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Hatamoto

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  • Japanese: 旗本 (hatamoto)

Hatamoto, lit. "bannermen," were a class of roughly six thousand middle-ranking samurai of the Edo period who, instead of serving a daimyô or being daimyô themselves, were direct retainers of the Tokugawa shogun.

They held small territories in fief, enjoyed stipends of anywhere from 100 to nearly 10,000 koku, and many held various middle- or upper-middle-level government posts. Some had their own retainers in turn, set and collected taxes within their territories, issued their own laws, and enforced them by dealing out punishments. While distinguished from daimyô by the lesser size of their holdings, the only other significant distinction separating the largest hatamoto from the smallest daimyô was that daimyô, unlike hatamoto, had the right to sentence their subjects to death.[1]

However, in contrast to the wealthier hatamoto, as many as 1/4 of the members of this class were unable to secure government posts, while many others were severely underemployed for extended periods, working only half-days, or only on a month-to-month basis.

References

  • Craig, Teruko (trans.). Musui's Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai. University of Arizona Press, 1988. p.xii.
  1. Mark Ravina, Land and Lordship in Early Modern Japan, Stanford University Press (1999), 18-19.
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