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Why uphold loyalty?

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Rice Farmer
Rice Farmer
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:07 pm    Post subject: Why uphold loyalty? Reply with quote
Matsudaira family started with a small domain of Imagawa vassals. Even before Tokugawa Ieyasu was moved from his ancestral Sumpu, he had around a million koku - yet ended up with the whole Japan of about 20 million koku. His original retainers would have done well - yet he had to recruit a lot of new retainers.

Large number of retainers of losing sides were made ronin. But it was proven that ronin were a social problem, in 1615, and 1651 etc. And the shogunate somewhat recognized the problem. How?

When Asano Naganori committed felony and was forced to commit seppuku, his 300 retainers were all made ronin. About 50 of them swore to avenge him.

Why did the shogunate enforce and reward loyalty which was pointed towards crimes and liable to be employed for rebellions?

Suppose that the next, completely unrelated daimyo of the Ako domain (Nagao Naohiro) had instead offered to immediately keep all the retainers of Asano Naganori in his employ in their previous posts.

What would the retainers have then done?

Taken up the offer and discarded their loyalty to their dead lord gladly?

Declined the offer as unsuitable to their honour and voluntarily have become ronin for sake of loyalty (and possily plotted revenge)?

Taken up the offer but have plotted vengeance in their official positions?
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Miko no Kami
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
For starters, daimyo moving into a new fief will be bringing their own retainers and vassals with them. Obviously, then, there wouldn't be enough to hire all of the 'old' retainers/now ronin. Some would likely get hired-the very skilled ones, but even they wouldn't be likely to get a very high post (again, the daimyo is going to mostly use his old retainers for that). Many of these wouldn't agree to be employed at a lower status position than what they had. And of course, the Bakufu forbade the hiring of ronin except in certain cases where they would give their approval. If the Bakufu relaxed their restrictions, economics and pride still would find most of the ronin unemployed.

Hypothetically, what would the Ako ronin have done if they had all been offered jobs by the incoming Lord? I believe most of them would have jumped at the offer and dropped the idea of getting revenge. The entire reason the Ronin's raid on Kira was delayed for so long was because Oishi was working to get the Asano reinstated under the younger brother and the vast majority of the Ako ronin were happy to sit back, wait, and see if they would get their positions back. However, there was a small group of Ronin (about 3 or 4) that wanted to attack Kira immediately-they probably wouldn't have cared if they got their positions back or not, or might have accepted them and still plotted revenge.

However, declaring that the 'new lord' (which was often just the Tokugawa confiscating the lands and adding them to their domain) would hire all of the old retainers wouldn't have been a solution to the ronin problem. Economically and from the standpoint of keeping the loyalty of his old retainers, it just wasn't feasible. Not to mention that hiring retainers who would be of suspect loyalty to you wouldn't be such a hot idea. Think about it-in the 47 Ronin's case, a handful of the diehard Asano supporters go ahead with the raid-and now the new daimyo that 'hired' them is going to have the responsibility put right on his shoulders.
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