free ebooks

A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Amid such conditions Sadatoki took the tonsure in 1300


was at this time, also, that the military families of the Kwanto in general and of Kamakura in particular began to find their incomes distressingly inadequate to meet the greatly increased and constantly increasing outlays that resulted from following the costly customs of Kyoto as reflected at the shogun's palace. Advantage was taken of this condition by professional money-lenders, by ambitious nobles, and even by wealthy farmers, who, supplying funds at exorbitant rates of interest, obtained possession of valuable estates. The Bakufu made several futile legislative essays to amend this state of affairs, and finally, in the year 1297, they resorted to a ruinous device called tokusei, or the "benevolent policy." This consisted in enacting a law which vetoed all suits for the recovery of interest, cancelled all mortgages, and interdicted the pledging of military men's property.

Of course, such legislation proved disastrous. Whatever temporary relief it afforded to indigent and improvident debtors, was far outweighed by the blow given to credit generally, and by the indignation excited among creditors. The Bakufu owed much of the stability of their influence to the frugality of their lives and to their unsullied administration of justice. But now the Kwanto bushi rivalled the Kyoto gallants in extravagance; the Kamakura tribunals forfeited the confidence of the people, and the needy samurai began to wish for the return of troublous times, when

fortunes could be won with the sword. Amid such conditions Sadatoki took the tonsure in 1300, and was succeeded nominally by his cousin Morotoki, who, however, administered affairs in consultation with the retired regent. In 1303, a son was born to Sadatoki, and the latter, dying in 1311, bequeathed the office of regent to this boy when he should reach years of discretion, entrusting him, meanwhile, to the guardianship of two officials, the more active of whom was a lay priest, Nagasaki Enki.

An idea of the confusion existing at that time in Kamakura may be gathered from the fact that, during the five years between the death of Sadatoki and the accession of his son Takatoki (1316), no less than four members of the Hojo family held the regency in succession. Takatoki was destined to be the last of the Hojo regents. Coming into power at the age of thirteen, his natural giddiness of character is said to have been deliberately encouraged by his guardian, Nagasaki, but even had he been a stronger man it is doubtful whether he could have saved the situation. Corruption had eaten deeply into the heart of the Bakufu. In 1323, a question concerning right of succession to the Ando estate was carried to Kamakura for adjudication, and the chief judge, Nagasaki Takasuke, son of the old lay priest mentioned above, having taken bribes from both of the litigants, delivered an inscrutable opinion. Save for its sequel, this incident would merely have to be catalogued with many cognate injustices which disfigured the epoch. But the Ando family being one of the most powerful in northern Japan, its rival representatives appealed to arms in support of their respective claims, and the province of Oshu was thrown into such confusion that a force had to be sent from Kamakura to restore order. This expedition failed, and with its failure the prestige of the Hojo fell in a region where hitherto it had been untarnished--the arena of arms. The great Japanese historian, Rai Sanyo, compared the Bakufu of that time to a tree beautiful outwardly but worm-eaten at the core, and in the classical work, Taiheiki, the state of affairs is thus described:

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