Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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(1,028 words)

1. Concept

The word samurai (earlier saburai; derived from samurau/saburau, “to serve”, “to wait on”) refers today in general to members of the warrior class in early modern Japan. Until the Heian period (794-1192), saburai were servants of the nobles at the imperial court. Only in the centuries after that did the word acquire an increasing military connotation. In early modern Japanese literature, bushi was the usual term for members of the warrior caste (it is fami…

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Mathias, Regine, “Samurai”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 10 June 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_026944>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20210601

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