THE BIRTH OF THE SAMURAI

The Development of a Warrior Elite in Early Japanese Society

This concise history looks at the emergence and development of a warrior elite in Japanese culture prior to the rule of the samurai. It documents how waves of immigrants from China and Korea arrived early in the history of the country and brought with them changes in food production, philosophical and religious ideas, political systems and new ways of waging war.

The Birth of the Samurai charts how these new arrivals saw the country go from a hunter-gatherer society to one that was ruled by local warrior clan leaders, who in turn would come under the authority of an all-powerful emperor. Over the centuries however the emperors would gradually lose much of their power to leading aristocrats, in particular to the Fujiwara Clan. 

Meanwhile, provincial warrior clans were honing their skills on the battlefield and by the end of the ninth century, had begun to refer to themselves as the samurai. It was also around this time that they started to gain influence within the capital and within just a few hundred years, Yoritomo Minamoto became the first shogun to be the true ruler of Japan, ushering in the age of the samurai.

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