Why did ancient peasants prefer to be exploited by landlords rather than reclaim wasteland?

 Why did ancient peasants prefer to be exploited by landlords rather than reclaim wasteland?

But in the movies, TV plays and historical books, we can see the misfortune and poverty of the ancient poor who were oppressed by landlords. They are often exploited, and their pay is not directly proportional to their income.

Moreover, in feudal society, all dynasties attached great importance to agriculture and restrained commerce, and the peasants were second only to the literati. In terms of policy, farmers were encouraged to reclaim wasteland, and tax exemption and rewards were given.

First of all, you have to have land.

In ancient times, although the land was vast and sparsely populated and wasteland was everywhere, it was the land of kings under the whole world. It doesnt mean that the government allows you to reclaim wasteland. Although the government occasionally mobilizes the poor to reclaim wasteland, it is mostly in times of famine, and not everyone can meet such a policy.

On the other hand, in ancient times, social productivity was very low, and there was neither transportation tools nor irrigation equipment. Generally, cultivated land is close to the water source to facilitate irrigation, or collectively dig wells and build ditches to ensure the irrigation of grain. The cultivated land near the water source has been basically developed.

Therefore, even if the policy allows, they can only go far from the water source for reclamation, and such land is generally not suitable for planting grain. Of course, you can also go to remote and uninhabited areas to look for water sources and open up land. But in this way, housing becomes a problem. Either walk back and forth ten miles a day to plant the land, or build a house nearby. But this time cost, material cost, is not an ordinary farmer can afford.

Even if youre lucky enough to apply for a piece of fertile land near the water source, theres a big problem you have to solve:

Although there were no tractors, harvesters and other labor equipment in ancient times, it was obviously impossible to open up the wasteland with both hands. You had to have tools. Take the just needed farm cattle as an example, which is not a small expense.

The market price of cattle fluctuates with the times. Take the Song Dynasty as an example, song Huiyao records that the average price of an ox in the early Northern Song Dynasty was about three Guan Qian. In the middle and late period, it soared to 10 Guan Qian, and even more so in the Southern Song Dynasty. It remained at the high price level of 40 Guan Qian a cow for a long time. In extraordinary times, it even rose to the price of 100 Guan.

This may not sound like a concept, but a comparison of the salary of officials at that time shows what the price is.

In the early Northern Song Dynasty, the monthly salary of ordinary civil servants was usually 10 Guan Qian. During the reign of emperor Renzong of the Song Dynasty, the highest monthly salary was 15 Guan.

Therefore, even in the official family, buying cattle can only be achieved by saving for a few months without eating or drinking. It is even more difficult for ordinary farmers to buy cattle.

However, it doesnt matter if you cant afford it. As long as you have the right age, the state can control it!

For example, when Zhu Yuanzhang was in power in the early Ming Dynasty, in order to fully recover the economy, he allocated funds to buy farm cattle four times and distributed them to the northern reclamation farmers. Each time, the scale was tens of thousands of heads, and large distribution of farm cattle became a common practice.

To Yongle years, not only to send cattle, but also to send you matching tools!

Just think about it, isnt it? But in ancient China, the fragility of small-scale peasant economy can be understood by leading cattle?

Take the Song Dynasty as an example, the commodity economy was extremely prosperous in the Song Dynasty, and the intensive farming technology was unprecedented developed, but in the end, even the government could not afford to raise cattle.


Therefore, in the Song Dynasty, renting cattle farmland was a very common phenomenon in rural areas. Even in the 1990s, several families raised one cow together in rural areas, and those who could raise one cow alone were called big families.

Even if someone is lucky enough to solve all difficulties and successfully open up wasteland, will they be able to live a pastoral life of feeding horses, chopping firewood and watering farmland?

Its not so easy.

We should know that tyranny as fierce as a tiger is not a random story in the book. The exploitation of the feudal dynasty is enough to make an ordinary farmer unable to bear it.

As we mentioned earlier, in order to develop the farming economy, the imperial court also issued preferential policies to encourage farmers, but this is only a short-term one. As long as the time comes, there will be no less than one cent of the rent and tax that should be collected.

In addition to the daily two taxes, more than a dozen items, such as farm tools, cattle hide, salt and iron, should be paid with additional taxes. The well-to-do families with a little bit of money have to be taken to labor. This is why there were more than 400 peasant uprisings in the three centuries during the Song Dynasty.

According to the truth, in the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, Emperor Taizu of the Ming Dynasty, sent cattle and complete sets of tools to encourage farming, and in the early Ming Dynasty was known as light corvee and meager tax. At this time, farmers life should be more prosperous and very happy, right.

In fact, it was true in the early stage, but in the middle and late Ming Dynasty, it was time to come. Not only did taxes rise unconsciously, but also they changed ways to increase tax collection.

For example, in the Hongzhi period of the Ming Dynasty, the southeast region increased the rural taxes by more than 50 kinds of additional taxes through conversion. During the Wanli period, it increased more than threefold again.

The land is still there, but the tax is like a snowball. The more you collect, the more you collect, the more you will suffer.

As a result, tens of thousands of peasants who could not pay taxes were reduced to tenant farmers, who could only work hard for the landlords to support their families.

The southern tenant farmers have been unable to sustain themselves, and the situation of peasants in the north with low productivity is even worse!

The poor peasants were so poor that they could not even afford to eat, but they had to pay heavy taxes to the landlords.


In the 21st century, why dont the poor go to work for the capital instead of being their own boss?

Its not that they dont want to, but most of them have no choice.

(function(){( window.slotbydup=window .slotbydup||[]).push({id:u5811557,container:ssp_ 5811557, async:true }This article is from Lin Qihui, editor in charge_ NB13068