Year: 2001 Source: The Medieval History Journal, v.4, no.2, (2001), p.241-257 SIEC No: 20070147

In the course of the eleventh & twelfth centuries, the warrior elites of Japan & northwestern Europe, despite many similarities in ethos & lifestyle, developed very different cultures of death. This paper examines the origins of these. While differences in religion played some role, they are not found to be deterministic. Rather, differences in symbolic political cultures, locations of political power, family structures, & relationships of warrior classes to peasant production are shown to have created contexts in which suicide made sense for warriors in Japan, but was counterproductive in Europe. (51 refs.)