A universal guide for China studies

Chinese History - Jin Dynasty 金 (1115-1234)

Encoding: Unicode (UTF-8) [Location: HOME > History > Jin (Jurchen) > economy][bottom]

Jin Dynasty

period before (Five Dynasties)
-- Song Dynasty
-- Liao Dynasty
-- Xixia Empire
next period (Yuan)
Map and Geography

As a pastural people that often undertook rides to the neighboring states and communities, the Jurchen employed slaves (criminals or war captives) as an important source of their economical output. During the course of the sinification of the Jurchen the system of slavery was given up, especially in the southern parts of the Jin empire where the Jurchen nobility sold their slaves, and where it was unpossible to further exert a slavery system within an environment that traditionally was characterized by a free peasantry. The second reason for the abolishment of slavery system was that the Jurchen imperium, that had expanded very quickly within only a decade, had to be governed by a more sophisticated administration system that ensured a larger state income, while the slavery system only served the interests of the single Jurchen warriors. Marxist historians describe this social change as the development the slaveholder society to the feudal society whose representant was imperial China.
The northern part of China, especially the Central Plain (Zhongyuan 中原) along the Yellow River, had suffered badly through the ages, and the war between Jin, Khitan and the Northern Song Dynasty brought another period of disturbance to this geographical area. Meanwhile, the prosperous economy of the Song government mainly developed in the Lower Yangtse area (Jiangnan) where the Song government had fled after 1127. After the Prince of Hailing 海陵王 had shifted the capital to modern Beijing (hence called the "Southern Capital" of Jin, Zhongjing 中京), a large proportion of the Chinese population was admonished to settle down around the new capital. The economic center of the Jin empire thus shifted more to the north, and the Non-Chinese population of this area (Jurchen, Khitan, Bohai 渤海) gradually became sinified and adopted Chinese customs and language.
Peasants had to pay a poll tax (per cow, not per human) after the foundation of the empire (niutoushui 牛頭稅). With the adaption of the Song Dynasty administration system the double-tax system was introduced ("regular tax", zhengshui 正稅), and peasants had to pay tax in summer and in autumn, according to the size of their land. The use to lease fields (zudian 租佃) to tenant farmers became normal under the rule of Jin Shizong 金世宗. The experience of the Tang and Song rulers had been that there was a tendency for peasants to sell their land and to engage as tenant farmers that were not tax liable. Therefore, the Jin rulers several times undertook land reforms to redistribute fields and estates, and to restrict the size of the land acquired by the Jurchen warriors (shoutian 受田). Agriculture was of great importance for nourishment and for the income of the state household, and although the Jurchen themselves had been a nomadic cattlebreeding ethnic, most of their subjects were peasants, not only the Chinese, but also the Khitan and Xi 奚. Laws stimulated the Jurchen landowners to open untilled fields and to engage in agricultural activities. Of course, horsebreeding still was an important issue of farming activities of the Jurchen nomad people.
A further tax source was trade, and most goods were taxed with a kind of value added tax of three percent and lfeng). The four secondary capitals were governed by a Regent (Liushou 留守).
In the first decades of the Jin realm, the military activities were exerted by the companies and battalions of the tribal organization. Liao and Chinese military units were incorporated in their original shape. During the campaigns against the Song Dynasty a Bureau of Military Affairs (Shumiyuan 樞密院) was created that should later act as the highest administration unit of the former Song territories. The highest military commanders were marshals (yuanshuai 元帥). The southern battalions and companies gradually transformed into civilian administration units, but in the north, more garrisons (zhen 鎮) were kept intact as means of defense against the northwestern Mongol and Tatar federations. The imperial guards were called hezha mouke 合札謀克.
Law codexes were promulgated after the Jin imperium had grown to the south, Emperor Jin Xizong 金熙宗 promulgated the Huangtongzhi 皇統制 codex, Prince Hailing 海陵王 the Xuxiang zhishu 續降制書 codex. Many articles were treating the possession of slaves. Imitating the Tang codex Tanglü shuyi 唐律疏義, Emperor Jin Zhangzong 金章宗 promulgated the Mingchang 明昌律義 and Taihe lüyi 泰和律義 codexes.

Go back to the Jin Dynasty introduction page and learn more about Jin Dynasty economy, arts, literature, government...

[HOME and sitemap: ][top]