Difference Between Japanese and European Feudalism (With Table)

In 800 CE, feudalism was established in Europe, but it came into existence in Japan only in the 1100s when Kamakura Shongute came into power. Japanese feudalism existed and was retained till 1868. With the rise of stronger political parties, European feudalism fell off. Both the systems were built based on the system of hereditary classes.

Japanese vs European Feudalism

The difference between Japanese and European Feudalism is the year of establishment. Feudalism is generally the type of rule or government in a specific region. It is a form or system of rule which consists of a set of the military in addition to legal duties. In this type of government, the weaker party tries to take power.

Japanese feudalism was a period of high power. Japanese feudalism was similar and based on the philosophies of the philosopher Kong Qiu. Morality and filial piety towards the hierarchy and the elders were the major principles that were stressed in Japanese feudalism. The daimon and the samurai took over the responsibility of conserving and protecting the inhabitants, peasants, and the villagers.

European feudalism was following the roman imperial laws, and it was taken care of By the Catholic Church. The laws and customs were provided by the traditions of Germany. European knights were very serious with warfare and used or adorned a lot of armor and other equipment. They fought on the horse and possessed strong, powerful warfare.

Comparison Table Between Japanese and European Feudalism

Parameters of ComparisonJapanese FeudalismEuropean Feudalism
ArmorJapanese Armor was mostly made up of metals but also included silk, leather, and metal bindings.The knights adorned armor and weapons that were entirely made up of metal and not much of any other material.
InfluenceThe ideas and philosophies of Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, influenced Japanese feudalism. Roman imperial laws and theories were the inspiration for the customs and rules of European feudalism.
Land OwnershipThe samurai were not privileged to earn any land, and they were paid in rice or grains.  The knights were paid in the form of assets and land as a return for their service.
Women’s RoleSamurai women were also considered too powerful, gallant, and brave, just like the men.  The Europeans considered the females weak, fragile, and always needed to be taken care of.    
Literacy Samurai were stressed to have cultural values and develop their artistic skills like poetry, music, and calligraphy.    European knights weren’t literate, and they did not know much about the cultures and values since they were not educated.

What is Japenese Feudalism?

In Japanese feudalism, being a part of it or being a warrior was quite hard. It was their lifestyle rather than their job. The bushi is another name given to the samurais, followed by the “way of the warrior,” which was a system that stressed more on discipline, honor, honesty, loyalty, and much more.

The warriors of the samurai were supposed to be completely dedicated and were expected to commit to it and would put their lives at stake. The warriors were supposed to kill themselves if they crossed their lines of loyalties, honesty, commitment, and honor.

The warriors are to be committed, and in return, they receive financial provisions, shelter, protection, and all the basic necessities to live a comfortable life. Though the warriors were ready to place their entire faith on their master, the constant change in power and position tend to perplex them.

From Europe, the warriors came to London during the rule of Nobunaga. It was such a big advantage for the warriors, and it was convenient for them to establish and take charge.

Nobunaga was a dedicated and religious follower of Buddhism, and as a result, he set fire on all of the monasteries and monks and established Jesuit monasteries that have their roots in Portugal and Spain.

What is European Feudalism?

According to European feudalism, all the lands were owned by the king. The emperor was the ruler, and the hierarchy below him consisted of nobles. The nobles with the high positions were also allowed to own lands, while the nobles holding lower positions were allowed to own only a single manor.

The vassal and the suzerain are the two parties that are involved in the system of owning the land. The vassal is the higher authority who is the recipient of the land.

The suzerain is the actual owner of the land who was supposed to hand over their land and also the ownership to the vassal or the nobles holding the higher positions. The vassal takes position and power through a ceremony called the fief, in which the vassal would take an oath of fealty to express his faith and promise they would be committed to their services and acts.

This ceremony is supposed to bridge the gap and connect the lord and the vassal. The ceremony occurs every time the vassal dies, and a new person is about to take charge. The nobility was a class of military people or warriors with armor and weapons who are lead by the knight.

Main Differences Between Japanese and European Feudalism

  1. Japanese Samurai wore silk, leather, and metal as their armor, whereas the European knight used only metals.
  2. Japanese laws were influenced by the Chinese, whereas European feudalism was influenced by the Romans.
  3. Japanese Samurais did not own any lands, but the European knights did.
  4. Japanese women were warriors, but European women were considered weak.  
  5. Japanese samurai were cultured and educated, but the European were not.


This feudalism is a system of social and political affairs where the landholders exchange their land with the villagers for money, shelter, food, and safety. It came into existence in the Middle Ages and was ruled by the vassal and was supposed to commit yourselves and serve faithfully and maintaining loyalty.

However, it is an outdated and unpreferred system of rule and power. It has been out there for really a long time, from the fifth century to the twelfth century. This was beneficial for the vassals and the nobles with the high position, but it was risky for the lives of the villagers who served them.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/177767
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/40401876

Bibliography vs Biography video