(Japanese, ‘great names’)
Japan's feudal lords. They expanded their samurai armies during the confusion of the Ashikaga period, and territorial disputes between daimyo threatened Japan's unity. A reallocation of fiefs under Hideyoshi had reduced their power by 1591. The Tokugawa controlled much of their activity, although during this shogunate (1600–1878) the daimyo continued to exercise local control over domains comprising two-thirds of Japan. The new national government at the time of the Meiji Restoration persuaded the daimyo to surrender their titles, powers, and privileges as feudal landowners, compensating them by payment of a portion of their former revenues. This, along with the dismantling of the samurai class of warriors who served the daimyo, helped transform Japan from a feudal to a centralized state.
Subjects: World History.