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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Tametomo was then only thirteen


Between

this Tadamichi and his younger brother, Yorinaga, who held the post of sa-daijin, there existed acute rivalry. The kwampaku had the knack of composing a deft couplet and tracing a graceful ideograph. The sa-daijin, a profound scholar and an able economist, ridiculed penmanship and poetry as mere ornament. Their father's sympathies were wholly with Yorinaga, and he ultimately went so far as to depose Tadamichi from his hereditary position as o-uji of the Fujiwara. Thus, the enmity between Tadamichi and Yorinaga needed only an opportunity to burst into flame, and that opportunity was soon furnished.

The Emperor Konoe died (1155) at the early age of seventeen, and the cloistered sovereign, Sutoku, sought to secure the throne for his son Shigehito, whom Toba's suspicions had disqualified. But Bifuku-mon-in, believing, or pretending to believe, that the premature death of her son had been caused by Sutoku's incantations, persuaded the cloistered Emperor, Toba, in that sense, and having secured the co-operation of the kwampaku, Tadamichi, she set upon the throne Toba's fourth son, under the name of Go-Shirakawa (1156-1158), the latter's son, Morihito, being nominated Crown Prince, to the complete exclusion of Sutoku's offspring. So long as Toba lived the arrangement remained undisturbed, but on his death in the following year (1156), Sutoku, supported by the sa-daijin, Yorinaga, planned to ascend the throne again, and there ensued a desperate struggle.

Stated thus briefly, the complication suggests merely a quarrel for the succession, but, regarded more closely, it is seen to derive rancour chiefly from the jealousies of the Fujiwara brothers, Yorinaga and Tadamichi, and importance from the association of the Minamoto and the Taira families. For when Sutoku appealed to arms against the Go-Shirakawa faction, he was incited by Fujiwara Yorinaga and his father Tadazane, and supported by Taira Tadamasa as well as by jthe two Minamoto, Tameyoshi and Tametomo; while Go-Shirakawa's cause was espoused by Fujiwara Tadamichi, by Taira no Kiyomori, and by Minamoto Yoshitomo.

Among this group of notables the most memorable in a historical sense are Minamoto Tametomo and Taira Kiyomori. Of the latter there will presently be occasion to speak again. The former was one of those born warriors illustrated by Yamato-dake, Saka-no-ye no Tamura-maro, and Minamoto no Yoshiiye. Eighth son of Minamoto Tameyoshi, he showed himself so masterful, physically and morally, that his father deemed it wise to provide a distant field for the exercise of his energies and to that end sent him to Bungo in the island of Kyushu. Tametomo was then only thirteen. In two years he had established his sway over nearly the whole island, and the ceaseless excursions and alarms caused by his doings having attracted the attention of the Court, orders for his chastisement were issued to the Dazai-fu, in Chikuzen--futile orders illustrating only Kyoto's ignorance. Tameyoshi, his father, was then removed from office as a punishment for his son's contumacy, and thereupon Tametomo, esteeming filial piety as one of the bushi's first obligations, hastened to the capital, taking with him only twenty-five of his principal retainers. His age was then seventeen; his height seven feet; his muscular development enormous, and he could draw a bow eight feet nine inches in length. His intention was to purchase his father's pardon by his own surrender, but on reaching Kyoto he found the Hogen tumult just breaking out, and, of course, he joined his father's party.


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