21 Aralık 2010 Salı

Feudal Japan

Until the 12th century, Japan was a monarchy with a civilian aristocracy. However, in the 12th century, a new warrior class, namely the samurai, emerged as a new political power so as to shape the medieval times in Japan until the Meiji Restoration of 1867.

This came about with the rise of land owners who had freedom from taxation called shoen and thus could deny government officials of agents entrance to their estates. The rise of the Shôen was directly related to the rise of the Japanese warrior. This meant the establishment of a system of parcellized power in the hands of a new warrior class which replaced the Heian aristocracy as the ruling class of the country and founded a feudal government, the Bakufu or the tent government without challenging the sanctity of the imperial throne. Ever since the abandonment of military conscription in 792 local governors and shoen managers relied upon their own military recruits selected form among local chieftains. These local chieftains formed lord and vassal relationships with the shoen managers.

At the center of the class of warriors termed as samurai meaning servant were the chieftains of the great clans of the Taira and Minamoto whose rivalry formed the drama of political history in the rise of a military society. Both clans were led by men of arictocratic origin or royal blood who were descendents from an offsrping of the imperial family made into separate families and settled in the countryside. Family and pride of ancestry were important elements of a warlike spirit anda tradition of loyalty. These were unruly storng men who were warlike and the cause of much internal dissent and chaos in the countryside.

Above is a picture of a samurai armor. It was indeed used by a samurai, as you can see from the bullet
hole in the middle. This armor, which belonged to an ancestor of Emperor Meiji, was sent by Meiji to
Abdulhamid II as a gift to enhance Ottoman-Japanese diplomatic relations.