Samurai, Yangban, and Gentry: Dealing with the Problem of the Uprising of the Lower Classes

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The samurai of Tokugawa Japan, the yangban of Choson Korea, and the gentry of Ming China were three very powerful and elite groups of East Asia. These groups consisted of high ranking government officials with judicial power and influence. Although the groups were located in the same region they had their similarities and differences in how they obtained power and how they used their power. Japanese samurai were military nobility who had almost as much power as the emperor, but were not the highest ranking officials whereas the yangban officials of Korea were the highest ranking rulers. The gentry of the Ming period of China were once high ranking rulers; however, the gentry were defined as retired Chinese bureaucrats. Socially, all…show more content…
Ancestry also played a major role in generations of gentry because those born into wealthy families were more likely to become gentry than those who were born into poor families. The gentry, like the yangban, were also wealthy landowners who owned slaves. Gentry were also retired officials who held high ranking office positions. In contrast, the samurai got their power mostly from the Taiho Code which involved a yearly census and the division of bureaucrats into separate divisions. The yangban were also separated into civilian officials and military officials. The major difference that separated the samurai from the yangban and the gentry was the samurai’s involvement with the military. They were hired as protectors for important government officials and the Japanese military was mostly made up of samurai. That aside, the ultimate source of power of all three elite groups was hereditary and ancestral lineage. The social role of the samurai was laid out in the Joei Code. The samurai looked after matter of the shogunate’s vassals and supervised military and police issues. The Joei Code was the first codification of warrior law and it defined the jobs of the stewards as well as the military protectors. Land tenure and succession were important matters that the samurai had to administer. Most arguments that

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