Knights & Samurai Are they more similar or different?

Medieval Knight on Warhorse

Medieval Knights

Medieval Knights were the warriors of medieval Europe who were vassals to their lord and king. Their order began with the creation of the feudal system around 1000 C.E. until the 17th century with the introduction of gunpowder and canons. With these advancements, the armies of knights were no longer as effective, and soon the structure disintegrated.

However when the knights were the main fighting force in Europe, they proved effective in preventing external attacks against their lord. In return for the knight's protection and loyalty the lords gave the knights land, peasants, and a manor to make a living. The knights were the 3rd highest class in the feudal system, above peasants but below the rank of Monarch and Baron (Lords).

The knights lived by the code of chivalry, which demanded their loyalty to church and lord, required them to act fair, just, and protect the helpless. Courtesy and respect toward women was a main part of their behavior.

Medieval Knights Pt. 2

Training for knights started at the age of seven, where they would become a page/servant for the ladies. The pages learned horseback riding, religious rituals, singing, how to play the harp, and helped the ladies in their daily activities. Around the age of 14 the pages would become squires who served a knight, trained in fighting, and went to battle. A few years later, if the squire was deserving, he would be made a knight in reward for his hard work and valiant acts in battle.

Weapons/ Armor:

  • Two-handed sword
  • Battle-ax
  • Mace
  • Dagger
  • Lance: Long wooden staff with blade on the end
  • Shield (Usually with family insignia painted on it)
  • Helmet
  • Armor made of metal rings linked together (Upgraded to plate armor)
  • Hauberk: Chain mail shirt
  • Gauntlets: Armored glove
  • Greaves: Shin armor

Interesting Facts:

  1. The death blow that a knight landed on his opponent was called the "Coup de Grace".
  2. The common warhorse breed used by Medieval European knights is extinct.
Samurai Warrior in Battle

Samurai

The Samurai were the elite warrior group of Japan that began in the early 10th century and later in the 12th century ruled the provinces and Central Japan. However during the 14th century the way that the Samurai operated changed, until it soon began to resemble the the feudal system in Europe. During the 15th century Japan was in a period of chaos where the Samurai fought each other for their lords. The Samurai era finally ended in 1868 when the emperor's power was restored.

  • Shotgun: Head of the military government in the Samurai era
  • Daimyo: A local lord of Japan in the Samurai era

The position of the Samurai varied over a long period of time. After the year 1603 the Samurai were loyal to the Shotguns and administered government. In return for this the Shotguns gave them land. During the 14th century, the Japanese feudal period, the Samurai served the Daimyos. Later during the 17th century, nearing the end of the Samurai era they took the position as rulers of households.

The Samurai followed the Kendo code, also called "The Way of the Sword". This ethical code of the Samurai and was partially developed from Confucianism. This code stated that the Samurai must be loyal to their master, have respect for their superiors, demonstrate ethical behavior in all parts of life, and have self-discipline.

Samurai Pt. 2

Samurai training began at childhood, and during the training they were taught poetry, spiritual discipline, spiritual strength, self-control, art, preparedness, tea ceremonies, martial arts, Chinese studies, and mental strength. Some girls were given these lessons, but not to the full extent as a male trainee.

Weapons/Armor:

  • Swords (Long sword with curved blade/ Short sword)
  • Bows/ Arrows
  • Spears
  • Armor made of rows of small metal plated that were covered in lacquer and laced together
  • Broad shoulder guards
  • Metal sleeves
  • Heavy helmets/ Ferocious iron mask

Interesting Facts

  1. Ritual suicide with the Samurai's own sword was considered a valiant way to die.
  2. Samurai warriors burned incense in their helmets so that if their heads were cut off they would smell sweet.
Samurai VS. Knight

Similarities and Differences

Similarities:

  • Both warrior groups follow a strict honor code that demands qualities like loyalty and respect toward those of higher rank, and to act fairly/ ethically during daily life.
  • The training of both the Samurai and Knights started out as a young age and neither included just fighting/ martial arts skills.
  • Both served under the feudal system or something similar to the feudal system for some time.
  • Both the Samurai and the Knights wore armor and used similar weapons.
  • Warhorses were used in battle by both the Samurai and the Knights.
  • They were both around during the same period of time.

Differences:

  • The Samurai allowed a number of women to be trained while in Europe only men were trained in battle.
  • The social/ societal status of the Knights barely changed, but for the Samurai, their position changed many times.
  • The Samurai's ritual suicide, called "Seppuku", was considered a valiant way to die to the Samurai. Death in battle was considered honorable to the European Knights.
  • The Knights wore plate armor into battle, while the Samurai used armor made of small, woven metal pieces.
  • The Samurai's training was much more demanding than that of the Knight's.

More Similar of Different?

Although it could be argued either way, when considering the strength of the similarities and differences, the Samurai and Knights are more similar than they are different. For example, both the Samurai and the Knights followed and extremely similar honor code which dictated how they ran their life. Both groups also served under similar governments for a time and the training of the Samurai and Knights are also extremely similar. Although there are some differences, such as that the social/ societal position of the Samurai changed but the Knight's did not, when considering all the similarities and differences and the impact they had on these groups, the Samurai and Knights were more similar than they were different.

Samurai and Knights

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