Studies of peasant rebellions in China are significant because of the key role such disturbances have played in Chinese history. Merely from the point of view of numbers one is impressed by the many references to agrarian violence in the historical records of the various dynasties. To be sure, usually these outbreaks were short-lived, but at times they reached such serious proportions as to become one of the major causes for the fall of a dynasty. Furthermore, as is well known, two major dynasties, the Han and the Ming, were founded by peasant rebels.
The author is Assistant Professor of Far Eastern History and Culture at the Riverside Campus of the University of California.