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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

But with the death of Sanetomo


is recorded that the first half of every month in Kamakura was devoted to judicial proceedings, and that at the gate of the Record Office there was hung a bell, by striking which a suitor or petitioner could count on immediate attention.


In the Minamoto's original scheme of government the office of shogun was an administrative reality. Its purpose was to invest the Bakufu chief with permanent authority to command all the military and naval forces throughout the empire for the defence and tranquillization of the country. In that light the shogunate was regarded while it remained in the hands of Yoritomo and his two sons, Yoriie and Sanetomo. But with the death of Sanetomo, in 1219, and the political extinction of the Minamoto family, the shogunate assumed a different character in the eyes of the Minamoto's successors, the Hojo. These latter, not qualified to hold the office themselves, regarded it as a link between Kamakura and Kyoto, and even as a source from which might be derived lawful sanction for opposing the Throne should occasion arise. Therefore they asked the Emperor Go-Toba to nominate one of his younger sons, and on receiving a refusal, they were fain to be content with a member of the Fujiwara family, who had long held the Court in the hollow of their hands. This nomination was never intended to carry with it any real authority. The shoguns were mere puppets. During the interval

of 114 years between the death of Sanetomo (1219) and the fall of the Hojo (1333), there were six of these faineant officials:

Age at Age at Appn't Depos'n

Fujiwara Yoritsune, 1219-1244 2 27

Yoritsugu 1244-1252 5 13

Prince Munetaka, 1252-1266 10 24 elder brother of Go-Fukakusa

Prince Koreyasu, son of Munetaka 1266-1289 3 26

Prince Hisaakira, son of Go-Fukakusa 1289-1308 13 32

Prince Morikuni, son of Hisaakira 1308-1333 7 32

The record shows that all these officials were appointed at an age when independent thought had not yet become possible, and that they were removed as soon as they began to think for themselves. It will be observed that there is a palpable break in the uniformity of the list. Yoritsugu alone was stripped of office while still in his teens. That was because his father, the ex-shogun, engaged in a plot to overthrow the Hojo. But the incident was also opportune. It occurred just at the time when other circumstances combined to promote the ambition of the Hojo in the matter of obtaining an Imperial prince for shogun. The throne was then occupied by Go-Fukakusa (the eighty-ninth sovereign), a son of Go-Saga (the eighty-eighth sovereign), who, as we shall see, owed his elevation to the influence exercised by Hojo Yasutoki after the Shokyu war. Now it happened that, in 1252, a conspiracy against Go-Saga was found to have been fomented by the head of that branch of the Fujiwara family from which the Kamakura shoguns were taken. The conspiracy was a thing of the past and so were its principal fomenters, but it served as a conclusive reason for not creating another Fujiwara shogun. Prince Munetaka, an elder brother of the reigning Emperor, was chosen, and thus the last four Bakufu shoguns were all of Imperial blood.

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