Japanese History (Ancient) Essay

1775 words - 7 pages

FEUDAL JAPANTIMELINE710-794 NARA ERA794-1156 HEIAN JAPAN1156-1180 TAIRA RULE (EARLY MILITARY HOUSE)1185-1333 KAMAKURA BAKUFU1333-1336 DISPUTED CONTROL1336-1467 ASHIKAGA BAKUFURise of Feudalism: In contrast to Europe, where feudalism declined as centralized national monarchies grew stronger, in Japan feudal institutions increasingly replaced national ones after the 11th century. Emperors continued to reign, but they no longer ruled. Their power was replaced by that of the provincial lords, who were descended from the old clan lords or court nobility that had left the capital. These lords managed the estates, fought the wars, and supervised the peasant population. Some still acknowledged their patronage to the great court families such as the Fujiwara, and remitted part of their income to them, but as time went on they became less inclined to do so, as they no longer needed protection from the imperial court.The Economic and Political Structure of Japan encouraged a more decentralized power structure. Once attempts to establish a Chinese-style tax system were given up, centralized government resorted to fixed quotas, which were collected by the regional authorities, and any amount collected over the quota was kept by the regional authorities. This enhanced power at the local levels. Conscription armies also proved ineffective in Japan, so that the court began a new system based on local mounted warriors, the samurai. They generally came from well-to-do families who could afford the costly armor and equipment. Their initial purpose was to preserve order and help collect taxes, but from 10th century onward they also contributed to the disorder as participants in regional military coalitions.Rise of the Samurai: By 1200, the Japanese military forces had emerged as potent force for either change or stability. Samurai warriors hailed mainly from local aristocrats, and gave greater influence to provisional strongmen.Samurai dominated Japanese feudal society. The name samurai came from the verb meaning "to serve." It was expensive to be a warrior, as you had to supply your own armor, horse, and weaponry. Each aristocratic soldier was accompanied by a small band of retainers, clad in light armor of fabric, leather and metal (which worked better than the heavy armor of the European knights). Armed with bows and arrows and curved swords, Japanese warrior aristocrats were called either "samurai" or (lord) or bushi ("noble warrior"). A feudal-style relationship existed between the lord and his samurai; and the samurai often served the same family for generations. It was different from European-style feudalism in that the samurai weren't rewarded by being given estates to run directly -- the system which created medieval Europe's pyramid-style pattern of land ownership. Instead, the lord provided the samurai with income derived from his agricultural estates. In return the samurai was expected to serve his lord with absolute loyalty.Bushido: was the samurai code...

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