The shoguns were military dictators, who ruled in Japan. The samurais were knights, who fought to the grave. Both functions were determinative factor in life of Japanese for nearly 700 years.
From the 9th century the Fujiwara clan possessed the power for 300 years in Japan. However their influence disappeared when there wasn’t more girl child who could became a wife of the Emperor. In 1192 Yoritomo, a member of the Minamoto clan got the power and founded the Kamakura Shogunate. “The great general who subdues barbarians.” He was an ambitious noble, who killed his enemies ruthlessly, even if they were members of his family. From then on the shoguns ruled in Japan until 1868. The Japanese government was complicated. The Emperor was the central figure of ceremonies, everybody bowed in front him , but the real power was in the hands of shoguns. The Daimyos also had big influence. They were the most powerful feudal lords.
The samurais were closely associated with the middle and upper echelons of the warrior class. They fought on Daimyos’s behalf for fields and functions. The samurai like the European knights believed in truth and honesty. They had a strict statute, the Bushido (“Way of the warrior”). Before a battle a samurai always shouted his name and names of his ancestors. They fought with two swords in battles. If a samurai defeated or captured by the enemy, he has committed a ritual suicide (hara-kiri) to escape the humiliating position. The battles are often looked like a dance or a ceremonial game of chess. But outcome was always fatal. They weren’t only fighters, but they had to know the arts too.
The samurai developed their own cultures that influenced Japanese culture as a whole. The samurai teachings are still be found in the modern Japanese martial arts. In 1333, the Asikaga clan ousted the Kamakura Shogunate. The new centre of their shogunate was Kyoto. But the Kyoto emperors were weak in the rule and the Daimyos became more stronger. Because of the high taxes and the increasing uncertainty there were more and more wars between the samurais and the Daimyos. Finally these reasons resulted in the downfall of a centuries-old rule. In the Onin civil wars (1466-1467) Japan divided 400 small clan states.
Important dates in chronological order
|1192||Foundation of the Kamakura Shogunate|
|1199||Death of Minamoto Yoritomo|
|1333||Foundation of the Kyomot Shogunate|
|1466||The Onin Civil war|
|1467||Collapse of the last shougnate|
Written by Ilona Kaszanyi