Distinguishing Feudal Japan & Feudal Europe

Feudal Japan vs Feudal Europe

Feudalism, which is thought to have originated in Medieval Europe as a direct result of the weakening of the Roman Empire, is a topic of great interest due to its apparent similarities with feudal Japan. Both systems featured a social hierarchy and pyramid-like structure, but there were significant differences between European and Japanese feudalism. It is important to note that Japan’s feudal system developed without any direct contact with Europe.

Key Takeaways

  • Feudal Europe was characterized by a system of land ownership, with weak kings granting land to powerful local lords who, in turn, divided it among lesser lords and knights. Peasants cultivated the land and received protection and a share of the produce in exchange.
  • Feudal Japan, which arose in the 12th century and continued until the 19th century, had a vertical division of society with an established hierarchy. The emperor was at the top, but the real power was held by the Shogun, who distributed land to vassals called daimyo. The daimyos granted land rights to Samurai warriors, who used peasants to cultivate the land.
  • Key differences between the two systems include the rugged terrain of Japan weakening the emperor’s control more than in Europe, Japanese Samurai receiving money instead of land for their services, and the basis of European feudalism being the Roman Catholic Church, while Japanese feudalism was based on Buddhism or Confucian law.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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