Tokugawa Shogunate (1600-1868)

By: Ryan Mennitt and Kailey Pickhardt


The fall of the Edo period, also known as Tokugawa Shogunate was mainly due to the heavy taxes, persecution of Christianity, as well as the feudalism cause by the military.

Heavy Taxation

The Shimabara Rebellion is just one example of how heavy taxes brought down Tokugawa Shogunate. In 1637, local peasants were angered at the increase of taxes. In a violent attempt to stop the increasing taxes, a full rebellion broke out. Hoping to suppress the violence, 125,000 troops were sent to the area of conflict and fought against nearly 35,000 people not including numerous women and children. At the end of the rebellion, 380 rebels lay dead, slayed by the Tokugawa Shogunate government.

Below is a scene of the Shimabara Rebellion, painted by Yamato Takato


In the year 1600 the Tokugawa empire took over Japan with the victory in the

Battle of Sekigahara. They would stay in charge for the next 250 years in the capital of Edo until foreign influences destroyed the empire. They would be the last feudal rulers of Japan. The Tokugawa civilization relied on a militaristic government ruled by a shogun and lords. To make sure chaos and civil war didn't break out the clans set family members to live with other rival lords to stop from wars to break out. The practice was called daimyo.

Persecution of Christianity

Starting in 1614, the public persecution of people from the Christian church was led by the dominant military caste of Tokugawa Shogunate. In 1637, a catholic rebel leader, Amakusa Shiro, was beheaded along with nearly 37,000 other rebels and the practice of Christianity was prohibited. Crucifixion after torture was also a common fate that many Catholics faced during the period of rule under the Tokugawa Shogunate. During the Tokugawa Shogunate ban on Christianity, those who survived the rebellion (Shimabara Rebellion) were driven underground to practice their religion in secrecy or were forced to publicly renounce their faith. Although the government believed that Christians were bringing disorder to Japanese society, many priests and Catholics stayed in Japan illegally and practiced secretly until the ban on Christianity was relieved when Japan opened itself to foreign exchange after years of seclusion and isolation.


The Tokugawa empire relied heavily on their economy throughout there rule. Their most important product they produced was rice but only exported to certain countries. They sort of isolated themselves from the western world which helped destroy the civilization. They also created areas of deforestation which had a dramatic effect on the empire.


Works Cited

Diamond, Jared. "Chapter 9: Opposite Paths to Success." Collapse: How Societies Chose to Fail or Succeed. Toronto: Penguin, 2005. 294-308. Print.

"Japan: The Tokugawa." Asia for Educators. Weatherhead East Asia Institute at Columbia University, 2009. Web. 03 Mar. 2014.

McNeill, R, J.. "woods and WARFARE IN WORLD HISTORY." Environmental History3(2004):388. eLibrary Science. Web. 03 Mar 2014.

Yonemoto, Marcia. "Tokugawa - Essay | Imaging Japanese History." Tokugawa Japan: An Introductory Essay. University of Colorado at Boulder, 2010. Web. 03 Mar. 2014.