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Conlans State Of War Essay

1182 words - 5 pages

Joseph Conlans “State of War; The Violent Order of Fourteenth Century Japan” is an depth look at Japans emerging warrior class during a time period of constant warfare in Medieval Japan. His work however doesn’t revolve around the re-fabrication and in-depth analysis of battles sieged like many contemporary examinations of wars and battles won and lost. Instead the author vies to navigate the reader on journey into the warrior class’s lives and how they evolved through a statistical analysis of records. This illustrates how warfare changed and transformed with the constant evolving of the Samurai, but it also includes how their actions affected their Political environment as well as the society in which they dwelled from the bottom up. Through his survey of records and documents, Conlan is able to give readers a compelling look into the Warrior class and at times shatters in the process many of the pre-conceived general notions that one may hold about this ancient class of professional warriors. Many of the notions & common misconceptions debunked in this scholarly piece include the idea that the Samurai was a male only fraternity, reserved for those of impeccable candor and loyalty. When truth be known, woman and young men (boys) were also trained in the art of war and thus were as likely to be found on the battle fields as men when times were tough and solider numbers were depleted. Further, another misconception (Generally thought to be caused by the popular and well known; “The Bushido Code: The Eight Virtues of the Samurai”) of the warrior class is that all of these men were truly Samurai which translated to “one who serves” when really, loyalty for the warrior class as Conlan points out only went as far as ones right to offer cash incentives, increasing ones social, economical or political prestige, and most importantly; securing land rights. That being so, it paints an image of the Samurai out to be more in the class of a ‘mercenary’ force than that of a group of morally obligated fighters, sworn to protect what is just and right for the betterment of society.
In the introduction, Conlan states; “War represents a process that encompasses all. Rather than merely hastening change on a static state and society, war creates its own particular and peculiar order.” Nothing could be truer when looking at fourteenth century Japan. War for the Political figures represented an opportunity to further their control and power over society and the archepelego. For those in political office, such as the Taisho and Shugo it was an opportunity to increase or further their political and social economic benefits from their appointed positions. For the middle class such as the Tozama (and their followers the Miuchi), Gokenin, Myoshu and Hyakusho, who often had priority’s not only of Monetary gain but more in the ability to have the rights to their current land holdings confirmed and the opportunity to possibly expand their wealth through the...

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