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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Then the conspirators fixed their eyes upon Sanetomo


SANETOMO

style="text-align: justify;">After Yoriiye's retirement, in 1204, to the monastery in Izu, Masa, with the concurrence of her father, Tokimasa, decided on the accession of her second son, Sanetomo, then in his twelfth year, and application for his appointment to the office of shogun having been duly made, a favourable and speedy reply was received from Kyoto. The most important feature of the arrangement was that Hojo Tokimasa became shikken, or military regent, and thus wielded greater powers than ever--powers which he quickly proceeded to abuse for revolutionary purposes. His policy was to remove from his path, by any and every measure, all potential obstacles to the consummation of his ambition.

Among these obstacles were the lady Masa and the new shogun, Sanetomo. So long as these two lived, the Yoritomo family could count on the allegiance of the Kwanto, and so long as that allegiance remained intact, the elevation of the Hojo to the seats of supreme authority could not be compassed. Further, the substitution of Hojo for Minamoto must be gradual. Nothing abrupt would be tolerable. Now the Hojo chief's second wife, Maki, had borne to him a daughter who married Minamoto Tomomasa, governor of Musashi and lord constable of Kyoto, in which city he was serving when history first takes prominent notice of him. This lady Maki seems to have been of the same type as her step-daughter, Masa. Both possessed high courage and intellectual endowments of

an extraordinary order, and both were profoundly ambitious. Maki saw no reason why her husband, Hojo Tokimasa, should lend all his great influence to support the degenerate scions of one of his family in preference to the able and distinguished representative of the other branch. Tomomasa was both able and distinguished. By a prompt and vigorous exercise of military talent he had crushed a Heike rising in Ise, which had threatened for a time to become perilously formidable. His mother may well have believed herself justified in representing to Hojo Tokimasa that such a man would make a much better Minamoto shogun than the half-witted libertine, Yoriiye, or the untried boy, Sanetomo. It has been inferred that her pleading was in Tokimasa's ears when he sent a band of assassins to murder Yoriiye in the Shuzen-ji monastery. However that may be, there can be little doubt that the Hojo chief, in the closing episodes of his career, favoured the progeny of his second wife, Maki, in preference to that of his daughter, Masa.

Having "removed" Yoriiye, he extended the same fate to Hatakeyama Shigetada, one of the most loyal and trusted servants of Yoritomo. Shigetada would never have connived at any measure inimical to the interests of his deceased master. Therefore, he was put out of the way. Then the conspirators fixed their eyes upon Sanetomo. The twelve-year-old boy was to be invited to Minamoto Tomomasa's mansion and there destroyed. This was the lady Maki's plan. The lady Masa discovered it, and hastened to secure Sanetomo's safety by carrying him to the house of her brother, Yoshitoki. The political career of Hojo Tokimasa ended here. He had to take the tonsure, surrender his post of regent and go into exile in Izu, where he died, in 1215, after a decade of obscurity. As for Minamoto Tomomasa, he was killed in Kyoto by troops despatched for the purpose. This conflict in 1205, though Hojo Tokimasa and Minamoto Tomomasa figured so largely in it, is by some historians regarded as simply a conflict between the ladies Maki and Masa. These two women certainly occupied a prominent place on the stage of events, but the figure behind the scenes was the white-haired intriguer, Tokimasa. Had the lady Maki's son-in-law succeeded Sanetomo, the former would have been the next victim of Tokimasa's ambition, whereafter the field would have been open for the grand climacteric, the supremacy of the Hojo.


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