Analysis of Karl Friday's Samurai, Warfare and the State in Early Medieval Japan

Analysis of Karl Friday's Samurai, Warfare and the State in Early Medieval Japan

Length: 1648 words (4.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
In the book Samurai, Warfare and the State in Early Medieval Japan, Karl Friday focuses on war in early medieval Japan. A central thesis could be the political primacy of the imperial court. (Lamers 2005) This is the tenth through fourteenth centuries, before the samurai became prominent in Japan and were trying to form themselves into more of what we think of them today. Friday focuses on five aspects of war in his book; they are the meaning of war, the organization of war, the tools of war, the science of war, and the culture of war.
War is term that we are very familiar with. First, Friday defines warfare as armed conflict between organized bands or bodies. Then you really need to define organized. Gangs could be considered organized. Or how many does it take to be organized? Could two people be considered organized? I think legitimate should be included in that definition. Then again when two gangs fight, they still are making warfare. When looking at the organized part I think you have to be thinking multiple people.
He also talks about warfare as a form of communication. Rebel groups that are trying to overthrow a government could fit in this description. They are not pleased with the form of government, so to let people know they fight to overthrow the government.
This takes us to the concept of just war. Aristotle saw just war as a means to a higher goal. You don't just fight the war to win the war there needs to be a purpose to fighting the war. He goes on to tell us how others view just war. The Romans said war was just only when conducted by the state, and only accompanied by a declaration of hostilities, meaning war had to be declared on someone. Rebellions and revolutions were not considered just wars. The Japanese did not define when war was just or proper. Early Christians rejected war; this came from the effort to be more Christ like, the Golden Rule, due unto others as you would have them do to you. Later the Christians could no longer be pacifists; they were going to have to go to war sometime after Constantine became emperor and declared Christianity as the main religion of the time.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Analysis of Karl Friday's Samurai, Warfare and the State in Early Medieval Japan." 18 Nov 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Analysis Of The Book ' Early Medieval Art ' Essay

- The object of this book, Early Medieval Art, is to convey the theme “tradition not only receives and transforms, it literally invents a tradition upon which it founded itself” (p. 15) concerning art of the early medieval era. The purpose of this book is to summarize and offer knowledge of medieval art, that will then be included in the greater series of books by other specialists for Oxford University Press. Lawrence Nees accomplished his argument successfully by following the chronological production of the art and the traditions that are imbedded within them....   [tags: Roman Empire, Christianity, Medieval art]

Research Papers
1408 words (4 pages)

Essay about Japan and Foreign Influence

- Throughout the course of East Asian history, Japan has been largely influenced by the Asian mainland. From ancient times to the medieval period, significant contributions to Japan can be seen coming from both Korea and China. Both of these countries diffused elements of their cultures to form the basis of Japanese society – namely China. These foreigners would influence various aspects of society including technology, philosophy, politics, and religion. The first instance of foreign influence in Japan is documented as the Yayoi revolution....   [tags: Japan]

Research Papers
1445 words (4.1 pages)

Islamic Science in the Medieval Era Essay

- There are many terms used to describe the period after the fall of Rome and before the Renaissance, three main terms being the Middle, Medieval, and Dark Ages. In general, these terms are used interchangeably, but are these fair substitutions. In recent years the term “Dark Ages” is becoming less and less acceptable as a phrase which describes the span of years it is meant to refer to. The use of the term “dark” implies a period of stagnation, which is becoming a questionable concept. In particular, the span of time referred to in this paper is 530-1452 BCE, with specific attention paid to the scientific discoveries and innovations rather than art or literature....   [tags: History, Middle, Medieval, Dark Ages]

Research Papers
2572 words (7.3 pages)

Analysis of Wal-Mart in Japan Essay

- Executive Summary The case study focuses on the hurdles and strategic failures that Wal-Mart faced during its expansion and entry into Japan and its hugely attractive Retail Market. The study throws light on the rise of the world’s major Retailers “Wal-Mart”. In course of their expansion with the time they benefitted from success as well as disastrous results in their journey to “Go Global” Wal-Mart got in to Japan’s smart retail market as a joint venture with “Seiyu” which was a very mistaken step at first....   [tags: Wal-Mart in Japan Case Study]

Research Papers
1358 words (3.9 pages)

