In the ancient times of usury, how could ordinary people borrow money safely?

In the ancient times of usury, how could ordinary people borrow money safely?

When we watch police and gangsters and suspense films, we often see plots of “hostage kidnapping”, where fierce and violent criminals catch fearful and powerless women and children in order to threaten the police in order to achieve “bargaining for objects”. Attempt. In such a scenario, we generally call the threatened person a “hostage”. However, why is the hostage called a “hostage”?

In the ancient times of usury, how could ordinary people borrow money safely?

We usually call the kidnapped “hostage”. Picture source/TV series “Wishful Fangfei”

In fact, the concept of hostages appeared as early as the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period. “Zuo Zhuan · Yin Gong Three Years” recorded the exchange of hostages between Zheng Zhuanggong and Zhou Ping. From this point of view, hostages are established on the premise of exchange. The word “hostage” in “hostages” has the meaning of transaction and mortgage. With reference to the explanation of “Shuowen Jiezi”, “quality” means “subject to matter”. “Superfluous” means.

Then we can infer that “quality” is obviously related to the commodity economy in ancient China. For example, the sales contract in the Western Zhou Dynasty is called the “pledge”, and the management contract is called the “pledger”. If we want to trade with the ancients, the first step is to find a pledger.

Pledgor and pledge pool, from relief to huge profits

According to the “Zhou Li”, China had a contract system as early as the Western Zhou Dynasty. The chapter in the “Land Officer” records that “Pledgors” are actually a profession, and they are equivalent to modern market managers who are responsible for handling official transactions in the Western Zhou Dynasty. The so-called “grand market is quality, small market is remedy”, the pledgor’s business includes not only small items, but also large-value transactions such as cattle, horses, farms, etc. The transaction contract is called the “qualifier”, and the loan contract is called the “fu do not”.

As an official market manager, the pledgor can be regarded as a member of the economic management system of the Western Zhou Dynasty. According to the records of the “Zhou Li·Diguan”, the Western Zhou government set up the “Quan Mansion” as an institution to “handle the city”. Those who collect goods from the market, do not sell goods in the market, and who do not sell goods for civilian use” are responsible for the control of national taxation, the purchase of unsalable materials on the market, and the receiving and dispatching of loans and interest.

In the ancient times of usury, how could ordinary people borrow money safely?

“Zhou Li” book and shadow.

So, if we want to borrow from the ancients, the Western Zhou Dynasty actually provided us with a relatively safe official way . Generally speaking, the Western Zhou regime’s loan forms are divided into “credit” and “loan”: “credit” is mainly for sacrificial and funeral matters, and only requires regular repayment without interest; while “loan” is specifically for labor producers. “Zhou Li” says: “The people who lend to the people, instead of giving it to the national service, they need to accrue interest.” In fact, in order to stabilize the people’s situation and consolidate the political power, the Western Zhou Dynasty often issued interest-free loans to the people, which was equivalent to a kind of relief and assistance, and interest-bearing loans were relatively few. However, if we want to borrow interest-bearing loans, how can the interest be calculated?

The primary consideration for calculating interest in the Western Zhou Dynasty is the geographical distance. If you live in a city, the state levies one-twentieth, that is, an annual interest rate of 5%. If you live in a suburban area, you levy one-tenth of it. By analogy, the annual interest rate ranges from 10% to 20% . With reference to our country’s current laws and regulations, basically an annual interest rate of more than 20% is usury. If you live in the outer suburbs of Western Zhou Dynasty, it is equivalent to borrowing usury from Zhou Tianzi.

However, in ancient China, the 20% interest is just the beginning.

During the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, with the emergence of the metal currency-gold, the claws of ancient Chinese usury extended to the people. The turmoil brought about by the war, famines, and excessive expropriation by the rulers of various countries have brought down the unresistible civilians, and the demand for borrowing is soaring. At the same time, wealthy businessmen and bureaucrats with large amounts of wealth have become the main ones. Lenders. There are two main forms of lending: currency and grain. Taking Qi as an example, “Guanzi·Lightweight” records that the grain lending interest rate in the southern part of Qi is “a few hundred and five out of ten”, that is, the annual rate is 50%. The interest rate is as high as 100%.

