Examples of Feudalism in the Post-classical Period Essay

Submitted By thelastkidkickin
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In the Post-Classical period, there were many notable examples of strong feudalism. Perhaps the two most influential, besides the famous Zhou Chinese feudalism, were Japan and Western Europe’s adoptions of feudalist systems. These two civilizations both adopted feudalisms, and were similar in many ways, but also had some notable differences, which are definitely worth exploring. Socially and politically, culturally, and economically, these two civilizations had their similarities and differences that truly defined their structures at that time. Primarily, the two civilizations were both extremely comparable socially and politically. In Document 1 (a Bishop’s description of the Western European social system) we see that all social roles are determined with relation to church, which, in essence, determines the Western European social structure. In Document 2 (a Japanese family’s code) we see that social structures aren’t established as much on religion, but more on the needs of the people, and traditional Japanese structures. This is also made evident in Document 3 (a teacher’s exhortation for samurais), where the social roles of the samurai are determined by a Japanese traditionalist. In terms of politics, in Western Europe we see political decisions made by the church. In Document 5 (an oath of allegiance) we see that many political values of this civilization are based on the Christian belief structure and are greatly influenced by church doctrine. It should also be noted that in Document 8 (a declaration of future intention to rule), a great emphasis is placed on political loyalty, and that the only way to become socially mobile is to adhere to the political restraints present in traditional Japanese culture. This document, however, may not be entirely reliable due to the fact that it was written by a major political figure whose views may be biased or distorted. This is also noted in Document 9 (a shoguns conversation with his ally) where Japanese social systems are explained to be based around the needs of the country and in line with the political agenda of the government. It should also be taken into consideration that the two civilizations implemented similar types of feudalistic structures, just enforced differently. It is seen that feudalism in Western Europe was organized heavily with religious influence, while in Japan the religious aspect was not as strong, and a strong social system served as the unifying factor. A useful document for representing this information would be a samurai’s journal concerning political and social elements of Japan at that time. Culturally, we can truly see the differences between these two feudalisms. We see in Western Europe, much like many other areas of life, culture was strongly held together by the church’s influence. However, in Japan, though Mahayana Buddhism was prevalent, it did not allow the same level of unification. We see in Document 4 (the Japanese song) that Japanese culture at this time was actually based off of politics and social roles, which is usually opposite of the typical cultural structure,