never married. (Battle of the Clans on the History Channel)


At a bar (Town unknown) an English man started to insult Wallace causing the frustrating young man to kill him.  He was an outlaw after the incident. Wallace became revengeful to the English and traveled from town to town, village to village gathering a
band of followers and clans from both the highlands and the lowlands.  They began the struggle against the English rule of Edward I.  Gradually the number of Wallaces followers grew, as they all headed farther south from the highlands to fight the massive English army.  (Battle of the Clans on the History Channel)
September. 11, 1297, William Wallace and his army full of clans marched to attack English troops at Stirling.  They charged over the bridge leading to the city and clashed against the enemys forces.  Bloody it was, but it paid off.  They defeated and almost destroyed the English army at Stirling, and drove the enemy entirely out of Scotland.  This devastated and brought fear in the whole northern part of England.  As a reward for his victory, patriotism, and courage, Wallace became knighted and ... more

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