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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Yet Yoshitsune remained at Kyoto


YOSHITSUNE'S

FATE

Yoshitsune's signal victories were at Ichi-no-tani and at Yashima. The fight at Dan-no-ura could not have made him famous, for its issue was determined by defection in the enemy's ranks, not by any strategical device or opportune coup on the side of the victors. Yet Japan accords to Yoshitsune the first place among her great captains. Undoubtedly this estimate is influenced by sympathy. Pursued by the relentless anger of his own brother, whose cause he had so splendidly championed, he was forced to fly for refuge to the north, and was ultimately done to death. This most cruel return for glorious deeds has invested his memory with a mist of tears tending to obscure the true outlines of events, so that while Yoritomo is execrated as an inhuman, selfish tyrant, Yoshitsune is worshipped as a faultless hero. Yet, when examined closely, the situation undergoes some modifications. Yoritomo's keen insight discerned in his half-brother's attitude something more than mere rivalry. He discovered the possible establishment of special relations between the Imperial Court and a section of the Minamoto.

Yoshitsune's failure to repair to Kamakura after the battle of Ichi-no-tani inspired Yoritomo's first doubts. Japanese annals offer no explanation of Yoshitsune's procedure on that occasion. It would have been in the reasonable sequence of events that the military genius which planned and carried out the great coup at

Ichi-no-tani should have been available at the subsequent council of strategists in Kamakura, and it would have been natural that the younger brother should have repaired, as did his elder brother, Noriyori, to the headquarters of the clan's chief. Yet Yoshitsune remained at Kyoto, and that by so doing he should have suggested some suspicions to Yoritomo was unavoidable. The secret of the Court nobles' ability to exclude the military magnates from any share in State administration was no secret in Yoritomo's eyes. He saw clearly that this differentiation had been effected by playing off one military party against the other, or by dividing the same party against itself; and he saw clearly that opportunities for such measures had been furnished by subjecting the military leaders to constant contact with the Court nobility.

Therefore, he determined to keep two aims always in view. One was to establish a military and executive capital entirely apart from, and independent of, the Imperial and administrative metropolis; the other, to preserve the unity of the Minamoto clan in all circumstances. Both of these aims seemed to be threatened with failure when Yoshitsune preferred the Court in Kyoto to the camp in Kamakura; still more so when he accepted from Go-Shirakawa rank and office for which Yoritomo had not recommended him, and yet further when he obtained from the ex-Emperor a commission to lead the Minamoto armies westward without any reference to, and in despite of, the obvious intention of the Minamoto chief at Kamakura.

All these acts could scarcely fail to be interpreted by Yoritomo as preluding the very results which he particularly desired to avert, namely, a house of Minamoto divided against itself and the re-establishment of Court influence over a strong military party in Kyoto. His apprehensions received confirmation from reports furnished by Kajiwara Kagetoki. Yoritomo trusted this man implicitly. Never forgetting that Kajiwara had saved his life in the affair of the hollow tree, he appointed him to the post of military governor and to the command of the army destined to drive the Taira from Shikoku after the battle of Ichi-no-tani. In that command Kajiwara had been superseded by Yoshitsune, and had moreover been brought into ridicule in connexion not only with the shipbuilding incident but also, and in a far more flagrant manner, with the great fight at Yashima. He seems from the first to have entertained doubts of Yoshitsune's loyalty to Yoritomo, and his own bitter experiences may well have helped to convert those doubts into certainties. He warned Kamakura in very strong terms against the brilliant young general who was then the idol of Kyoto, and thus, when Yoshitsune, in June, 1185, repaired to Kamakura to hand over the prisoners taken in the battle of Dan-no-ura and to pay his respects to Yoritomo, he was met at Koshigoe, a village in the vicinity, by Hojo Tokimasa, who conveyed to him Yoritomo's veto against his entry to Kamakura. A letter addressed by Yoshitsune to his brother on that occasion ran, in part, as follows:


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