6 the life of the average peasant was one of much

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Unformatted text preview: gunate not only dictated rules of conduct for them but also severely restricted their freedom of action. Daimyos, for example, were not allowed to marry or to repair castles in the domains without permission of the shogunate. Moreover, especially during the first century of Tokugawa rule, the daimyos were frequently shifted from one domain to another or were deprived of their domains entirely for various acts prohibited by the shogunate. But the most important measure by which the Tokugawa controlled the daimyos was the “alternate attendance” (sankin kòtai) system, implemented between 1635 and 1642, which required the daimyos to spend every other year in attendance at the shogunate court in Edo (half the daimyos were in Edo one year and the other half were there the next year) and to leave their wives and children behind whenever they returned to their domains. In addition to discouraging any separatist or other seditious thoughts, the alternate attendance system placed a heavy financial burden on the daimyos that further reduced the feasibility of their opposing the shogunate. Although intended primarily to control the daimyos, the alternate attendance system had other, far-reaching effects, not all of which could have been foreseen by the shogunate. The rapid and vast flow of warriors, their families and servants, and countless artisans, merchants, and others into Edo soon swelled its population to enormous size, perhaps as many as a million, making it one of the largest cities in the world. Meanwhile, the constant shuttling back and forth of daimyo retinues— some numbering in the thousands—from domains to Edo and back contributed greatly to the development of transportation facilities throughout the country. It also proved a great stimulus to the expansion of commerce, since provisioning the retinues and providing for their needs while on the road became big business. The alternate attendance system also had important consequences in the cultural realm, contributing to the development for th...
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