During the days of the Japanese feudal system, the ashigaru was the rough equivalent of a medieval European foot soldier. They were scarsely trained beyond how to march in armor and which end of the pointy stick (called the yari) was supposed to go into the enemy samurai whom they would inevitably face. Because of this, the ashigaru lines as a general rule took the heaviest casualties in battle, suffered greatly from inferior equipment, and as they were forced conscripts rather than volunteer soldiers, had a number of morale problems that stemmed from an unwillingness to die for a cause they know nothing about.

While an ashigaru is a soldier and thus a step up from a farmer, he is still a heimin- and as such, can be executed by a samurai if the soldier oversteps his very limited influence. Some ashigaru might be promoted to samurai status for extrodinary valorous conduct, but such cases are extraordinary indeed- even the stuff of legends...

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