Generally speaking, loans in emergency situations such as wars and famines are mostly high interest rates. Until the Han Dynasty, when politics was relatively stable, the problem of usury had not been alleviated. In the Han Dynasty, there even appeared merchant groups specializing in usury——” Zi Qian Family”. “Historical Records · The Biographies of Commodities” records that in the third year of Emperor Han Jing, the Seven Kingdoms of Wu and Chu rebelled. Liehou and Fengjun in the city of Chang’an borrowed money from the Ziqian family in order to join the army. The Wuyan family “donated a thousand-dollar loan, and the interest would be nothing.” Three months later, the chaos of the Seven Kingdoms was quickly quelled, and Wu Yan’s profit was ten times in a year, with interest rates as high as 1,000%.

Obviously, under the above-mentioned situation, borrowing has become an important means for wealthy businessmen and landlords to accumulate social wealth. On the contrary, ordinary people who are unable to repay usury often end up in the predicament of displacement and family destruction. In order to change this situation, there was a provision in the Qin Law to pay off debts through service, and the common people could repay their debts by mortgage or service. During the Wei, Jin and Southern and Northern Dynasties, the Northern Wei Dynasty also began to issue regulations prohibiting the collection of profits. The earliest mortgage institution in China, the mass bank, also emerged with the prevalence of Buddhism at this time. The mass bank used mortgage, loan, and interest collection. The economic pressure on civilians has been suspended.

Compared with private usury, it is clear that the authority and stability of the mass pool provide a higher security guarantee for borrowers.

So before the appearance of the mass pool, if you want to borrow money from the ancients safely, the second step needs to be noted is that please do not appear in any of the above dynasties.

Examination and accusation, the prosperity of the monastery economy in the Sui and Tang Dynasties

In ancient China, Tang was a relatively prosperous and prosperous society, and its commodity economy had basically deviated from the early natural economic form and entered a stage of vigorous development. From the perspective of the loan contracts preserved in Dunhuang and Turpan, we can find that the contract system of the Sui and Tang Dynasties obviously has a higher sense of protection, such as detailed records of the creditor’s identity, debtor’s identity, contract establishment time, the reason and total amount of the loan, and the repayment period. . However, a small question arises here: Why is the loan contract kept in Dunhuang and Turpan, which is famous for its Buddhist scriptures ?

In fact, the development of the loan system in the Sui and Tang dynasties is directly related to Buddhist monasteries.

The Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties were a time when ancient Chinese religions were popular. Buddhism was especially popular in the Northern Wei Dynasty. Since Emperor Xiaowen, there has been an upsurge in building temples. As the number of monasteries increased, the religious power of monasteries gradually developed. Until the Sui and Tang Dynasties, under the support of the ruling group, the monasteries quickly developed their own unique economic system-the monastery landlord manor, referred to as “monastery”. 

In the ancient times of usury, how could ordinary people borrow money safely?

Buddhist culture prevailed in the Tang Dynasty. Source/Screenshot of TV series “Living Buddha Ji Gong”

The key to the establishment of the temple is the land. The Tang Dynasty ruled that the land was distributed according to the population. The temple was an important spiritual sacred land. The royal family often rewarded the temple’s land, and the nobles, wealthy and other believers would also donate the land to the temple. The land area has increased, gradually forming a manor-like economic form. Generally speaking, large temples and villages have farmland, vegetable gardens, forest orchards, and some also have water channels and various handicraft workshops. In addition, there are many villagers who will attach to the temple and undertake labor and production work, which is generally called ” “Pure Man” “Trilogy”.

Under this system, the monastery formed a self-sufficient economic form, and the monks in the monastery had a generous wealth base, which was sufficient to provide relief and loans to the common people. “Ten Chanting Laws” once recorded: “Take the pagodas to produce interest, and the Buddha’s words: listen to it.” This shows that the ancient Buddhist law allows monks to use Buddhist property to “produce interest”, which means borrowing money for profit. Beginning in the Wei and Jin Dynasties, the monastery’s treasury also developed its own form of loan sharking capital, mainly pawns, also known as “qualification”. “Southern History · Zhenfa Chong Biography” records a story that reveals the phenomenon of monastery pawns in Buddhist temples in the Southern Dynasties: “Fa Chong Sun Bin, Bin has an industry, the township party praises goodness, taste a bunch of ramie for the state. The money from the Changsha Temple Treasury will be redeemed and the ramie will be returned. You will get fifty taels of gold in the ramie bundle and wrap it in a handkerchief. Binde, return it to the Temple Treasure.

