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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Yoshinaka replied by sending his son Yoshitaka


Yoshihira was a giant in stature. He shares with Tametomo the fame of having exhibited the greatest prowess in the Hogen and Heiji struggles. It was he who offered to attack Kyoto from Kumano a measure which, in all probability, would have reversed the result of the Heiji war.


Kiyomori expired in March, 1181, as already related. His last behest, that the head of Yoritomo should be laid on his grave, nerved his successors to fresh efforts. But the stars in their courses seemed to be fighting against the Taira. Kiyomori's son, Munemori, upon whom devolved the direction of the great clan's affairs, was wholly incompetent for such a trust. One gleam of sunshine, however, illumined the fortunes of the Heike. Two months after Kiyomori's death, a Taira army under Shigehira attacked Yukiiye, Yoritomo's uncle, who had pushed westward as far as Owari. This Yukiiye never showed any qualities of generalship. He was repeatedly defeated, the only redeeming feature of his campaigns being that he himself always escaped destruction. On this occasion he was driven out of Owari and forced to retire within the confines of the Kwanto.

But now the home provinces and the west fell into the horrors of famine and pestilence, as described above; and in such circumstances to place armies in the field and to maintain them there became impossible. The Taira had to desist from

all warlike enterprises until the summer of 1182, when a great effort was made to crush the rapidly growing power of the Minamoto. Commissions of provincial governor were sent to Jo no Nagashige, a puissant Taira magnate of Echigo; to Taira no Chikafusa, of Etchu, and to Fujiwara Hidehira, of Mutsu, who were all ordered to attack Yoritomo and Yoshinaka. Hidehira made no response, but Nagashige set in motion against Yoshinaka a strong force, swelled by a contingent from Kyoto under Michimori. The results were signal defeat for the Taira and the carrying of the white flag by Yoshinaka into Echigo, Etchu, Noto, and Kaga.


Meanwhile discord had declared itself between Yoritomo and Yoshinaka. It has been shown that the records of the two families afforded no basis of mutual confidence, and it has also been shown that the Takeda clan of Kai province were among the earliest adherents of the Minamoto cause. In view of Yoshinaka's brilliant successes, Takeda Nobumitsu proposed a marriage between his daughter and Yoshinaka's son, Yoshitaka. This union was declined by Yoshinaka, whereupon Nobumitsu suggested to Yoritomo that Yoshinaka's real purpose was to ally his house with the Taira by marriage. Whether Nobumitsu believed this, or whether his idea had its origin in pique, history does not indicate. But there can be no hesitation in concluding that a rupture between the two Minamoto chiefs was presaged by Yoritomo's entourage, who judged that two Richmonds could not remain permanently in the field.

Things gradually shaped themselves in accordance with that forecast. The malcontents in Yoritomo's camp or his discomfited opponents began to transfer their allegiance to Yoshinaka; a tendency which culminated when Yoritomo's uncle, Yukiiye, taking umbrage because a provincial governorship was not given to him, rode off at the head of a thousand cavalry to join Yoshinaka. The reception given by Yoshinaka to these deserters was in itself sufficient to suggest doubts of his motives. Early in the year 1183, Yoritomo sent a force into Shinano with orders to exterminate Yoshinaka. But the latter declined the combat. Quoting a popular saying that the worst enemies of the Minamoto were their own dissensions, he directed his troops to withdraw into Echigo, leaving to Yoritomo a free hand in Shinano. When this was reported to Yoritomo, he recalled his troops from Shinano, and asked Yoshinaka to send a hostage. Yoshinaka replied by sending his son Yoshitaka, the same youth to whom Takeda Nobumitsu had proposed to marry his daughter. He was now wedded to Yoritomo's daughter, and the two Minamoto chiefs seemed to have been effectually reconciled.

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