Modern and ancient history holds within it perhaps thousands of warriors. From the Spartans of Greece to the Mongolian Barbarians. Each had a vibrant, and complex culture that encompassed its society. But like all history, they gave way to new cultures and warriors. The last of these to finally succumb to the modern world, are perhaps the greatest of them all. The Samurai, or as they are known in their home country of Japan, Bushi, were unlike any warrior culture before or after. They were deeply honor bound and loyal only to master and sword. Some were disciplined and fought for their lords, others mercenaries who swore their skills to the highest bidder. They were, and still are, polarizing figures within world history. But none can ever claim they were nothing short of masters of combat, and unmatched swordsman. Their entire culture was built around the code of battle, honor and worthiness.
In Halo, a similar culture can be observed within the Sangheili. A species driven by glory and honor, both admiring and swiftly cutting down their enemies. Adorned in armor and wielding the futuristic energy sword, they are brilliant tacticians who follow their leaders into battle without fear nor hesitation.
The parallels between the Bushi and the Sangheili are numerous, and deserve closer inspection. So let us take a look at the last, true, great warrior culture of our own history. And, in doing so, learn more about the species who are also, the last true warrior culture of the Halo franchise.
During the Kamakura Shogonate (1185-1333 CE) Japan was going through a turbulent time in their history. Mongolian raids were weakening the country. This was exacerbated by Japan not being unified, but instead broken up into several different regions, each ruled over by a lord. These lords constantly sent out their greatest warriors to the other regions in order to gain power and land. These attacks were mostly unsuccessful, and resulted in the different regions being severely weakened due to the constant combat. However, the largest of these regions was ruled over by the Kamakura Shogunate, which was lead by a wealthy lord named Minamoto no Yoritomo. Yoritomo wanted to unify all of Japan under his rule, and thus declared a call to arms. This call to war would see the emergence and creation of what are possibly the finest and most skilled warriors to have ever walked the Earth, The Samurai, or Bushi. 
Yoritomo easily conquered the other regions over time, finally realizing his dream of a unified Japan under a single bakufu (Shogonate) and lord. The conquest of so many regions made several lords of the bakufu very wealthy, and they quickly created their own family castes within Japan. These castes would give rise to wealthy, and privileged soldiers who began to fill the ranks of the bukafu's army. These elite soldiers would receive the best training, armor, weapons and honors. Peasants bowed in their presence, and the various wealthy lords of the new shogunate lauded them as Japan's finest. Yoritomo thus established the supremacy of the warrior Samurai caste and set in motion the events that would lead (once again) to a fractured and feudal Japan. 
You see, the lords who had become wealthy after the conquest sought their own power, and regional lands. So, after several decades of peace, the various lords of their respective regions began extending their power outwards. This made the climate of Japan hostile once more, with the various regions sending out their new elite warrior caste in order to exert their influence in the other Providences.
So began the feudal era of Japan, which lasted hundreds of years and saw the rise of the Samurai.
The beginning's of the Sangheili in Halo share a striking resemblance to Japan's first bakufu. Ancient Sangheili were also split up into several clans, or regions and ruled over by something similar to lords.
"Several hundred years prior to the formation of the Covenant, the Sangheili had developed slipspace technology and created dozens of independent colonies, though their homeworld of Sanghelios remaining central to governance and culture. The planet of Creck, discovered before the Sangheili's contact with the San'Shyuum was the seventy-sixth of designated worlds explored by Sangheili. At some point, an unknown number of Sangheili clans waged war upon each other for numerous years on Sanghelios. These engagements became known as the Clan Battles of Sanghelios." 
So we can see that ancient Sangheili went through a feudal phase of their own, and fighting several battle across the planet for control of territory. Although the reasons are unknown as to why these battle were fought, we can assume that it was similar to Japan's lord's longing for more power, wealth and land.
Interestingly, we see that the Sangheili feudal system of lord, land and ownership is very similar to what was seen during the Kamakura Shogunate.
The Sangheili have no unified government; they are splintered into numerous feudal, meritocratic states.A given state is governed by a single clan residence and assembly house known as a keep, headed by a kaidon selected by a council of elders. There are usually a number of "client keeps" belonging to different clans under the leading keep's rule, though a state's elders will assume the kaidon's clan name as a title signifying their position, regardless of the name of their own family keep. Sanghelios was once governed by the Council of City States during the early history of the Covenant. 
So in the case of Sangheili society, Kaidon, effectively replaces the word bukafu. It is interesting to note that while these Kaidon's were selected by a group of elder Sangheili, lords and Shoguns of Japan were not. The difference is that lords and Shoguns were not chosen, but born into their dynasties and inherited their family's power/wealth from previous generations.In fact, most times these lords began their rule at a very young age, in some cases thirteen. Being that Sangheili choose their leaders based on age and experience, we can assume that no child Kaidon ever came into power. A small difference in governance compared to feudal Japan, but one worth noting.
We are already starting to see stark similarities in terms of their government, and how their society functioned similarly to feudal Japan. However, what of their culture? That too, runs parallel to feudal Japanese society. To understand why, we need to once again take a closer look at the Samurai, or Bushi.
