Shogun: What Is a Fief? Meaning In the Show, Explained

By Russ Milheim Posted:

'Fief' is a term that appears in Shogun quite often, but many viewers might not know what the term means—so here is an explanation.

[ Shogun 2024 Cast, Characters & Actors (Photos) ]

What Is the Meaning of a 'Fief' in Shogun?

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A Fief, as discussed throughout FX's Shogun, is a form of property holding granted to a vassal by someone above them (such as Lord Toranaga) that would offer subjects an income.

Having that land meant the vassals would owe feudal allegiance, services, or even payments to their Lord in exchange.

But to further understand the idea of a fief in the context of Shogun's story, it's important to know what feudalism is.

Feudalism was a combination of customs across a broad spectrum—economic, military, cultural, political, etc.—that were structured around the idea of people owning land in exchange for service or labor.

The feudal system was most commonly found between the 9th and 15th centuries, but it was still around by 1600 when Shogun takes place.

Audiences will find many of the character's motivations throughout the new adaptation are rooted in the idea of gaining, or expanding one's fief. This is especially prevalent for Tadnobu Asano's Kashigi Yabushige.

Receiving a fief was extremely important for a multitude of reasons, such as for income, a place for a subject and their people to live, gaining power and influence, and more.

In Shogun, when it comes to those at the top of the food chain, there are five Lords, each with their competing fiefdoms, all vying for power: Ishido, Toranaga, Ohno, Kiyama, and Sugiyama.

Lords are not the only ones controlling fiefs, as each has vassals who run their own under the allegiance of their Lord.

[ Shogun 2024 FX TV Series Vs. Book Differences Explained by Producer (Exclusive) ]

Shogun is now streaming on Hulu.

Be sure to check out The Direct's conversation with Shogun producer Michaela Clavell:

- In This Article: Shogun
Release Date
February 27, 2024
Cable TV
Anna Sawai
Cosmo Jarvis
Hiroyuki Sanada
- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.