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Tokugawa shogunate

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The Tokugawa Shogunate or Tokugawa bakufu (徳川幕府) (also known as the Edo bakufu) was a feudal military dictatorship established in 1603 by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family to 1867 AD. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital based in Edo.

Following the Sengoku Period of "warring states", central government had been largely re-established by Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. After the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, central authority fell to Tokugawa Ieyasu who completed this process and received the title of shogun in 1603. His descendants were to hold the position, and the central authority that came with it, until the 19th century.

The Tokugawa period, unlike the shogunates before it, was based on the strict class hierarchy established by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The warrior-caste of samurai were at the top, followed by peasants, artisans, and traders. An additional class was filled by the burakumin (or eta), the lowest in status and socially despised for dealing in taboo trades connected with death. "Classless" persons such as entertainers also existed, having neither the restrictions nor the protections granted by the acknowledged castes.

Ironically, the very strictness of the caste system was to undermine these classes in the long run. Taxes on the peasantry were set to fixed amounts which did not account for inflation or other changes in monetary value. As a result, the tax revenues collected by the samurai landowners were worth less and less over time. This often led to confrontations between noble but impoverished samurai and well-to-do peasants. The autobiography of a late-period samurai, Msuii's Story, documents some such confrontations.

Toward the end of the 19th century, an alliance of several of the more powerful daimyo with the titular Emperor finally succeeded in the overthrow of the shogunate, culminating in the Meiji Restoration. The Tokugawa bakufu came to an official end in 1867 with the resignation of the 15th Tokugawa Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu and the "restoration" ('Taisei Houkan') of imperial rule.

  1. Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) (r. 1603-1605)
  2. Tokugawa Hidetada[?] (1579-1632) (r. 1605-1623)
  3. Tokugawa Iemitsu[?] (1604-1651) (r. 1623-1651)
  4. Tokugawa Ietsuna[?] (1641-1680) (r. 1651-1680)
  5. Tokugawa Tsunayoshi[?] (1646-1709) (r. 1680-1709)
  6. Tokugawa Ienobu[?] (1662-1712) (r. 1709-1712)
  7. Tokugawa Ietsugu[?] (1709-1716) (r. 1713-1716)
  8. Tokugawa Yoshimune[?] (1684-1751) (r. 1716-1745)
  9. Tokugawa Ieshige[?] (1711-1761) (r. 1745-1760)
  10. Tokugawa Ieharu[?] (1737-1786) (r. 1760-1786)
  11. Tokugawa Ienari[?] (1773-1841) (r. 1787-1837)
  12. Tokugawa Ieyoshi[?] (1793-1853) (r. 1837-1853)
  13. Tokugawa Iesada[?] (1824-1858) (r. 1853-1858)
  14. Tokugawa Iemochi[?] (1846-1866) (r. 1858-1866)
  15. Tokugawa Yoshinobu (1837-1913) (r. 1867

See also: shogun -- bakufu -- Cloistered rule -- History of Japan -- Lists of incumbents

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