POWER: the Sword & the Pen

In 1615 the Laws of the Military Classes (Buke Sho-Hatto) tightened the behavioural codes expected of the daimyo and the samurai as exemplars of honour, dignity and loyalty.  The first code maintained that ‘The study of literature and the practice of the military arts must be pursued side by side.’  Subsequent codes covered the harbouring of fugitives in feudal domains (han); the arrangements for the marriage of the daimyo; and the suitability of amusements for the elite classes. Successive generations of shogun rewrote and reissued these edicts.

The strategic placement of family and close loyal supporters (Fudai daimyo) in positions of authority in the feudal regions surrounding Edo and beyond minimised the risk of revolt from the ‘outside lords’ (Tozama daimyo) who were not fully trusted. In 1635 the introduction of a system of compulsory residency (Sankin Kotai) in Edo for either alternate years or periods of four to six months, dependant on where the daimyo’s feudal residency was located, further restricted the military classes and their families.  The daimyo were obliged to maintain both their estates and a residence in Edo at great cost both personally and financially. Travel to and from these residences took the form of great processions, occasions which displayed the daimyo’s personal wealth and taste.