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Legalism is a social policy in Civilization V. It is part of the Tradition tree. In Brave New World it requires Oligarchy.

The introduction of a strict code of laws to govern the populace and its interaction with the central power puts an end to many abuses of power and translates immediately into a more stable society. The people express their gratitude by undertaking great works of culture in the empire's main cities - thus the first four of these receive a free cultural building.

Game Info[]


Legalism is a great Policy for early development. In most early cases, the empire's first four cities will get a free Monument, and start expanding borders immediately! Not only that, but the Production Production can be contributed to build other buildings and/or units, instead of losing time to build Monuments. This is often an early game Policy (rushed towards by opening the tree, then adopting Oligarchy), unless the leader intends to build one of the early Wonders with Aristocracy.

Detailed information on policy effect

The "free culture building" in each of the four cities will be the first in the culture chain that hasn't yet been constructed in the respective city – the chain being the Monument, Amphitheater, Opera House, Museum, and Broadcast Tower, in that order (the Temple replaces the Amphitheater in the base game). If the technology necessary to unlock that building hasn't been unlocked, it will appear once the research is finished.

For example, consider a city which has built a Monument already, in a civilization without Drama and Poetry. When unlocking Legalism, normally an Amphitheater would appear. However this takes place before the technology has been researched and without the technology, it cannot normally be built. As a result, no Amphitheater will appear immediately after the policy unlock, and will instead appear when Drama and Poetry is researched.

Buildings received from Legalism DO cost maintenance, but if a city already has any other culture buildings when the policy is enacted, the cost still applies to those buildings. If later culture buildings are not required, it may be advisable to rely on the free buildings from the policy and not build culture buildings, which will save gold in the long run. Alternatively, if the Monument is built early, maintenance will be instead saved on the more expensive Amphitheater, but there will be no immediate benefit until technology catches up.

Civilopedia entry[]

Legalism is a policy in which the relationship between the ruler and his or her subjects is laid out in a series of laws, which both sides must adhere to strictly. If the law is fair and is properly enforced, the people will be content and the ruler's position will be secure. While this may seem to cover most governments that follow the rule of law, legalism almost achieved the status of a state religion in China during the Warring State Period.

Civilization V Social Policies [edit]
Tradition AristocracyLanded EliteLegalismMonarchyOligarchy
Liberty CitizenshipCollective RuleMeritocracyRepresentationRepublic
Honor DisciplineMilitary CasteMilitary TraditionProfessional ArmyWarrior Code
Piety Free ReligionMandate of HeavenOrganized ReligionReformationReligious ToleranceTheocracy
Patronage AestheticsConsulatesCultural DiplomacyEducated EliteMerchant ConfederacyPhilanthropyScholasticism
Commerce EntrepreneurshipMercantilismMercenary ArmyMerchant NavyNaval TraditionProtectionismTrade Unions Wagon Trains
Rationalism Free ThoughtHumanismScientific RevolutionSecularismSovereignty
Aesthetics Artistic GeniusCultural CentersCultural Exchange Fine ArtsFlourishing of the Arts
Exploration Maritime InfrastructureMerchant NavyNaval TraditionNavigation SchoolTreasure Fleets
Freedom Civil SocietyConstitutionDemocracyFree SpeechUniversal Suffrage
Autocracy FascismMilitarismPolice StatePopulismTotal War
Order CommunismNationalismPlanned EconomySocialismUnited Front