The Samurai Warrior in History
The Edo Period:
The powerful Tokugawa clan, from the area around Kyoto, was banished by Hideyoshi to the Kanto region in western Japan. By 1600, the ambitious Tokugawa Ieyasu had fought and conquered the other western daimyo from his stronghold at Edo. This stronghold, Edo, was later to become Tokyo.
In 1605, Hidetada, Ieyasu's son, became Shogun. This began approximately 250 years of stability and peace for Japan.
It was during this period that the Tokugawa Shoguns tamed the fierce Samurai, and forced them to either serve their lords in the cities, or lay down their swords and become farmers.
Thus, the mighty Samurai warriors were changed into a hereditary class of bureaucrats, cultured and wealthy.
The End of the Samurai:
The Meiji Restoration in 1868 heralded the beginning of the end for the famous Samurai.
The Meiji system was one of constitutional monarchy, and included democratic reforms such as term limits for public office and voting. The Meiji Emperor was backed by public support when he abolished the Samurai. He also lessened the power of the daimyo, and moved the capital of Japan from Kyoto to Tokyo.
This government formed a conscripted army in 1873. Many of the officers in the new, conscripted army were from the ranks of former Samurai. Unhappy and feeling ill-used, angry ex-samurai revolted against the Meiji in the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877. They lost, and the era of the Samurai was finished.Page (7)