free ebooks

A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The Minamoto chief returned quietly to Kamakura



During the early years of his signal triumphs Yoritomo was invited to Kyoto on several occasions. Various considerations deterred him. He wished, in the first place, to dispel the popular illusion that the Imperial capital was the centre of all dignity and power. People must be taught to recognize that, although Kyoto might be the ultimate source of authority, Kamakura was its place of practical exercise. He wished, in the second place, not to absent himself from Kamakura until he could be absolutely assured that his absence would not afford an opportunity to his enemies; which sense of security was not fully reached until the death of Yoshitsune and Fujiwara no Yasuhira, and the complete subjugation of the great northern fief of Oshti in the year 1189. Finally, he wished to appear in Kyoto, not merely as the representative of military power, but also as a benefactor who had rebuilt the fanes and restored the palaces.

On the 2nd of November, in the year 1190, he set out from Kamakura and reached Kyoto on December 5th. His armies had shown that, for the purpose of a campaign, the distance would be traversed in little more than half of that time. But Yoritomo's journey was a kind of Imperial progress. Attended by a retinue designed to surprise even the citizens of the Imperial metropolis, he travelled at a leisurely pace and made a pause of some duration in Owari to worship at his father's tomb. The

Court received him with all consideration. He had already been honoured with the first grade of the second rank, so that he enjoyed the right of access to the Presence, and the cloistered Emperor held with him long conversations, sometimes lasting a whole day. But Yoritomo did not achieve his purpose. It is true that he received the appointments of gon-dainagon and general of the Right division of the guards. These posts, however, were more objectionable on account of their limitations than acceptable as marks of honour. Their bestowal was a mere formality, and Yoritomo resigned them in a few days, preferring to be nominated so-tsuihoshi.

What he really desired, however, was the office of sei-i tai-shogun (barbarian-subduing great general). This high title had been conferred more than once previously, but only for the purpose of some finite and clearly indicated purpose, on the attainment of which the office had to be surrendered. The Kamakura chief's plan was to remove these limitations, and to make the appointment not only for life but also general in the scope of its functions and hereditary in his own family, reserving to the sovereign the formal right of investiture alone. Go-Shirakawa, however, appreciated the far-reaching effects of such an arrangement and refused to sanction it. Thus, Yoritomo had to content himself with the post of lord high constable of the empire (so-tsuihoshi), an office of immense importance, but differing radically from that of sei-i tai-shogun in that, whereas the latter had competence to adopt every measure he pleased without reference to any superior authority, the former was required to consult the Imperial Court before taking any step of a serious nature. The Minamoto chief returned quietly to Kamakura, but he left many powerful friends to promote his interests in Kyoto, and when Go-Shirakawa died, in 1192, his grandson and successor, Go-Toba, a boy of thirteen, had not occupied the throne more than three months before the commission of sei-i tai-shogun was conveyed to Yoritomo by special envoys. Thereafter it became the unwritten law of the empire that the holder of this high post must be either the head of the principal Minamoto family or an Imperial prince.

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us