The Knight and the Samurai:

Feudalism and the Military Class in Japan and Western Europe



What is Feudalism?



Regionalization vs. Centralization




The military class: The knight and the samurai




Influence of religion



Japan 12th to 16th century

Heian Japan breakdown of central authority





1.      Heian Era 794-1185

2.      Kamakura Shogunate 1185-1333

3.      Muromachi Period 1336-1573


Structure of Feudal Japan

1.      Political

a.       Shogunate

b.      Daimyo

c.       High point of the shogunate

2.      Economic

a.       Peasant farmers


b.      Shoen



c.       Land as an economic base


d.      Samurai fight in as military force



3.      Social

a.       Localization Daimyo has absolute control

b.      Daimyo and Samurai reciprocal relationship


c.       Structure of society

The military class

1.      Based on birthright

2.      Training at a very young age

3.      Courtly values introduced later

4.      Clothing and appearance

a.       Hitatare, obi

b.      Swords

c.       Topknot

5.      Bushido, the Way of the Warrior

a.       Problematic



b.      Literature

                                                               i.      The Heike



                                                             ii.      Nobushige and the Ninety Nine Articles





c.       Loyalty

                                                               i.      Junshi


                                                             ii.      Warrior group loyalty, as opposed to Confucian filial piety



6.      Religion

a.       Pure Land Buddhism




                                                               i.      Requirements for salvation



b.      Zen Buddhism



Feudalism in Western Europe, 10th 14th century

Carolingian Empire

1.      Break down in the 9th century

a.       Warring aristocratic factions

b.      Attacked by nomads

                                                               i.      Vikings, Saracens, & Magyars

2.      Capitulary of Mersen, 847


3.      Evidence of loss of stability in literature

a.       Annals of Xanten



1.      Map

2.      Normans 10th-13th century






3.      Structure of society

4.      Manorialism

a.       Lords, vassals, peasants

b.      Leaves out some

Break from Roman structure of government, movement towards more native Germanic system

1.      The ring-giver

2.      The hall

3.      Mutual obligation, more so than in Japan


Culture of the warrior class

1.      Training early

2.      More of an opportunity to increase social status

a.       Expenses: armor, horse, weapons

b.      Illumination from the British Library

3.      Fief ceremony



4.      Oath of fealty



5.      Loyalty is ideal

a.       Ideal: Fulbert of Chartres

b.      Complications: William IV of Aquitaine

c. What order loyalty is owed


1.      Hard to define






2.      Song of Roland

a.       Ideal values Roland




b.      Example of a bad vassal - Ganelon





1.      Fealty ceremony, swore on relics

2.      Christianity in the Song of Roland



3.      Peace of God




4.      Truce of God




5.      The crusades



6.      Peaceful religion and war











Order vs. Chaos





Break from borrowed models of centralized government





Fundamental values have long-lasting cultural impact




Centralization vs. Localization