In Japan (c. 8th–15th century), a private, tax-free, often autonomous estate. As the shoen increased in numbers, they undermined the political and economic power of the central government and contributed to the growth of powerful local clans. Landowners would commend their parcels of land to powerful families or religious institutions with tax-free status, thereby obtaining that status for themselves. All people connected with the land—the powerful patron, the owner, and the estate manager—had rights to part of the income from the land. During the Kamakura period (1192–1333), the shogunate (military government) asserted authority over the shoen by inserting its own stewards (jito) into each estate to collect taxes. During Japan's Warring States period, the shoen gave way to consolidated landholdings controlled by daimyo (domain lords). See also samurai.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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