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How did the Tokugawa Shogunate maintain power?

The Tokugawa Shogunate maintained power through a strict social hierarchy, centralised political control, and isolationist foreign policies.

The Tokugawa Shogunate, also known as the Edo period, was a time of relative peace and stability in Japan, lasting from 1603 to 1868. The Shogunate maintained power through a variety of means, one of which was the establishment of a strict social hierarchy. This hierarchy was based on Confucian principles and divided society into four main classes: samurai, farmers, artisans, and merchants. The samurai were at the top of this hierarchy and were the ruling class, while the emperor was a figurehead with no real power. This system ensured that power remained with the Shogunate and the samurai class.

Another key method of maintaining power was through centralised political control. The Shogunate implemented a system known as 'Bakuhan', which was a combination of the feudal system and a centralised government. The country was divided into over 200 domains, each ruled by a Daimyo (feudal lord). These Daimyos were required to spend every other year in Edo (now Tokyo), the capital, which allowed the Shogunate to keep a close eye on them and prevent any potential rebellions. This system also helped to maintain economic control, as the Daimyos had to maintain two residences and travel back and forth, which was a significant financial burden.

The Shogunate also maintained power through isolationist foreign policies, known as 'Sakoku'. This policy severely limited foreign influence and trade, only allowing it with certain approved nations such as China and the Netherlands. This helped to prevent the spread of Christianity, which was seen as a threat to the Shogunate's power, and also limited the influence of foreign powers.

In addition, the Shogunate controlled education and implemented a system of censorship, further consolidating their power. They promoted Neo-Confucianism, which emphasised loyalty and obedience to authority, reinforcing the social hierarchy and the Shogunate's position at the top. The censorship of literature and the arts ensured that only approved ideas and values were disseminated, helping to maintain the status quo.

In conclusion, the Tokugawa Shogunate maintained power through a combination of social, political, and economic control, as well as through isolationist foreign policies and control of education and culture.

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