Japan History – The Taira and the Minamoto

By | January 14, 2022

Already from the century. IX and X the two families of Taira (v.) And Minamoto (v.) Had risen in great prominence and their members had distinguished themselves in numerous war operations. Fate had to pit them against each other. In 1087 the emperor Shirakawa (1073-87), tired of the arrogance of the Fujiwara, retired to a Buddhist convent, continuing from there to direct the public affairs; so did, shortly afterwards, his son, Emperor Horikawa (1087-1107), and his nephew, Emperor Toba (1108-1123), having abdicated one in favor of the other: all three had been assisted by Taira Tadamori (1096-1153), their favorite. Close to the official court, a court of), who directed the policy of the titular sovereign, his son, in the shadows. In 1123, Toba abdicated in favor of his five-year-old son, Emperor Sutoku (1124-41), but in 1142 he forced him to give the throne to another son of his (Emperor Konoe), born to him of Fujiwara Toku-ko, his favorite bride; Konoe, crowned at two, died at seventeen. Toba then wanted to raise a third of his son to the throne, Emperor Go Shirakawa (1156-58), but Sutoku tried to regain power. Two parties were then formed: that of Sutoku, supported by the Minamoto, and that of Go Shirakawa, supported by the Taira and Minamoto Yoshitomo. The civil war of the Hōgen era (1156), which followed, marked the victory of the latter, with the result of affirming the authority of Taira Kiyomori (1118-81), adopted son of Tadamori. But Minamoto Yoshitomo, dissatisfied with the reward received for his services, much less than that of Kiyomori, whose power he was envious of, plotted the ruin of that one with Fujiwara Nobuyori (1133-1159). The new civil war of the Heiji era (1159), which followed, marked his death. Kiyomori, however, wanted to destroy Yoshitomo’s lineage, and having sought in vain for his concubine, Tokiwa Gozen, with whom Yoshitomo had had three children, he imprisoned his mother. Knowing this, Tokiwa, moved by filial love, gave herself up to Kiyomori who, struck by her beauty and her deed, made her his concubine, forced her children to become bonzes and released their mother. Free from enemies, the victor’s power reaches its apogee: his relatives hold the highest offices and govern the best provinces; gl ‘ emperors, placed on the throne at an early age and deposed shortly after, are at his mercy and he tyrannizes absolute, between luxury and pleasure. But his arrogance, the cruelty shown towards his enemies, which he kills or scatters, attract hatred and provoke conspiracies. His worst enemies are the Minamoto. A conspiracy led by Minamoto Yorimasa is revealed to him and he sends against the conspirators an army commanded by his son Tomomori, who, on the banks of the Uji river, confronts them and defeats them by killing Nakatsuna, son of Yorimasa, who took refuge in the Byōdō temple -In, he kills himself (1189). But other Minamotos are plotting in the shadows, waiting for the right moment. The most avid are the two sons of Yoshitomo: Yoritomo, whom Kiyomori had entrusted thirteen, after the victory over his father, in the custody of two of his faithful, Itō Sukechika and Hōjō Tokimasa, the latter of whom he will later marry the daughter Masako; and Yoshitsune, one of Japan’s most popular heroes.

According to Youremailverifier, the plots of these embittered the last years of Kiyomori, who died in 1181 recommending to his relatives to carry the head of Yoritomo on his grave. His death did nothing but hasten the triumph of the two brothers and three years later the battles of Ichino-tani, Yashima and Dan-no-ura marked the defeat of the Taira. After the victory, Yoritomo, jealous of his brother, had him killed and in 1191 he received the title of seii tai – sh ō gun (generalissimo sent against the barbarians) or, more briefly, sh ō gun (v.), the highest military office. From this moment a new era begins for Japan in which the shōgun will be the de facto ruler, the emperor the de jure ruler of the country, and this dualistic system will last until 1868, when the effective and the legal power will reunite. in the person of the emperor. Cruel to enemies, patricide and twice fratricide, Yoritomo was, however, an excellent administrator and organizer. Instead of dominating the court, like the Fujiwara and Taira, he preferred to make his own in Kamakura, establishing a new military government (bakufu, “the government of the tent”), with a council, a treasure, an administration of justice of one’s own. He also had military officials (shugo) appointed in each province, close to the civil officials (jit ō), in charge of collecting taxes and administering justice, at the head of troops, to whom the maintenance of order was devolved, both being responsible, not to the emperor, but to the shōgun. Many other and important reforms he brought to the administration, taking care each time to secure imperial consent, and, unlike Kiyomori, the Buddhist clergy reconciled, but forbade them to carry arms and host armed people.

Japan History - The Taira and the Minamoto