The New International Encyclopædia/Samurai

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SAMURAI, mo͞o-rī′ (Jap., guard). The military clubs in Japan during the feudal period, or a member of that class. Originally the term denoted the soldiers who guarded the Mikado's Palace; later it was applied to the whole military system and included: (1) the shōgun or commander-in-chief; (2) the daimios or territorial nobles; and (3) their retainers, the privileged two-sworded men, the lighting men, the gentlemen, and the scholars of the country. In 1868 the shogunate, and in 1871 the whole feudal system were abolished; the daimios returned their lands to the Emperor, and they and their retainers were granted pensions. The practice of wearing swords was prohibited. Finally in 1878 the names daimio and samurai were changed to kwazokŭ or ‘nobility,’ and shizoki or ‘gentry’ respectively. See Bushido; Daimio. Consult Knapp, Feudal and Modern Japan (Boston, 1876).