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[Biweekly Symposium] No. 552: Real Emperors Tend to Die--A Quantitative Research on Abnormal Death of Ancient Chinese Emperors.
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Biweekly Symposium No. 552: Real Emperors Tend to Die--A Quantitative Research on Abnormal Death of Ancient Chinese Emperors.


Lecturer:  CHEN Zhiwu


Host: SHENG Hong


Commentators: ZHOU Xiaozheng, LIU Yeijin, WU Si




Professor CHENG Zhiwu introduced his latest endeavour to undertake quantitative research into history. He emphasised that conducts of various sorts, no matter political, economic, or others all have a lot to do with the calculation of interest, cost, and benefits. Therefore, it is on this solid ground that the quantitative research is commenced.


Professor CHEN introduced that the background of his research was the evolution of civilisations. Using traditional method, such a research may become partial due to the researcher’s values, constrained to his or her personal backgrounds and conceptualisation that they were unaware of. On the contrary, by adopting quantitative methods, many economic indices were exploitable in the different dynasties and times of a civilisation, even when the institutional framework and civilisation systems remained constant. 


In Professor CHEN’s research, he picked the benchmark territory of China as in 1820 Qing Dynasty. On this vast land, he researched 109 political powers, and 658 emperors over time. And he found that the average time of reign was 186.9 years, and the longest was 459 years in power. The average amount of emperors in a dynasty was 16.3, and the average age of death of an emperor was 42.3 years old. The middle point of an emperor’s reign was 8 years. He also compared the findings with data of western European countries, and found that the odds of a Chinese emperor died a brutal and sudden death were higher than those in western European countries. Such a conclusion was hard to reach by reading Chinese history literature.


Professor ZHOU Xiaozheng spoke highly of Professor CHEN’s study. Professor LIU Yejin thought this research followed the tradition of North’s new economic history school. Mr. WU Si thought this type of research answered many important questions such as what type of society the modern Chinese society was.




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