Karl Marx and Capitalism Essay

- Karl Marx, in the Capital, developed his critique of capitalism by analyzing its characteristics and its development throughout history. The critique contains Marx’s most developed economic analysis and philosophical insight. Although it was written in 1850s, its values still serve an important purpose in the globalized world and maintains extremely relevant in the twenty-first century. Karl Marx’s critique of political economy provides a scientific understanding of the history of capitalism. Through Marx’s critique, the history of society is revealed....   [tags: Karl Marx]

Research Papers
893 words (2.6 pages)

Speech Analysis: The Declaration of War on Japan

- ... Roosevelt initiated his persuasion with his choice of emotionally charged words to ignite polarizing emotional appeals. He emphasized the deception involved the attack through the numerous repetitions of the word "deliberately" and "premeditated". Furthermore, his usage of the words "hostility", "dastardly", and "infamy" demonizes the Japanese people and entices the attention of his intended audience, both the Congress and all American citizens. His mention of the American casualties and infrastructure of the US navy during the Pearl Harbor attack united the nation under an ideology of patriotism and emphasized the urgency of the grave situation....   [tags: rhetoric eloquence, japan, war]

Research Papers
634 words (1.8 pages)

An Indepth Look at Warfare in Medieval Japan in Joseph Conlans' State of War; The Violent Order of Fourteenth Century Japan

- ... That being so, it paints an image of the Samurai out to be more in the class of a ‘mercenary’ force than that of a group of morally obligated fighters, sworn to protect what is just and right for the betterment of society. In the introduction, Conlan states; “War represents a process that encompasses all. Rather than merely hastening change on a static state and society, war creates its own particular and peculiar order.” Nothing could be truer when looking at fourteenth century Japan. War for the Political figures represented an opportunity to further their control and power over society and the archepelego....   [tags: political, army, economic]

Research Papers
990 words (2.8 pages)

Japanese Culture : Japan And Sushi Essay

- There is more to Japan than kimonos and sushi. This unique and creative culture is only known for the stereotypes media associated with that country. In response to that, a critical question to ponder is “How is Japan influenced by the demographic imperative?”. With that mentioned, I argue that Japan remains culture that focuses on tradition while accepting and adapting to ideologies of Western culture. To begin this essay, a brief history of two major events that impacted Japan will be discussed to get a better understanding of its current ways of living today....   [tags: Japan, China, Government of Japan, Western culture]

Research Papers
1212 words (3.5 pages)

Culture of Japan Essay

- Culture of Japan The Japanese have been around for many years. They are a very distict population where their culture influences many aspects of our lives. A brief history of Japan will enlighten the many ideas and topics in which explains how and why these ideas play a role in their culture. Shinto is the older animist religion of traditional Japan. However, Japans’ religious status is Buddhism. This faith has been sacred for just litte over twelve hundred years. These two religions have intertwined and influenced each other and Japanese culture....   [tags: Japan]

Research Papers
690 words (2 pages)

Japan Essay

- Japan Geographical Setting Japan is an island country in the North Pacific Ocean. It lies off the northeast coast of mainland Asia and faces Russia,Korea, and China. Four large islands and thousands of smaller ones make up Japan. The four major islands- Hokkaido,Honshu,Kyushu and Shikoku form a curve that extends for about 1,900 kilometres. Topography Japan is a land of great natural beauty. mountains and hills cover about 70% of the country. IN fact, Japanese islands consist of the rugged upper part of a great mountain range that rises from the floor of the North Pacific Ocean....   [tags: Geography Geographical Japan Essays]

Research Papers
2668 words (7.6 pages)

