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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Represent Muretsu as a monster of cruelty

predecessor, Ninken. According

to the Chronicles, his reign opened with a rebellion by the great Heguri family, whose representative, Matori, attempted to usurp the Imperial dignity while his son, Shibi, defiantly wooed and won for himself the object of the Emperor's affections. Matori had been Yuryaku's minister, and his power as well as his family influence were very great, but the military nobles adhered to the sovereign's cause and the Heguri were annihilated. In the Records this event is attributed to the reign of Seinei in a much abbreviated form, but the account given in the Chronicles commands the greater credence. The Chronicles, however, represent Muretsu as a monster of cruelty, the Nero of Japanese history, who plucked out men's nails and made them dig up yams with their mutilated fingers; who pulled out people's hair; who made them ascend trees which were then cut down, and who perpetrated other hideous excesses. Here again the Records, as well as other ancient authorities are absolutely silent, and the story in the Chronicles has attracted keen analyses by modern historiographers. Their almost unanimous conclusion is that the annals of King Multa of Kudara have been confused with those of the Emperor Muretsu. This Korean sovereign, contemporary with Muretsu, committed all kinds of atrocities and was finally deposed by his people. There are evidences that the compilers of the Chronicles drew largely on the pages of Korean writers, and it is not difficult to imagine accidental intermixing such as
that suggested by the critics in this case.


The death of the Emperor Muretsu left the throne without any successor in the direct line of descent, and for the first time since the foundation of the Empire, it became necessary for the great officials to make a selection among the scions of the remote Imperial families. Their choice fell primarily on the representative of the fifth generation of the Emperor Chuai's descendants. But as their method of announcing their decision was to despatch a strong force of armed troops to the provincial residence of the chosen man, he naturally misinterpreted the demonstration and sought safety in flight. Then the o-omi and the o-muraji turned to Prince Odo, fifth in descent from the Emperor Ojin on his father's side and eighth in descent from the Emperor Suinin on his mother's. Arako, head of the horse-keepers, had secretly informed the prince of the ministers' intentions, and thus the sudden apparition of a military force inspired no alarm in Odo's bosom. He did, indeed, show seemly hesitation, but finally he accepted the insignia and ascended the throne, confirming all the high dignitaries of State in their previous offices. From the point of view of domestic affairs his reign was uneventful, but the empire's relations with Korea continued to be much disturbed, as will be presently explained.


The Emperor Keitai had a large family, but only one son was by the Empress, and as he was too young to ascend the throne immediately after his father's death, he was preceded by his two brothers, Ankan and Senkwa, sons of the senior concubine. This complication seems to have caused some difficulty, for whereas Keitai died in 531, Ankan's reign did not commence until 534. The most noteworthy feature of his era was the establishment of State granaries in great numbers, a proof that the Imperial power found large extension throughout the provinces. In connexion with this, the o-muraji, Kanamura, is quoted as having laid down, by command of the Emperor, the following important doctrine, "Of the entire surface of the soil, there is no part which is not a royal grant in fee; under the wide heavens there is no place which is not royal territory." The annals show, also, that the custom of accepting tracts of land or other property in expiation of offences was obtaining increased vogue.

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