Shogunate: Feudal Period of Japan – History of Japan

Japan has currently been a parliamentary constitutional monarchy since 1868, after the Meiji Restoration, after the Boshin War, ended with shogunate and returned the main power to the Emperor.

At this time, the samurai class lost their prestige and their reputation declined to the point where they were persecuted and extinct, the shogun had their lands and power taken by the Emperor and finally, after six centuries, a civil government was re-established.

Before that, Japan was a feudal military government ruled directly by the shogun, who was a kind of military dictator who controlled all of Japan and was the governor in fact of the whole country while the Emperor, was the ruler de jure.

The Shogunate emerged after the seizure of power by the Kamakura clan. Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147 – 1199) became the first regent shogun and started the period known today as the Kamakura Period, establishing a feudal system where samurai, who were once simple soldiers belonging to a low position in the military hierarchy, rose to power. and they were placed above the aristocracy to directly serve the shogun.

However, there were times when the shogunate was overthrown by a coup d'état perpetrated by another clan to seize power from the clan that ruled Japan, starting another shogunate, causing the shogunate to be divided into three periods: Kamakura Period (1185 – 1333), Ashikaga Period (1336 – 1573) and Tokugawa period (1603 – 1868).

History of Japan - what was the shogunate?

Kamakura Shogunate

The first shogunate, Kamakura Shogunate, began after Minamoto no Yorimoto usurped the Emperor's power and became the military governor of Japan.

During this time, there were power struggles between the Kamakura clan and the Houjou clan, which were the clans that had influence under the shogun.

The Kamakura Shogunate ended with its downfall caused by Emperor Go-Daigo (1288 – 1339) who unsuccessfully tried to overthrow the shogunate through a coup d'état with the purpose of establishing a civil government.

As a result, Go-Daigo lost his throne, was banished from the aristocracy and exiled. Despite Go-Daigo's failure, the shogunate weakened and fell in 1333.

Ashikaga shogunate

the military Ashikaga Takauji (1305 – 1358) tried to help Go-Daigo regain his throne only to later betray him and, after being named the new shogun, start the Ashikaga Shogunate, the second shogunate.

During the Ashikaga Period, Japan maintained political and commercial relations with Korea and China.

Thanks to the tension between daimyos, the feudal lords of Japan, who competed for power during the Onin War (civil war that lasted between 1467 and 1477), loyalty to the shogun weakened severely and resulted in the Sengoku Period, marked by political and social instability. , conflicts and riots among the military.

The Sengoku Period was the cause of the downfall of the Ashikaga Shogunate which ended with the expulsion of Ashikaga Yoshiaki (1537 – 1597) by the daimyo Oda Nobunaga (1534 – 1582) in 1573.

As a result, Nobunaga gained control of power and all of Japan.

Shogunate: feudal period of Japan - history of Japan

Tokugawa Shogunate

Nobunaga managed to rule all of Japan until 1582, when he was betrayed and killed by the samurai Akechi Mitsuhide (1528 – 1582).

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537 – 1598), Nobunaga's apprentice, resolved to avenge his master's death at the Battle of Yamazaki. Defeating Mitsuhide who had become a shogun after murdering Nobunaga, Toyotomi became the new shogun.

However, the Toyotomi shogunate weakened when Japan's invasions of Korea failed. As a consequence, his clan lost power and influence in Japan. Thus, the shogunate fell in 1598, after Toyotomi's death.

After his death, no one was appointed as a shogun and this left a vacuum in the Japanese government's power.

In 1600, at the Battle of Sekigahara, the soldier Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543 – 1616) defeated the Western Army along with his army, the Eastern Army. And so, he took power becoming the new shogun, thus starting the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603 – 1868).

The Tokugawa Period was marked by Japan's policy of isolation. Avoiding any kind of political and economic relationship with foreigners, Japan has become a closed country to the rest of the world.

Shogunate: feudal period of japan - history of japan

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End of the Shogunate and the Meiji Restoration

With the country being pressured by foreign trade and remittance, Japan has opened up to foreigners.

However, the shogunate took measures to prevent the country from having any kind of relationship with foreign forces. implemented the Ikokusen Muninen Uchiharairei, also known as the “No Think Twice Policy”, to isolate Japan.

However, to keep foreigners away, the Japanese would have to learn about the sciences from foreigners. Thus, they began to obtain firearms through the Dutch. And then, the manufacture of these firearms to produce them in the same type and quality.

After conflict with foreign forces, Japan had to negotiate treaties to prevent the country from continuing to be attacked. In this way, the end of the “No-Think Twice Policy.”

Later, through these treaties, foreigners were allowed to establish trade relations with the Japanese. This made the shogun feel annoyed and use the samurai to stop these trade relations.

In 1868, samurai of the Satsuma clan rallied on behalf of the Emperor to overthrow the Tokugawa Shogunate. And so they did, resulting in the resignation of Tokugawa Yoshinobu (1837 – 1913), the last shogun.

And so, the shogunate was abolished, returning power to the Emperor, opening up Japan to the world, abolishing the samurai class, and installing a parliamentary constitutional monarchy government based on Western monarchies.

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Japan's modernization

Later, with the abolition of the shogunate, Japan rapidly industrialized and militarized. Thus, it became a power whose conquered territories throughout Asia.

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