Chiefdom is the first and only form of government available in the Ancient Era. Unlike all forms of government that follow it, it does not have a unique effect or legacy bonus.
As a general rule, Chiefdom's Economic card slot is best used for God King when trying to found a pantheon and religion, Corvée when trying to rush early wonders, Colonization or Ilkum when trying to expand or develop territory quickly, and Urban Planning in all other situations.
According to anthropologists, a chiefdom is “an autonomous political unit comprising a number of villages … under the permanent control of a paramount chief.” So much for anthropological definitions. In point of fact, a chiefdom is a rigid hierarchy based on kinship, rule gained by ascribed status rather than achieved status, marked by centralized authority and pervasive inequalities. Influence, prestige and power is granted by the chief to an elite – thus making them, obviously, the elite, and his strongest supporters against all those lesser folk within and without the villages. Complaints against the status quo tend to be dealt with … harshly.
The first to write about chiefdoms was the Indian philosopher Kautilya; his 4th Century BC work notes that chiefdoms are complex social structures consisting of the chief, a warrior aristocracy, commoners, serfs and (naturally) slaves. But anthropologists argue that such structures are inherently unstable, prone to cycles of collapse and fragmentation and recreation. Rather like the Germanic chiefdoms that tore Western Rome apart. Nonetheless, chiefdoms can be of some use to more civilized sorts; the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties declared select tribal tusi to be imperial officials serving as judge, jury and usually executioner for local legal matters.
|Civilization VI Governments|