Were Paekche and Shilla vassals of Yamato?

Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,433
Loserville
#1
According to the Nihon Shoki, possibly the Samguk Sagi, and one interpretation of the Kwanggaet'o stele, Paekche and Shilla were vassals of Yamato and paid tribute.

We do know the Nihon Shoki has a lot of myth and a political slant that may not reflect reality.

Supposedly they sent their princes as hostages there, but if you look at the instances are often other reasons: exiling sons of previous kings or to secure a military alliance.

Since Japan didn't really organize into a state until the late fifth and into the sixth century (and even then only had control over the Kinai region), whereas Paekche and Shilla achieved this in the late third and late fourth centuries, respectively.

It seems unlikely to me that these two kingdoms would have sent princes as hostages to a far less politically advanced society which acquired the very high culture from them.

I still see them referred to as hostages or that Paekche and Shilla were tributaries of Yamato.

Is there evidence of these actually being hostages or of Shilla and Paekche paying tribute (and not gifts) to Japan?
 
Sep 2016
442
天下
#2
Hmm, Buyeo certainly sent family members to cement the alliance with Wa. Hostages in many cultures were used to make sure that the other side doesn't betray the hostage holders. In Japan they remained a common element of dipromacy all the way to Tokugawa Shogunate. That send were sons of previous kings is nothing strange either.

And about tribute, this is just political propaganda. Just like Qing China called every gift from Westerners a tribute, so did Japan. Possibly Wa held some greater influence in some of the city states of Gaya and Imna. Relations with Baekje were also quite close, with Nihon Shoki even stating that a member of Mononobe clan serving as governor of one provinces of Baekje, implying that even aristocracy moved between the states. But it's hard to really discern the truth due to the lack of proper sources. Nihon Shoki is heavily collaborated, even if it includes infornation from original Baekje chronicles. Samguk Sagi also was written by scholars who wanted to emphasise the unity of Korean nation and likely also omitted details that didn't fit official story. Though in my opinion Baekje and Wa held more brotherly relations. The first offered culture, craftsmen, expertise, while the latter offered military assistiance.
 
Mar 2012
4,101
#3
If the Japanese and Silla fight over seating in 753 in the Tang court are based on reality, then there might very well be some sort of vassalage at one time. How advanced a state is is irrelevant, power and influence is what matters; even Chinese states have declared vassalage to Turuks before.
 

Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,433
Loserville
#4
If the Japanese and Silla fight over seating in 753 in the Tang court are based on reality, then there might very well be some sort of vassalage at one time. How advanced a state is is irrelevant, power and influence is what matters; even Chinese states have declared vassalage to Turuks before.
How does that mean there was vassalage?

Was Yamato more powerful than Shilla or Paekche?
 
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Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,433
Loserville
#5
Hmm, Buyeo certainly sent family members to cement the alliance with Wa. Hostages in many cultures were used to make sure that the other side doesn't betray the hostage holders. In Japan they remained a common element of dipromacy all the way to Tokugawa Shogunate. That send were sons of previous kings is nothing strange either.

And about tribute, this is just political propaganda. Just like Qing China called every gift from Westerners a tribute, so did Japan. Possibly Wa held some greater influence in some of the city states of Gaya and Imna. Relations with Baekje were also quite close, with Nihon Shoki even stating that a member of Mononobe clan serving as governor of one provinces of Baekje, implying that even aristocracy moved between the states. But it's hard to really discern the truth due to the lack of proper sources. Nihon Shoki is heavily collaborated, even if it includes infornation from original Baekje chronicles. Samguk Sagi also was written by scholars who wanted to emphasise the unity of Korean nation and likely also omitted details that didn't fit official story. Though in my opinion Baekje and Wa held more brotherly relations. The first offered culture, craftsmen, expertise, while the latter offered military assistiance.
This is more or less how I'm inclined to see it but I wanted to hear other peer opinions.
 
Mar 2015
762
Europe
#6
According to the Nihon Shoki, possibly the Samguk Sagi, and one interpretation of the Kwanggaet'o stele, Paekche and Shilla were vassals of Yamato and paid tribute.

We do know the Nihon Shoki has a lot of myth and a political slant that may not reflect reality.

