A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com - The Daimyo were mighty Japanese feudal lords during Middle Ages in Japan. The country was officially ruled by an emperor and his family, but respective areas were governed by the ‘daimyo’ military generals and powerful warlords with strong armies of fighters.
Left: samurai armor. source; Right: domaru armor. Image via bostonglobe.com
The Daimyo lords belonged to the Samurai class, the highest caste until the abolition of the caste. They reported directly to the shogun and their status was counted in the so-called ‘koku’, which was a measure of how much rice their country could produce. After the famous battle at Sekigahara that took place in1600, the daimyo were divided in two groups: tozama and fudai depending on which side they were in this battle.
These men had at their disposal large tough armies and were often in conflict with each other.
At the head of their military forces were some of the bravest and terrifying warriors - the ‘samurai’ (means 'ones who serve'), highly respected for their extraordinary skills and brave nature of warriors.
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The samurai lived at the top of a strictly layered society (made up of individuals, families, groups in society) and controlled political power and the wealth.
The Samurai class existed in Japan for over a thousand years. The Samurai have a quite interesting history. They started off in the 1100's and ended their existence in 1835.
Rich and influential daimyo usually made gifts of land to the samurai, who supported them and fought for them in exchange. Peasants who worked on these given lands had to pay taxes in form of money and food to support their masters.
It reminds us about warriors and knights of Medieval Europe, we described earlier in one of articles on Ancient Pages.
A samurai was expected to show reckless courage, fairness, reverence for the gods, and generosity toward those weaker. At the very heart of all Samurai training was the ‘Bushido Code’, a strict creed – ‘Way of the Warrior.’
Dying an honorable death was judged more important than living a long life.
Surprisingly, despite their amazing skills in battle, the samurai loved music, art and poetry. Many of the samurai were deeply interested in Zen Buddhism, an important force in Japan, especially after the 12thcentury. It had considerable influence on Japanese culture, far beyond the temple and successfully reached to cultural and social areas of all kinds, including gardening, ink painting, calligraphy, the tea ceremony, and even military strategies.
The samurai preferred hand to hand combat using razor-sharped swords.
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As their fighting style was based on quick movements, so it was important for them to have only light armor decorated helmets for cheek and neck protection. Additional armor included frightening masks, shoulder plates (of leather, wood and later steel) usually tied to breastplates, for better protection of the body.
Underneath his armor, the Samurai usually would wear a baggy garment, loose pants and a kimono on top of that.
The samurai did not use shields; instead they used the sides of their swords to neutralize an attack of enemy.
Written by – A. Sutherland AncientPages.com Staff Writer
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