In the early 10th century, the samurai were an elite force. From 794-1185, the Heian Period, samurai were armored supporters of wealthy landowners. During the 12th century came the first military dictatorship, the shogunate. In the mid-12th century, power shifted from emperors and nobles to heads of clans. Then in the late 12th century, samurai lords ruled the provinces and central Japan. The samurai backed up the shogunate and gave the power over the Mikado.
In 1650, they began governing through civil means rather than military force. Then in 1868, there was the Meiji restoration and the feudal system ended. By 1871, feudalism was completely abolished. In the end, samurai lost much of their power and Japan extended their trading. The samurai class was outlawed and their privilege status dissolved.
Knights appeared during the rule of King Charlemagne and fought in the Crusades. During the 11th century, knights armor consisted of metal rings linked together. Then in the 14th century, they used plate armor because it provided more protection. Joan of Arc participated in the Hundred's year war in the 14th century also. Knighthood ended in the 17th century after knights fighting one-on-one on horseback was no longer useful due to the use of gunpowder and cannons.
Armor- Small iron scales were tied together, lacquered, and then bound into armor plates with silk or leather cord and the helmet bowl was made of 8-12 plates. They had a 5 piece neck guard and the body of armor had 4 parts. They didn't wear armor on their right arm so that they could easily draw their bow. The silk cords absorbed water when the armor was wet, making the armor very heavy. For battle, the tops of their heads were shaved with hair straight down on the sides, this reduced heat under the heavy helmets.
Daily wear- Their hair was pulled back into a topknot called chomage. Children dressed flamboyantly and became more subdued after their coming-of-age ceremony and outlandish, colorful patterns were considered immodest and conceited. A silk kimono was worn daily and and it's quality depended on income and status. A loincloth was worn beneath the kimono. The kamishimo was worn over the kimono when leaving the house.
Samurai not in battle- Swords were worn on the left side in a belt around the waist called an obi. A samurai was always armed, except his sword was removed when indoors. His face was hidden by a hat when going to town for pleasure in case he was caught disobeying any rules.
Armor- AT one point tough leather was worn as protection. Chainmail was worn during the 1200's but later switched to plate armor to protect against crossbows and longbows. They wore helmets, gloves, and shoes of steel making the armor weigh 40-60 pounds. Even their horse wore armor. Armor was expensive to produce because it was tailor-made to fit the knight exactly.
Weaponry- The development of guns ended armor because any armor thick enough to stop a bullet was too heavy to wear. The two-handed sword, battle axe, mace, dagger, and lance were commonly used by knights.
Training began in childhood for the samurai and schooling consisted of physical training, Chinese studies, poetry, and spiritual discipline. They studied kendo (fencing with bamboo sticks), moral code of the Samurai, and Zen Buddhism. They trained daily and learned to harden their feelings and use weapons. At age 14, the trainees officially became samurai at a ceremony called Genpuku
Knights training began when they were 4-5, starting with learning to ride a pony. When they turned 7-8, they were sent to serve as a page to his father or powerful relative. They practiced with blunted or wooden swords, learned horse skills, and got religious instruction. They were considered fighting men at age 14 when the became a squire and they continued with weapon training. They were to accompany their master knight into battle, dress him, feed him, care for his horses, and hope he'd be worthy. When he gained approval from his knight at around age 21, he was knighted at a special ceremony and became an official knight.
The code of honor, Bushido (as shown), used Confucian values of obedience and duty, life is temporary and full of suffering, and giving up selfish desires will help avoid suffering. You must live according to the Bushido and discharge loyal service to ones master if he has one. He should confine himself to practicing The Way and strive to fulfill it. Also deepen his loyalty in association with friends and stand in physical readiness for any call to service. He should keep his weapons ready for use but also keep to the ways of peace. In service to their master, they should live and die in service to them and give their lives without hesitation. There was unwavering loyalty to their master and respect for one's superior. They should have complete self discipline and ethical behavior in all aspects of life. Finally, rather than suffering defeat or humiliation in front of an enemy, seppuku (ritual suicide) was often chosen.
A knights code of behavior was chivalry and dishonor to knighthood was the greatest disgrace. They took the values of true knighthood and solemnly promised to do no wicked deed. They were to be loyal to their king and give mercy to those asking it. It was important for a knight to be courteous and helpful to ladies and that,s where you get the saying "knight in shining armor". Being worthy of knighthood honor by being strong, brave, courteous, and loyal bearing under great difficulties was the highest end goal of living. In total, there is 17 entries in the Code of Chivalry that a knight should follow.