- from Ancient Japan
By the early 1100s, Japan was in trouble. Powerful landlords would not pay taxes or give the emperor soldiers for his army.
The government was weak, and officials were losing control. Robbers wandered the roads. Rich landowners were building their own armies. Many of the soldiers were peasant farmers, loyal to landowners and not the far-away emperor. The private armies of the most powerful clans fought each other. The soldiers promised total loyalty to their clan leaders. These warriors called themselves samurai. That means “those who serve.” Soon, samurai armies were the most powerful fighting forces in Japan.