Christians only fought when key criteria was met. Those criteria were the right authority, just cause, right intention, proportionality, last resort, and the end of peace. I guess what is meant by end of peace is exactly what it says. The Japanese looked at the Chinese/Confucian principles who said war "was justifiable only when all else had failed." (Friday 2004)
The ritsuryô polity said that for war to be just it had to be action taken to preserve or enhance the imperial order, while any other force of arms was viewed as selfish, particularistic, and unjust. This polity was erased by the middle of the tenth century. After the ritsuryô codes had been discarded the emergence of the bushi, early samurai, was the way the government chose to go. The state now had no armies of its own and depended on the privately armed, privately trained warriors, the bushi.
Warrants were a thing that I found particularly interesting. If you took any form of military action without a warrant it was subject to punishment, I am kind of interested in what kind of punishment this would institute, would it be death, a whipping, losing some privilege, being exiled, or what? A single warrant carried six basic powers. Really nothing like a warrant we think of today.
There are three main causes of private warfare between the early bushi. The first, a breach of etiquette or failure to show proper respect, the second, malicious gossip, and the third cause of private warfare was filial piety or familial honor. Two stories he told about a breach in etiquette and rudeness stuck out in my mind. First, a man was shot for not dismounting from his horse in the presence of a higher ranking bushi, and a man being ordered to death for being rude. The malicious gossip was in the shogunal laws. It states that the perpetrator shall be punished by exile or confinement. It is a good thing that our society does not have that law intact, there would be a lot of people exiled or confined. The filial piety and familial honor also had a shogunal law. It said that if a son or grandson killed his father or grandfather's enemy that the father or grandfather too would be punished. That seems like a fair law to me. If you have a family member knows of and you have them take that person out you should definitely be held responsible.
The idea of Just War broadened over time. There was much more room for legitimate battles. I wonder why this happened, maybe the government saw it as being too hard to control and regulate so they just let more violence take place without punishment. This led to the rise of the bushi.
Next, was the organization of war. With the new system in place all free male subjects form the ages of twenty to fifty-nine were eligible to be inducted into the military. It was much like our national guard though, the men would usually go back home and were selected for training, peacetime police, and to serve in wars. Most of the men that made up the military were peasants. The nobles served as officers. While all this was happening there was fear of being attacked by the Chinese. Once the Chinese backed away the forces were eliminated entirely.
The most common of the weapons used was the bow. The earliest ones were made out of plain wood. According to Friday the tools that produced and defined the bushi throughout the early medieval era was the horse and the long bow. The sword was known as the "soul of the samurai." The first thing I think of when I think of a samurai is him fighting with a sword. Friday says that swords were symbols of power, war, military skill, and warrior identity. Swords were easy to carry, and were more honorable than daggers. Weaponry could not just be viewed as offensive. The defensive weaponry was important too. Shields and armor were the main defensive weaponry. Horses were used at this time for mobility.
Battle was very unorganized many times. The generals would fight with the ranks and would not order the troops around. The troops would act in small groups or there would be archery duels. I would have expected them to be very well organized and go in with a plan, but with no general commanding the entire time of battle it would be hard to have any organization. I guess it would kind of be every man for himself sometimes. They did use some battle tactics though. Warriors would use ambushes, when the enemy's whereabouts were reliably predicted. They would also build forts and strongholds. Much like in the movie Seven Samurai. That is how I would picture all battles of this time being. The warriors were viewed as bowman on horseback. They also used swords and grappling, but only under extreme circumstances, when the battle had moved to the ground.
The early warfare is compared to combat of stags and rams by William Wayne Farris. He also likens them to lions preying on antelope, also. The first example would be used a group. The second would be used in fighting to stay alive. There were six fundamental rules of engagement for the time. They were as follows: fixing of the time and place for battles, guarantees for the safety of messengers exchanged at the start of battles, fighting centered on one-to one duels, selection of suitable or worthy opponents by self-introductions, honorable treatment for surrendered or captured enemy troops, guarantees for the safety of non-combatants on the field. (Friday 2004) So, battles had to be planned out, messengers could not be killed, fighting was man to man, you had to fight an opponent that was of your same skill, prisoners of war were to be treated fairly, and they could not kill people who weren't fighting on the field. I liked that the fighting had to be planned and they couldn't kill messengers or, I would assume doctor, nurses, etc. I also like that they had to treat the prisoners fairly, they could not torture them. Fighting of the time was very formal and custom.
To conclude, Friday cleared up some of the unknowns about early medieval samurai. He shows us how they got started, and takes us clear up to the fourteenth century when they really became prominent. He looks at five angles of war in his book, the meaning of war, the organization of war, the tools of war, the science of war, and the culture of war. There were a number of typos in the book, which I found very surprising. He also included a lot of illustrations, which was nice to see how things were. This book was a helpful book in learning the origins of the samurai.
Friday, Karl F. Samurai, Warfare and the State in Early Medieval Japan. New York: Routledge, 2004.
Lamers, J.P. The Journal of Japanese Studies 31.2, 2005: 466-469.
Return to