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...