ronin

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ronin

(rō`nĭn), in Japanese history, masterless samuraisamurai
, knights of feudal Japan, retainers of the daimyo. This aristocratic warrior class arose during the 12th-century wars between the Taira and Minamoto clans and was consolidated in the Tokugawa period.
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. Ronin were retainers who were deprived of their place in the usual loyalty patterns of Japanese feudalism. The daimyodaimyo
[Jap.,=great name], the great feudal landholders of Japan, the territorial barons as distinguished from the kuge, or court nobles. Great tax-free estates were built up from the 8th cent.
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 they had served might have died, been exiled, or become so poor that the samurai had to abandon his lord. Ronin became farmers, monks, soldiers of fortune, or even bandits. In demand in times of war, they were often a burden on society in times of peace. At their best, as in the story of the 47 Ronin depicted by Chikamatsu in his popular drama, they are a model of loyalty and self-sacrifice exemplifying bushidobushido
[Jap.,=way of the warrior], code of honor and conduct of the Japanese nobility. Of ancient origin, it grew out of the old feudal bond that required unwavering loyalty on the part of the vassal. It borrowed heavily from Zen Buddhism and Confucianism.
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. In modern Japan, the term ronin is often given to high-school graduates who, having failed to pass college entrance exams, are preparing for another opportunity.