Historical Geography Research ›› 2021, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (2): 57-66.

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Exploration and Analysis on the Criteria of County Tier Designation in Song Dynasty

Qi Zitong   

  1. School of Ethnology and Sociology, South-Central University for Nationalities, Wuhan 430074, China
  • Received:2020-09-07 Online:2021-05-20 Published:2021-05-20


The county system of Song Dynasty basically inherited that of Tang Dynasty, when counties were designated according to the double standards of “political status” and “registered residents”. However, it existed many differences in the county system between Tang and Song Dynasties, and the Later Zhou Dynasty played an important role in this historical evolution. In the Later Zhou Dynasty, Wang county and Jin county lost the qualification to be classified by “political status” but using registered household standard, which was inherited by Song Dynasty. Basically, it was influenced by the impact of Ci Chi county, Ci Ji county. In the early Song Dynasty, the counties under Fu (superior prefecture) were strictly classified according to their political statuses, which was in contrast with counties under Zhou (prefecture) in Later Zhou, designated by registered households. By the end of the Northern Song Dynasty, the clear-cut division pattern was broken that the counties subordinate to Ci Fu were classified according to the registered households. Also, the meanings of “registered household” was different between Tang and Song Dynasties. It meant the number of households in Tang Dynasty but the number of “main households” that paid two taxes in Song Dynasty. This was also impacted by the policies of Later Zhou Dynasty. In the early Northern Song Dynasty, the policy of county tier designation was dynamic. Till the late Northern Song Dynasty, it gave rise to the mismatch of counties with more registered households but lower county levels. Therefore, a practical solution of disparity between county tier and household registration was to raise the threshold of registered households.

Key words: Song Dynasty, registered households, county tier, Ci Chi County, Ci Ji County

CLC Number: 

  • K928