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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

He abdicated in favour of Ichijo


was now impossible, however. He abdicated in favour of Ichijo, a child of seven, and Kaneiye became regent and chancellor. He emulated the magnificence of his deceased brother and rival, Kanemichi, and his residence at Higashi-Sanjo in Kyoto was built after the model of the "hall of freshness" in the palace. He had five sons, the most remarkable of whom were Michitaka, Michikane, and Michinaga. It will be presently seen that in the hands of the last the power of the Fujiwara reached its zenith. On the death of Kaneiye the office of kwampaku fell to his eldest son, Michitaka, and, in 993, the latter being seriously ill, his son, Korechika, looked to be his successor. But the honour fell to Michitaka's brother, Michikane. Seven days after his nomination, Michikane died, and, as a matter of course, men said that he had been done to death by the incantations of his ambitious nephew. Again, however, the latter was disappointed. Kaneiye's third son, Michinaga, succeeded to the regency.

Almost immediately, the new regent seems to have determined that his daughter should be Empress. But the daughter of his elder brother, the late Michitaka, already held that position. This, however, constituted no sort of obstacle in the eyes of the omnipotent Michinaga. He induced--"required" would probably be a more accurate expression--the Empress to abandon the world, shave her head, and remove to a secluded palace, (the Kokideri); where-after he caused his own daughter

to become the Imperial consort under the title of chugu,* her residence being fixed in the Fujitsubo, which was the recognized palace of the Empress.

*A lady on introduction to the palace received the title of jokwan. If the daughter of a minister of State, she was called nyogo. Chugu was a still higher title devised specially for Michinaga's purpose, and naturally it became a precedent.

It is not to be imagined that with such a despotic regent, the Emperor himself exercised any real authority. The annals show that Ichijo was of benevolent disposition; that he sympathized with his people; that he excelled in prose composition and possessed much skill in music. Further, during his reign of twenty-four years many able men graced the era. But neither their capacity nor his own found opportunity for exercise in the presence of Michinaga's proteges, and, while profoundly disliking the Fujiwara autocrat, Ichijo was constrained to suffer him.



Prince Okisada, younger brother of the Emperor Kwazan, ascended the throne at the age of thirty-six, on the abdication of Ichijo, and is known in history as Sanjo. Before his accession he had married the daughter of Fujiwara Naritoki, to whom he was much attached, but with the crown he had to accept the second daughter of Michinaga as chugu, his former consort becoming Empress. His Majesty had to acquiesce in another arbitrary arrangement also. It has been shown above that Michinaga's eldest daughter had been given the title of chugu in the palace of Ichijo, to whom she bore two sons, Atsunari and Atsunaga. Neither of these had any right to be nominated Crown Prince in preference to Sanjo's offspring. Michinaga, however, caused Atsunari to be appointed Prince Imperial, ignoring Sanjo's son, since his mother belonged to an inferior branch of the Fujiwara. Further, it did not suit the regent's convenience that a ruler of mature age should occupy the throne. An eye disease from which Sanjo suffered became the pretext for pressing him to abdicate, and, in 1017, Atsunari, then in his ninth year, took the sceptre as Emperor Go-Ichijo, or Ichijo II. Michinaga continued to act as regent, holding, at the same time, the office of minister of the Left, but he subsequently handed over the regency to his son, Yorimichi, becoming himself chancellor.

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