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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

770 781 When the Empress Shotoku died


| | | / | | | Hirotsugu | | Umakai < Yoshitsugu--Tanetsugu-- / Nakanari | | (Shiki-ke) | --Kiyonari Kusuko | | | Momokawa--Otsugu | Kamatari- | | Fuhito < | | +-----------------------------------------------------+ | Maro | | (Kyo-ke) | Tokihira / | Miyako | Nakahira / | Koretada | (Consort | | Saneyori | Kanemichi | of Mommu) | Tadahira < Morosuke-- < Kaneiye ----+ | | | Morotada | Tamemitsu | | | Kinsuye | | | | Asuka | | (Empress | | of Shomu) | | | +----------------------------------------------------+
| | / Korechika | Michitaka < | Takaiye | Michikane | / Yorimichi--Morozane--Moromichi -------+ | Michinaga < | Norimichi | | | +----------------------------------------------------+ | | / Tadamichi | Tadazane < | Yorinaga

It has already been related how the four heads of these families all died in one year (736) during an epidemic of small-pox, but it may be doubted whether this apparent calamity did not ultimately prove fortunate, for had these men lived, they would have occupied commanding positions during the scandalous reign of the Empress Koken (afterwards Shotoku), and might have supported the ruinous disloyalty of Nakamaro or the impetuous patriotism of Hirotsugu. However that may be, the Fujiwara subsequently took the lead in contriving the selection and enthronement of a monarch competent to stem the evil tendency of the time, and when the story of the Fujiwara usurpations comes to be written, we should always remember that it had a long preface of loyal service, a preface extending to four generations.


When the Empress Shotoku died, no successor had been designated, and it seemed not unlikely that the country would be thrown into a state of civil war. The ablest among the princes of the blood was Shirakabe, grandson of the Emperor Tenchi. He was in his sixty-second year, had held the post of nagon, and unquestionably possessed erudition and administrative competence. Fujiwara Momokawa warmly espoused his cause, but for unrecorded reason Kibi no Makibi offered opposition. Makibi being then minister of the Right and Momokawa only a councillor, the former's views must have prevailed had not Momokawa enlisted the aid of his brother, Yoshitsugu, and of his cousin, Fujiwara Nagate, minister of the Left. By their united efforts Prince Shirakabe was proclaimed and became the Emperor Konin, his youngest son, Osabe, being appointed Prince Imperial.

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