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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

THE LEGISLATION OF IEMITSU AND IETSUNAOn the 5th of August


THE LEGISLATION OF IEMITSU AND IETSUNA

On the 5th of August, 1635, a body of laws was issued by Iemitsu under the title of Buke Sho-hatto, and these laws were again promulgated on June 28, 1665, by the fourth shogun, Ietsuna, with a few alterations. The gist of the code of Iemitsu was as follows: That literature and arms were to be the chief object of cultivation; that the great and small barons were to do service by turns in Yedo, strict limits being set to the number of their retainers; that all work on new castles was strictly interdicted, and that all repairs of existing castles must not be undertaken without sanction from the Yedo administration; that in the event of any unwonted occurrence, all barons present at the scene must remain and await the shogun's orders; that no person other than the officials in charge might be present at an execution; that there must be no scheming innovations, forming of parties, or taking of oaths; that private quarrels were strictly interdicted, and that all matters difficult of arrangement must be reported to the Yedo administration; that barons having an income of ten thousand koku or more, and their chief officials, must not form matrimonial alliances without the shogun's permission; that greater simplicity and economy must be obeyed in social observances, such as visits of ceremony, giving and receiving presents, celebrating marriages, entertaining at banquets, building residences, and general striving after elegance; that there must be no indiscriminate intermingling (of ranks); that, as regards the materials of dress, undyed silk with woven patterns (shiro aya) must be worn only by Court nobles (kuge) and others of the highest ranks; that wadded coats of undyed silk might be worn by daimyo and others of higher rank; that lined coats of purple silk, silk coats with the lining of purple, white gloss silk, and coloured silk coats without the badge were not to be worn at random; that coming down to retainers, henchmen, and men-at-arms, the wearing by such persons of ornamental dresses such as silks, damask, brocade, or embroideries was quite unknown to the ancient laws, and a stop must be put to it; that all the old restrictions as to riding in palanquins must be observed; that retainers who had a disagreement with their original lord were not to be taken into employment by other daimyo; that if any such was reported as having been guilty of rebellion or homicide, he was to be sent back (to his former lord); that any who manifests a refractory disposition must either be sent back or expelled; that where the hostages given by sub-vassals to their mesne lords had committed an offence requiring punishment by banishment or death, a report in writing of the circumstances must be made to the administrators' office and their decision awaited; that in case the circumstances were such as to necessitate or justify the instant cutting-down of the offender, a personal account of the matter must be given to the administrator; that lesser feudatories must honestly discharge the duties of their position and refrain from giving unlawful or arbitrary orders (to the people of their fiefs); that they must take care not to impair the resources or well-being of the province or district in which they are; that roads, relays of post-horses, boats, ferries, and bridges must be carefully attended to, so as to ensure that there should be no delays or impediments to quick communication; that no private toll-bars might be erected or any existing ferry discontinued; that no vessels of over five hundred koku burden were to be built; that the glebe lands of shrines and temples scattered throughout the provinces, having been attached to them from ancient times to the present day, were not to be taken from them; that the Christian sect was to be strictly prohibited in all the provinces and in all places; that in case of any unfilial conduct the offender should be dealt with under the penal law; that in all matters the example set by the laws of Yedo was to be followed in all the provinces and places.


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