Supposedly they sent their princes as hostages there, but if you look at the instances are often other reasons: exiling sons of previous kings or to secure a military alliance.

Since Japan didn't really organize into a state until the late fifth and into the sixth century (and even then only had control over the Kinai region),
Um, no.
In Wei zhi, we find out that northern Kyushu was controlled from distant Yamatai already in early 3rd century, and that it was already then status quo.
whereas Paekche and Shilla achieved this in the late third and late fourth centuries, respectively.

It seems unlikely to me that these two kingdoms would have sent princes as hostages to a far less politically advanced society which acquired the very high culture from them.
In 2nd century BC, Xiongnu was less politically advanced than Han.
Yet Han had to pay tribute to Xiongnu.
Japan was big. Even united Choson, in early 20th century, had about half the population of united Japan. Disunited Silla and Pekche may have been culturally more advanced, but they were individually small.
 

Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,433
Loserville
#7
Um, no.
In Wei zhi, we find out that northern Kyushu was controlled from distant Yamatai already in early 3rd century, and that it was already then status quo.
There is no archaeological evidence of a state before the late fifth century, and the most powerful chiefdom did not even control all of the Nara basin (it actually shared it with two other polities), much less the entire territory where the Kofun tombs were until the late fourth century. However, it probably had influence over a much larger region.

In 2nd century BC, Xiongnu was less politically advanced than Han.
Yet Han had to pay tribute to Xiongnu.
Japan was big. Even united Choson, in early 20th century, had about half the population of united Japan. Disunited Silla and Pekche may have been culturally more advanced, but they were individually small.
But could Japan mobilize the amount of troops across water comparable to what the peninsular kingdoms could?
 
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Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,433
Loserville
#8
The kofun tombs are not evidence of a state, but of a cultural network of chiefs. Most of the early ones had practically no items of value in them. So far as I know there's no evidence of a complex social ranking beyond basic chiefdoms

In the mid fifth century some massive ones hundreds of meters long began to be built in the Osaka area which probably reflects the beginnings of an emerging state. This is also the time when Yamato rulers started trying to get recognition from China.

Even in the late fourth century Yamato didn't have total control as some of the Wa polities raided Shilla while the latter remained on good terms with Yamato.

Heck, Yamato wasn't even smelting its own iron until the sixth century. Before that it acquired iron through trade with Shilla and Kaya.

Was Yamato more militarily or otherwise powerful than the peninsular kingdoms?
 
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Sep 2016
442
天下
#9
Um, no.
In Wei zhi, we find out that northern Kyushu was controlled from distant Yamatai already in early 3rd century, and that it was already then status quo.
The account in Wei Zhi is problematic because scholars cannot come into agreement where exactly the states it talkes about were placed. Also, it doesn't tell us much about the nature of relations between states subverient (属) to Yamatai. It tells us that there was a rival king of Kuna (狗奴国) to the south of Yamatai (Ki? Kyushu? Shikoku?).

Was Yamato more militarily or otherwise powerful than the peninsular kingdoms?
Whether it was more powerful is hard to gauge. However, we have an ample evidence of Wa soldiers penetrating Korean peninsula from sea, and of course Baekje making alliances with them, so their military capabilities had to be somewhat respectable. Maybe indeed the tribute coming from the peninsula was a bribe to stop naval raids like Han vs Steppe tribes. It's not an unreasonable idea I think.
 

Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,433
Loserville
#10
Whether it was more powerful is hard to gauge. However, we have an ample evidence of Wa soldiers penetrating Korean peninsula from sea, and of course Baekje making alliances with them, so their military capabilities had to be somewhat respectable. Maybe indeed the tribute coming from the peninsula was a bribe to stop naval raids like Han vs Steppe tribes. It's not an unreasonable idea I think.
Seems reasonable. The Wa raided Shilla in the 360s-390s and they were obviously a fairly powerful force since they threatened the capital. Paekche sent multiple princes to cement military alliances over the centuries, although some of these were definitely after a state had formed in Japan. My point is that since the Wa polities weren't really unified when a lot of this supposed tribute occurred, so I have doubts about their ability to exact tribute or be unified enough to put together a force that could be projected across water and actually subjugate either of the peninsular kingdoms (that is, before the formation of the Yamato state).
 
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