From this point of view, secoo pawns were a ubiquitous and large-scale mortgage system in the Sui and Tang Dynasties. In fact, the Tang Dynasty had a relatively complete set of regulations for the lending industry. First of all, the Tang dynasty imposed a certain degree of control on interest. For example, the “Miscellaneous Order” records that “interest-bearing loans must not exceed six points per month. Although there are many accumulated days, it must not be doubled… “This” and other restrictions.

Secondly, the Tang Dynasty also had some guarantee systems against borrowing risks, which respectively protected the rights and interests of creditors or debtors. For example, the borrowing contract needed to add an insurer to compensate in case of default. In addition, there are restrictions on remuneration for service, seizure of family wealth, and so on. What is worth mentioning is the mortgage system. The mortgage is called “referred pledge”. The debtor’s real estate and movable property can be used as collateral, and can even be pledged as a guarantee for the loan contract. If the debtor cannot pay off the due debt, then the hostage Become the slave of the creditor.

Obviously, compared with the war era, the Sui and Tang dynasties were indeed a relatively good choice for borrowing, but it should be remembered that although the lending system in the Sui and Tang dynasties has been quite standardized, the lending rate is still usury compared with modern society, especially there are many Non-government borrowing that is ignored by the government. For example, according to the survey on the currency interest rate of private loans in the Tang Dynasty based on the “Contracts of the Past in China”, one of them stated that “a piece of money will be collected, and a piece of money will be made every month.” That is, the annual interest rate is as high as 120%.

Therefore, if you want to borrow in the Sui and Tang dynasties, it is obvious that you must be careful to avoid lightning and prevent usury, especially the unreliable private institutions.

Then, the third step of borrowing from the ancients, we need to find some relatively authoritative and standardized large institutions .

The success or failure of Wang Anshi’s reform of the government-run lending institutions in the Northern Song Dynasty

In the second year of Xining (1069) , in order to change the situation of poverty and weakness since the founding of the Northern Song Dynasty, Wang Anshi implemented a series of political measures for the purpose of “financing” and “integrating the army”, which promoted the development of the loan industry in the Song Dynasty, so it was unique in the Song Dynasty. The official lending institutions of China-Inspection School Library, Dadang Library and City Yiwu were established.

The Song Dynasty lending institutions seem to be more regulated than other dynasties, so can we borrow from Song people safely and smoothly? The inspection library, the Dandang library, and the city Yiwu seem to have different duties. Where should they go? It is worth noting that the business overlap of the three is actually very high, and the development between them has a close relationship.

First of all, the inspection and school library is a kind of inspection and school system to protect the inheritance of orphans and children’s property in Song Dynasty. In the fourth year of Xining of Song Shenzong (1071) , with the unfolding of Wang Anshi’s reform, in order to preserve and increase the value of orphans and children’s property, the inspection and treasury also carried out lending and interest collection business. “Interest”, through mortgage loans, the government uses interest money to subsidize the daily expenses of orphans and children. From this point of view, the school library for orphans does not seem to be a suitable place for us to borrow. However, this is actually a place where government officials take the opportunity to lend money and earn interest.

At the same time that the school inspection library opened to lend and collect interest, the central departments of the Kaifeng government saw that the school inspection library could generate interest and profit, so they successively deposited the funds of their respective departments into the inspection school library and entrusted the loan to earn interest. So in the first month of the fifth year of Xining (1072) , with the increase in the loan cost of the inspection and school treasury, Song Shenzong ordered a special bureau to transfer the interest money payment, so the institution specializing in the management of the loan business-Dangtang appeared Up.

According to the “Song Hui Yao” record: “The capital was set up in four places, and Xu used gold and silk as cash, and the monthly interest was one cent.” That is, the annual rate was 12%. Compared with the private private banks at the time, the annual rate was generally 30% to 50%. In time, this seems to be the lowest interest calculation after the Western Zhou Dynasty. Obviously, borrowing from the resistance is a more cost-effective and safer choice.

However, life will not always let you get what you want easily.

In the 6th year of Xining (1073), Dandang was placed under the jurisdiction of Dutiju City Yisi, which was basically merged with Shiyiwu, and its business was gradually replaced by Shiyi Dandang. Shiyiwu is an agency established under the arrangement of Wang’anshi Yifa. It is equivalent to an official large-scale trading platform. The government allocates millions of internal treasury money every year as the capital of the Yiyi. It is necessary to purchase goods from merchants and then loan them to bankers for distribution. Therefore, large merchants can borrow money here, and small and medium-sized retailers can credit goods. Regardless of whether the loan or credit goods are mortgaged by other industries such as real estate or gold and silver, the interest is two cents of the annual interest, which is equivalent to 20% of the annual interest. In addition, 10% of the interest is required to be used for the government’s expenses.

