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What are some similarities between Japanese and European feudalism?

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Quick Answer

Similarities between Japanese and European feudalism include a social system of various classes with little possibility of mobility from one class to another, the proffering of allegiance in exchange for protection, a warrior class with a code of honor and a peasant class tied to the land. Both societies also had clergy that functioned outside the normal feudal system.

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In Japanese feudal society, the shogun, representing the emperor, ruled through daimyo, or feudal lords. In European feudalism, the king ruled through his nobles. Both societies had strong warrior classes that pledged allegiance to their lords. In Japan, the samurai followed a set of principles known as bushido. They carried two swords as symbols of their status and had the right to behead anyone from the lower classes who did not show them proper respect. In feudal Europe, knights were pledged to their lord's service and followed a code of ethics known as chivalry. Peasants in both societies were bound to the land and turned over a portion of their produce in return for protection.

The Shinto and Buddhist priests of feudal Japan and the various levels of Catholic clergy in European feudalism existed outside the strict manorial system. Women in both societies were expected to submit to male heads of households. Historians point out that though these broad areas of similarity exist, they tend to oversimplify the cultural differences that shaped the two societies.

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