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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Some historians have contended that Masakado and Sumitomo


mustered only two hundred ships whereas Sumitomo had fifteen hundred. The issue might have been foretold had not the pirate chief's lieutenant gone over to the Imperial forces. Sumitomo, after an obstinate resistance and after one signal success, was finally routed and killed. Some historians* have contended that Masakado and Sumitomo, when they were together in Kyoto, conspired a simultaneous revolt in the east and the south; but such a conclusion is inconsistent with the established fact that Masakado's treason was not premeditated.

*Notably the authors of the Okagami and the Nihon Gwaishi.

That the two events synchronized is attributable wholly to the conditions of the time. We have seen what was the state of affairs in Kwanto, and that of Kyushu and Shikoku is clearly set forth in a memorial presented (946) by Ono Yoshifuru on his return from the Sumitomo campaign. In that document he says: "My information is that those who pursue irregular courses are not necessarily sons of provincial governors alone. Many others make lawless use of power and authority; form confederacies; engage daily in military exercises; collect and maintain men and horses under pretext of hunting game; menace the district governors; plunder the common people; violate their wives and daughters, and steal their beasts of burden and employ them for their own purposes, thus interrupting agricultural operations. Yesterday, they were outcasts,

with barely sufficient clothes to cover their nakedness; to-day, they ride on horseback and don rich raiment. Meanwhile the country falls into a state of decay, and the homesteads are desolate. My appeal is that, with the exception of provincial governors' envoys, any who enter a province at the head of parties carrying bows and arrows, intimidate the inhabitants, and rob them of their property, shall be recognized as common bandits and thrown into prison on apprehension."

In a word, the aristocratic officialdom in Kyoto, headed by the Fujiwara, though holding all the high administrative posts, wielded no real power outside the capital, nor were they competent to preserve order even within its precincts, for the palace itself was not secure against incendiarism and depredation. When the heads of the Minamoto and the Taira families were appointed provincial governors in the Kwanto, they trained their servants in the use of arms, calling them iye-no-ko (house-boys) or rodo (retainers), and other local magnates purchased freedom from molestation by doing homage and obeying their behests. Taira Masakado, Minamoto Tsunemoto, Fujiwara Hidesato, and Taira Sadamori, who figure in the above narrative, were all alike provincial chiefs, possessing private estates and keeping armed retinues which they used for protection or for plunder. The Imperial Court, when confronted with any crisis, was constrained to borrow the aid of these magnates, and thus there came into existence the buke, or military houses, as distinguished from the kuge, or Court houses.






We now arrive at a period of Japanese history in which the relations of the Fujiwara family to the Throne are so complicated as greatly to perplex even the most careful reader. But as it is not possible to construct a genealogical table of a really helpful character, the facts will be set down here in their simplest form.

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