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Gōzoku (豪族, lit. "prominent clan") is a Japanese term used to refer to powerful and wealthy families. In historical context, it usually refers to local samurai clans with significant local land holdings. Some were almost locally independent, and held strong ties to important commoners such as wealthy merchants. Unlike the vassal samurai of the greater lords, gozōku may or may not have held court rank or served directly under a liege. They tended to be financially secure and, if under a liege, less dependent upon him for income.