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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Bidding Shigemori to manage the matter as he thought fit


PLOTS

AGAINST THE TAIRA: KIYOMORI'S LAST YEARS

All these arbitrary acts provoked indignation among every class of the people. A conspiracy known in history as the "Shishi-ga-tani plot," from the name of the place where the conspirators met to consult, was organized in 1177, having for object a general uprising against the Taira. At the Court of the cloistered Emperor the post of gon-dainagon was filled by Fujiwara Narichika, who harboured resentment against Kiyomori's two sons, Shigemori and Munemori, inasmuch as they held positions for which he had striven in vain, the Left and Right generals of the guards. There was also a bonze, Saiko, who enjoyed the full confidence of Go-Shirakawa. In those days any cause was legitimized if its advocates could show an Imperial edict or point to the presence of the sovereign in their midst. Thus, in the Heiji insurrection, the Minamoto received their severest blow when Fujiwara Korekata contrived that, under cover of darkness, the Emperor, disguised as a maid-of-honour in the household of the Empress, should be transported in her Majesty's suite, from the Kurodo palace to the Taira mansion at Rokuhara. The Minamoto were thus transformed into rebels, and the Taira became the representatives of Imperial authority. Therefore, in the Shishi-ga-tani plot the part assigned to the priest Saiko was to induce Go-Shirakawa to take active interest in the conspiracy and to issue a mandate to the Minamoto bushi throughout the

country. No such mandate was issued, nor does it appear that the ex-Emperor attended any of the meetings in Shishi-ga-tani, but there can be no doubt that he had full cognizance of, and sympathized with, what was in progress.

The conspiracy never matured. It was betrayed by Minamoto Yukitsuna. Saiko and his two sons were beheaded; Narichika was exiled and subsequently put to death, and all the rest were banished. The great question was, how to deal with Go-Shirakawa. Kiyomori was for leading troops to arrest his Majesty, and to escort him as a prisoner to the Toba palace or the Taira mansion. None of the despot's kinsmen or adherents ventured to gainsay this purpose until Kiyomori's eldest son, Shigemori, appeared upon the scene. Shigemori had contributed much to the signal success of the Taira. Dowered with all the strategical skill and political sagacity which his father lacked, he had won victories for the family arms, and again and again had restrained the rash exercise of Kiyomori's impetuous arrogance. The Taira chief had learned to stand in awe of his son's reproaches, and when Shigemori declared that he would not survive any violence done to Go-Shirakawa, Kiyomori left the council chamber, bidding Shigemori to manage the matter as he thought fit.* Thus, Go-Shirakawa escaped all the consequences of his association with the conspirators. But Kiyomori took care that a copy of the bonze Saiko's confession, extracted under torture and fully incriminating his Majesty, should come into the Imperial hands.

*It is recorded that, on this occasion, Kiyomori, learning of his son's approach, attempted unsuccessfully to conceal under priestly robes the armour he had donned to go to the arrest of Go-Shirakawa.


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