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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Fujiwara Yorimichi was then regent kwampaku


71st " " Go-Sanjo 1069-1072

72nd " " Shirakawa 1073-1086

73rd " " Horikawa 1087-1107

74th " " Toba 1108-1123

75th " " Sutoku 1124-1141

76th " " Konoe 1142-1155

77th " " Go-Shirakawa 1156-1158

DECADENCE OF FUJIWARA AUTOCRACY

During two centuries the administrative power remained in the hands of the Fujiwara. They lost it by their own timidity rather than through the machinations of their enemies. When the Emperor Go-Shujaku was mortally ill, he appointed his eldest son, Go-Reizei, to be his successor, and signified his desire that the latter's half-brother, Takahito, should be nominated Crown Prince. Fujiwara Yorimichi was then regent (kwampaku). To him, also, the dying sovereign made known his wishes. Now Takahito had not been born of a Fujiwara mother. The regent, therefore, while complying at once in Go-Reizei's case, said that the matter of the Crown Prince might be deferred, his purpose being to wait until a Fujiwara lady should bear a son to Go-Reizei.

justify;">In thus acting, Yorimichi obeyed the policy from which his family had never swerved through many generations, and which had now become an unwritten law of the State. But his brother, Yoshinobu, read the signs of the times in a sinister light. He argued that the real power had passed to the military magnates, and that by attempting to stem the current the Fujiwara might be swept away altogether. He therefore repaired to the palace, and simulating ignorance of what had passed between the late sovereign and the kwampaku, inquired whether it was intended that Prince Takahito should enter a monastery. Go-Reizei replied emphatically in the negative and related the facts, whereupon Yoshinobu declared that the prince should be nominated forthwith. It was done, and thus for the first time in a long series of years a successor to the throne was proclaimed who had not the qualification of a Fujiwara mother.

There remained to the kwampaku only one way of expressing his dissent. During many years it had been customary that the Prince Imperial, on his nomination, should receive from the Fujiwara regent a famous sword called Tsubo-kiri (Jar-cutter). Yorimichi declined to make the presentation in the case of Prince Takahito on the ground that he was not of Fujiwara lineage. The prince--afterwards Go-Sanjo--had the courage to deride this omission. "Of what service is the sword to me?" he said. "I have no need of it."

Such an attitude was very significant of the changing times. During more than twenty years of probation as Crown Prince, this sovereign, Go-Sanjo, had ample opportunity of observing the arbitrary conduct of the Fujiwara, and when he held the sceptre he neglected no means of asserting the authority of the Crown, one conspicuous step being to take a daughter of Go-Ichijo into the palace as chugu, a position created for a Fujiwara and never previously occupied by any save a Fujiwara.


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