In this way, if we go to Yiwu to borrow money, even though it is an official platform, the interest calculation will even catch up with the private bank. The terrible thing is that there is a huge loophole-the “extra expenses” of the official. Take the market trade as an example. The wholesale and retail income of the market trade is not actually under the national financial management, but is controlled by the municipal trade officials. Then the character of the officials has become the most critical link between the large merchants and the retail merchants. The reality in the Northern Song Dynasty was that most officials used the trading capital to “buy” goods at low prices from merchants, and then “sell them at high prices” to retailers. As a result, all the principal and interest of the credit loan that should have been borne by Shiyiwu in this process were passed on to small and medium-sized retailers, while the profit difference earned by buying cheap and selling at high prices was left to the private pockets of officials.

In fact, similar problems also appeared in Wang Anshi’s Young Crop Law, where officials forced loans and grains, and households were restrained from allocating young crops and forced to pay interest. Wang Anshi’s reform is like a double-edged sword. On the one hand , it suppressed the rampant private usury and made profits for the government. On the other hand, it became a tool for officials to arbitrarily satisfy their greed. However, in this struggle, The common people are always the victims.

It seems that it is not easy to borrow money safely and smoothly in the Song Dynasty, so is it possible in the Yuan Dynasty?

Not really.

In 1279, the Great Mongolia completely defeated the Southern Song government in exile and established a minority regime. At the same time, it brought the great demon of usury-Moroqian.

Good-out money was run by a group of Hui merchants who specialized in granting usury in the Yuan Dynasty. How high was this kind of usury? There is a scene in Guan Hanqing’s “Dou E’s Injustice” describing that Dou E’s father borrowed 20 taels of silver from others and had to pay 40 taels a year later. His father could not repay and had to send Dou E as a child bride. The evil of bad lending is that the annual interest rate is often as high as 100%. In addition to the interest rate that is doubled, the arbitrariness of lenders is too high. A large number of private loans still have serious compound interest calculation problems, that is, the interest is included in the calculation. After the principal recalculates interest, it is called “lamb interest”.

In the ancient times of usury, how could ordinary people borrow money safely?

Dou E played by Wang Xiulan. Source/Film “Dou E’s Injustice” stills

The usury in the Yuan Dynasty was like a snowball. The steeper the slope, the snowball rolled bigger and faster, and it seemed that there would never be an end in sight before it was crushed. In any case, as long as usury exists, it proves that the civilians are still unable to escape the economic difficulties under the feudal system. A survey of ancient Chinese lending conditions, even if the control is strict, the lending institution is perfect, and the interest rate is low, the civilians will always be in distress , There is no escape.

In the ancient times of usury, how could ordinary people borrow money safely?

Hu Xueyan played by Chen Daoming. Source/TV series “Hu Xueyan” stills

Looking back and thinking about it carefully, borrowing from the ancients is indeed quite risky. Generally speaking, the control of ancient lending institutions is too immature, the security guarantee is too low, and the interest rate is too high. Especially when the creditor comes to collect debts, it is really impossible to escape one alive. Robbed.

Then, if you still want to borrow from the ancients safely and smoothly, please refer to the second step of the ancient lending instructions:

“Please do not appear in any of the above dynasties.”

Reference materials:

Liu Qiugen: “A Discussion on the Origin and Development of Usury in Ancient China”, “Dangsho and Dangku in Song Dynasty”

“On the Private Usury Capital in the Yuan Dynasty” “On the Government-run Usury Capital in the Yuan Dynasty”

Long Yi: “Analysis of the Evolution of the Ancient Chinese Contract System”

Lei Yanqiang: “Research on the Interest Rate of Private Borrowing in Ancient China”

Luo Li: “On Temple Economy”

Lin Li: “Analysis of the Origin of Mass Pool in the Southern and Northern Dynasties”

Wang Wenshu: “Song Dynasty Loan Industry Research”

Wei Tianan: “The Business Model of City Yifa in Song Dynasty”

Fang Baozhang: “A Brief Discussion on the Disadvantages of the Young Crop Law in Song Dynasty”

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