The Samurai were at their core, compelled by a code known as Bushido. This code, literally translates to "way of the warrior," and functions similarly to chivalry in Europe during the medieval era. Bushido, however, is not just a code but also a set of formal laws enacted during the Tokugawa Shogunate ( 1603-1867 CE.) During that Shogunate, which lasted for more or less two hundred years, Japan was again fragmented into several different regions. Unlike the Kamakura Shogunate, these regions were not controlled by lords, but instead wealthy caste systems. These caste systems, were guarded by the elite Bushi (Samurai,) and served the caste system as both warriors and mercenaries. 
Samurai at the time of the Tokugawa Shogunate were treated as upper class individuals, and above the status of normal peasants. They were allowed to lend their skills to not only the upper caste systems, but also those who could afford to pay for their services. They could be bought to be used as instruments of honor, to kill someone who had brought disgrace to someone else, or even to resolve local disputes. However, their main role was that of an elite guardsman to the regional caste system. This led to the Samurai taking on a formal code of law, known as Bushido. These sets of moral and ethic based principles lead to the creation of one of the most, if not the most skill and disciplined warriors in history.
The code and law itself was very broad and could be interpreted on an individual basis. The exact description of Bushido are written as... "An organic growth of decades and centuries of military career. In order to become a samurai this code must be mastered."  To be Samurai, the code had to be practiced daily, and one could never waver from their own interpretation of Bushido.
Some Samurai saw the code as one of honor, and would do anything to keep their status as high as possible. This meant their code dictated those who dishonored their name, family or person would be quickly dispatched to restore their status. Entire wars across Japan were fought over this interpretation of Bushido. Other interpretations were based on doing good, and helping those in need. Indeed, it was not unusual to see Samurai helping peasants with their farms, or even looking after their children. This interpretation was unfortunately the least popular among the regions. However, those Samurai who practiced it, were viewed as legends by the people of their respective providence.
The code also stated that a Samurai must train daily, and hone their swordsmanship to perfection. Many Samurai had decades of experience in combat, through either war or pure training. If you look at other warrior cultures across history, very few can claim to have the pure skill, experience and tactics as the Samurai. They literally lived, and died, by their sword. It was not merely a weapon, but an extension of their being.
The Samurai and their caste lasted until the late 1800s, as the Shogunates in Japan kept resisting western culture and technology. The last Samurai to lay down his sword, was Saigō Takamori. This ended the era of the Shogun, and the Samurai. The last, true, great warriors of history. 
,Now let's look at the Sangheili, who have a very similar set of moral codes. Some of which, parallel very nicely with Bushido. Even Halopedia itself marks the similarity.
The Sangheili code of honor appears quite similar to Japanese Bushido, sharing concepts such as skill in combat (with an emphasis on swordsmanship), loyalty to master and family/clan, and views on death. Both systems promote death in battle as being the most honorable and proper way to die. If a warrior is critically injured, incapacitated, or captured, the only acceptable recourse is to commit ritualistic suicide, ensuring one's honor is kept intact. This is of such importance to Sangheili warriors that even if they are incapable of killing themselves, they may request the assistance of their fellow Sangheili in doing so. The Sangheili consider being captured in combat to be dishonorable. To retain his honor, a valiant Sangheili would typically commit suicide while in prison. Often when imprisoned Sangheili are freed those who have not killed themselves are executed anyway, as was the case with one of Thel 'Vadam's ancestors. However, escaping or staging an uprising is acceptable, by the same example. 
So we now can see those similarities, however there are a few more things I want to add that Halopedia does not touch on. Mainly, the Arbiter. The Arbiter is the Sangheili equivalent to a Shogun, or lord. They are the master class, the highest of the caste system and before The Covenant variant, a mark of respect. Like a Shogun, or lord of a region, the Arbiter was the leader of his people and region. It is the highest honor to be bestowed upon a Sangheili in their culture, and like their Japanese counterpart, they are masters of the sword. A common misconception is that Shoguns in Japan did not participate in combat, when in fact they were often the most skilled warriors in their regions. They had an entire army to back them, of course, but they usually gained their high position through their superior skill as warriors. Similarly, we see this with the Arbiter.
Another thing Halopedia does not touch on is the oath to the sword. Sangeheili often times marked their swords, and bestow upon them rights as an extension of their being. Similarly, the Samurai did the same. Each sword was crafted by a blacksmith and more than not were carved with characters and mythology. Some swords and blacksmiths were infamous, such as Muramasa. His swords were said to be cursed, and blood thirsty. Whomever picked up a Muramasa blade, would be sworn to draw blood before it was placed back in its scabbard. Sangheili swords are also given such mythology, as seen in the various swords seen in Halo 5's REQ cards. It is interesting, to see this cross over as it was not a very well known aspect of the Samurai. Intentional or not.
At the end of the day, the Samurai were unmatched in skill and honor. Their warrior caste was the last, and perhaps greatest to have walked this planet. Likewise, the Sangheili are the last true warriors in the Halo franchise. Soldiers who live by honor, and die by the sword.
A Halo fan since the beginning, 2001. Also a games industry consultant, writer, and educator. These are my thoughts, praise and advice concerning the past, present and future narrative of the Halo franchise.
Halo, all assets within, characters and merchandise are property of the Microsoft Corporation and is developed by its subsidiary 343 Industries.
I do not own, claim to own or retain any rights to the Halo franchise. This is a fan based work, and is strictly non-profit.
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A More Complete Look At The Halo Franchise
Written, Researched, Produced And Published By Halo-Nation member "Synth Samurai"
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