Comparison of European and Japanese Feudalism

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European feudalism and Japanese feudalism had major similarities and differences in terms of social and political effects. Both Feudal Japanese and European societies were built on a system of hereditary classes. In both feudal Japan and Europe, constant warfare made warriors the most important class. Called "knights" in Europe and "samurai" in Japan, the warriors served local lords. Japanese feudalism was based on the ideas of Confucius while European feudalism was based instead on Roman Imperial laws and customs. In both feudal Japan and Europe the nobles were at the top, followed by warriors, with tenant farmers or serfs below. There was very little social mobility; the children of farmers became farmers, while the children of lords became lords and ladies. Both knights and samurai rode horses into battle, used swords, and wore armor. European armor was usually all-metal, made of chain mail or plate metal. Japanese armor included laquered leather or metal plates and silk or metal bindings. European knights were almost immobilized by their armor, needing help up on to their horses, from where they would simply try to knock their opponents off their mounts. Samurai, in contrast, went with light-weight armor that allowed them quickness and maneuverability, at the cost of providing much less protection. Confucius stressed morality and filial piety, or respect for elders and other superiors. In Japan, this functioned as the moral duty of daimyo and samurai to protect the peasants and villagers in their region, and the duty of the peasants and villagers to honor the warriors and pay taxes to them in return. European feudalism was based instead on Roman Imperial laws and customs, supplemented with Germanic traditions, and supported by the authority of the Catholic Church. The relationship between a lord and his vassals was seen as contractual; lords offered

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