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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

As betto of the Samurai dokoro



Crafty and astute as was Hojo Tokimasa, his son Yoshitoki excelled him in both of those attributes as well as in prescience. It was to the mansion of Yoshitoki that Sanetomo was carried for safety when his life was menaced by the wiles of Tokimasa. Yet in thus espousing the cause of his sister, Masa, and his nephew, Sanetomo, against his father, Tokimasa, and his brother-in-law, Tomomasa, it is not to be supposed that Yoshitoki's motive was loyalty to the house of Yoritomo. On the contrary, everything goes to show that he would have associated himself with his father's conspiracy had he not deemed the time premature and the method clumsy. He waited patiently, and when the occasion arrived, he "covered his tracks" with infinite skill while marching always towards the goal of Tokimasa's ambition.

The first to be "removed" was Wada Yoshimori, whom Yoritomo had gratefully appointed betto of the Samurai-dokoro. Yoritomo's eldest son, Yoriiye, had left two sons, Kugyo and Senju-maru. The former had taken the tonsure after his father's and elder brother's deaths, in 1204, but the cause of the latter was espoused with arms by a Shinano magnate, Izumi Chikahira, in 1213. On Wada Yoshimori, as betto of the Samurai-dokoro, devolved the duty of quelling this revolt. He did so effectually, but in the disposition of the insurgents' property, the shikken, Yoshitoki, contrived to drive Wada to open rebellion. He attacked

the mansion of the shogun and the shikken, captured and burned the former, chiefly through the prowess of his giant son, Asahina Saburo; but was defeated and ultimately killed, Senju-maru, though only thirteen years old, being condemned to death on the pretext that his name had been used to foment the insurrection! After this convenient episode, Yoshitoki supplemented his office of shikken with that of betto of the Samurai-dokoro, thus becoming supreme in military and civil affairs alike.


How far Sanetomo appreciated the situation thus created there is much difficulty in determining. The sentiment of pity evoked by his tragic fate has been projected too strongly upon the pages of his annals to leave them quite legible. He had seen his elder brother and two of the latter's three sons done to death. He had seen the "removal" of several of his father's most trusted lieutenants. He had seen the gradual upbuilding of the Hojo power on this hecatomb of victims. That he perceived something of his own danger would seem to be a natural inference. Yet if he entertained such apprehensions, he never communicated them to his mother, Masa, who, from her place of high prestige and commanding intellect, could have reshaped the issue.

The fact would appear to be that Hojo Yoshitoki's intrigues were too subtle for the perception of Sanetomo or even of the lady Masa. Yoshitoki had learned all the lessons of craft and cunning that his father could teach and had supplemented them from the resources of his own marvellously fertile mind. His uniformly successful practice was to sacrifice the agents of his crimes in order to hide his own connexion with them, and never to seize an opportunity until its possibilities were fully developed. Tokimasa had feigned ignorance of his daughter's liaison with Yoritomo, but had made it the occasion to raise an army which could be directed either against Yoritomo or in his support, as events ordered. There are strong reasons to think that the vendetta of the Soga brothers was instigated by Tokimasa and Yoshitoki, and that Yoritomo was intended to be the ultimate victim.

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