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A Very British Samurai (Assimilation)

A Very British Samurai (Assimilation)

Update: 2020-08-07


Japan in the 16th and 17th century was going through profound changes, not least of which being the ongoing civil war that had been ripping it apart for over a century, with warlord fighting warlord on a whim, the famed samurai chopping each other to bits on scales rarely seen elsewhere in the world. The other profound change involved men in black robes preaching the word of a god that the Japanese people had never heard of, but who many nonetheless gravitated toward. The Jesuits of Portugal followed by the Franciscan friars were in the process of converting an entire nation to their religious apparatus, as part of a long game of colonization, all while the three great unifiers of Japan--warlords who took control in sequence, sometimes by force--we struggling to bring Japan together under their own banner.


It was in April of 1600 that everything would change for everyone, when a Dutch ship piloted by one of the best English pilots Europe had ever seen, laid anchor off the coast of the southern island of Kyushu, its crew starving and half-mad after nearly two years trying to brave the two largest oceans on earth, losing not just most of their crew but the other four ships of the fleet she'd been a part of. 


The pilot of this ship would not only become the spokesperson for both the Dutch and the British, but essentially all foreign powers trying to do business in Japan from here on out. And somehow, against all odds, he would manage to not just impress the shogun vying to rule over all of Japan--the famous Tokugawa Ieyasu--but he would become so valuable to the man and to his kingdom that he would become one of the few non-Japanese men to be granted the title of samurai, and one of even fewer Europeans. 


This pilot's name was William Adams, and he was and remains the only British samurai to this day. This is the story of how something this impossible managed to happen, all through the simple act of assimilating to this new and alien culture.


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A Very British Samurai (Assimilation)

A Very British Samurai (Assimilation)

Alexander von Sternberg