Samurai (侍) were the hereditary military nobility and officer caste of medieval and early-modern Japan from the late 12th century to their abolition in 1876. They were the well-paid retainers of the daimyo (the great feudal landholders). They had high prestige and special privileges such as wearing two swords
Qualities of a Samurai
Bushido mentions the eight virtues of a Samurai being
Rise of the Samurai
The samurai as a class and culture emerged during the Heian period (895-1185), which was a time of great blossoming of art and culture in the capital of Kyoto.
Because the court government had no police force, bands of samurai gained power when the Heian government neglected the administration of the provinces. Samurai strength rested on strong group loyalty and discipline. These bands managed large areas of rice land in eastern Japan, around modern Tokyo.
Decline of the Samurai
In the 1870s samurai families comprised 5% of the population. As modern militaries emerged in the 19th century, the Samurai were rendered increasingly obsolete as very expensive to maintain compared to the average conscript soldier.