By Eric Niderost In the 17th century samurai were elite warriors, members of Japan’s ruling class. They were born, not made; you had to come from a samurai family to be considered samurai. Their exalted status was proclaimed by the daisho, or matching pair of swords, each samurai proudly wore. The samurai were justly famous, but the backbone of any army was the Japanese ashigaru, or "foot soldier." The foot soldier was generally of peasant stock, but his status subtlety changed over the cours

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