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Primary Source Document with Questions (DBQs) THE EDICTS OF TOYOTOMI HIDEYOSHI: EXCERPTS FROM COLLECTION OF SWORDS, 1588 Introduction The unification of Japan and the creation of a lasting national polity in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries required more than just military exploits. Japan’s “three unifiers,” especially Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598) and Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616), enacted a series of social, economic, and political reforms in order to pacify a population long accustomed to war and instability and create the institutions necessary for lasting central rule. Although Hideyoshi and Ieyasu placed first priority on domestic affairs — especially on establishing authority over domain lords, warriors, and agricultural villages — they also dictated sweeping changes in Japan’s international relations. In 1588, in what has come to be known as the “sword hunt,” Hideyoshi decreed that farmers should be disarmed, essentially guaranteeing the samurai elite a monopoly on the instruments of violence. Selected Document Excerpts with Questions From Japan: A Documentary History: The Dawn of History to the Late Tokugawa Period, edited by David J. Lu (Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1997), 191-192. © 2001 M. E. Sharpe. Reproduced with the permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. The$Edicts$of$Toyotomi$Hideyoshi:$Excerpts)from)Collection$of$Swords,$1588$!(a)!The!Edict:!!1. Farmers!of!all! provinces! are!strictly!forbidden! to! have!in!their! possession! any!swords,!short!swords,!bows,!spears,!firearms,!or!other!types!of!weapons.!If!unnecessary!implements!of!war! are! kept,! the! collection! of! annual! rent! (nengu)! may! become! more! difficult,! and! without!provocation!uprisings!can!be!fomented.!Therefore,!those!who!perpetrate!improper!acts!against!samurai!who!receive!a!grant!of!land!(kyūnin)!must!be!brought!to!trial!and!punished.!However,!in!that!event,!their!wet!and!dry!fields!will!remain!unattended,!and!the!samurai!will!lose!their!rights!(chigyō),to!the!yields!from!the!fields.!Therefore,!the!heads!of!the!provinces,!samurai!who!receive!a!grant!of!land,!and!deputies!must!collect!all!the!weapons!described!above!and!submit!them!to!Hideyoshi’s!government.!2. The!swords!and! short! swords!collected!in! the! above!manner!will! not! be!wasted.!They!will!be!used!as!nails!and!bolts!in!the!construction!of!the!Great!Image!of!Buddha.!In!this!way,!farmers!will!benefit!not!only!in!this!life!but!also!in!the!lives!to!come.!Primary Source Document with Questions (DBQs) on THE EDICTS OF TOYOTOMI HIDEYOSHI: EXCERPTS FROM COLLECTION OF SWORDS, 1588 Asia for Educators l Columbia University l http://afe.easia.columbia.edu Page 2 of 2 3. If! farmers! possess! only! agricultural! implements! and! devote! themselves! exclusively! to!cultivating!the!fields,!they!and!their!descendants!will!prosper.!This!compassionate!concern!for!the!well‑being!of!the!farms!is!the!reason!for!the!issuance!of!this!edict,!and!such!a!concern!is!the!foundation!for!the!peace!and!security!of!the!country!and!the!joy!and!happiness!of!all!the!people.!…!All!the!implements!cited!above!shall!be!collected!and!submitted!forthwith.!!Vermillion,seal,of,Hideyoshi,Sixteenth,year,of,Tenshō,[1588],,seventh,month,,8th,day,!(b)!Commentary!!All! the! swords! possessed! by! farmers! in! this! country! have! been! collected! for! the! ostensible!purpose!of!making!nails!for!the!erecting!of!the!Great!Image!of!Buddha.!…!But!truthfully,!this!is!a!measure!specifically!adopted!to!prevent!occurrence!of!peasant!uprisings!(ikki).!Indeed!various!motivations!are!behind!this.!!!Questions: 1. What reasons does the edict give for the collection of all weapons from farmers? 2. How do you think you would have reacted to this as a farmer at the time? 3. Why does Hideyoshi promise that the collected swords will be used to construct the Great Image of Buddha? 4. What do you think Hideyoshi’s motivations were in decreeing this disarmament of the


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