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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The second was the death of Shigemori


A

final rupture between the ex-Emperor and the Taira leader became daily imminent. Two events contributed to precipitate it. One was that in the year following the Shishi-ga-tani conspiracy, Kiyomori's daughter, Toku, bore to Takakura a prince--the future Emperor Antoku (eighty-first sovereign). The Taira chief thus found himself grandfather of an heir to the throne, a fact which did not tend to abate his arrogance. The second was the death of Shigemori, which took place in 1179.

Shigemori's record shows him to have been at once a statesman and a general. He never hesitated to check his father's extravagances, and it has to be recorded in Kiyomori's favour that, however, intolerant of advice or opposition he habitually showed himself, his eldest son's remonstrances were seldom ignored. Yet, though many untoward issues were thus averted, there was no sign that growing responsibility brought to Kiyomori any access of circumspection. From first to last he remained the same short-sighted, passion-driven, impetuous despot and finally the evil possibilities of the situation weighed so heavily on Shigemori's nerves that he publicly repaired to a temple to pray for release from life. As though in answer to his prayer he was attacked by a disease which carried him off at the age of forty-two. There is a tradition that he installed forty-eight images of Buddha in his mansion, and for their services employed many beautiful women, so that sensual excesses

contributed to the semi-hysterical condition into which he eventually fell. That is not impossible, but certainly a sense of impotence to save his father and his family from the calamities he clearly saw approaching was the proximate cause of his breakdown.

ENGRAVING: KIYOMIZU-DEKA TEMPLE, AT KYOTO

Results soon became apparent. The ex-Emperor, who had truly estimated Shigemori's value as a pillar of Taira power, judged that an opportunity for revolt had now arrived, and the Taira chief, deprived of his son's restraining influence, became less competent than ever to manage the great machine which fortune had entrusted to his direction. The first challenge came from the ex-Emperor's side. It has been related above that one of Kiyomori's politic acts after the Heiji insurrection was to give his daughter to the regent; that, on the latter's death, his child, Motomichi, by a Fujiwara, was entrusted to the care of the Taira lady; that a large part of the Fujiwara estates were diverted from the regent and settled upon Motomichi, and that the latter was taken into a Taira mansion. The regent who suffered by this arbitrary procedure was Fujiwara Motofusa, the same noble whom, a few years later, Kiyomori caused to be dragged from his car and docked of his queue because Motofusa had insisted on due observance of etiquette by Kiyomori's grandson. Naturally, Motofusa was ready to join hands with Go-Shirakawa in any anti-Taira procedure.

Therefore, in 1179, on the death of Kiyomori's daughter, to whose care Motomichi had been entrusted in his childhood, the ex-Emperor, at the instance of Motofusa, appropriated all her manors and those of Motomichi. Moreover, on the death of Shigemori shortly afterwards, the same course was pursued with his landed property, and further, Motomichi, though lawful head of the Fujiwara family, son-in-law of Kiyomori, and of full age, had been refused the post of chunagon, the claim of a twelve year-old son of Motofusa being preferred.* The significance of these doings was unmistakable. Kiyomori saw that the gauntlet had been thrown in his face. Hastening from his villa of Fukuhara, in Settsu, at the head of a large force of troops, he placed the ex-Emperor in strict confinement in the Toba palace, segregating him completely from the official world and depriving him of all administrative functions; he banished the kwampaku, Motofusa, and the chancellor, Fujiwara Moronaga; he degraded and deprived of their posts thirty-nine high officials who had formed the entourage of Go-Shirakawa; he raised Motomichi to the office of kwampaku, and he conferred on his son, Munemori, the function of guarding Kyoto, strong bodies of soldiers being posted in the two Taira mansions of Rokuhara on the north and south of the capital.


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