Best books online Library

Your last book:

You dont read books at this site.

Total books on site: 11 280

You can read and download its for free!

Browse books by author: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 

Text on one page: Few Medium Many
Yet
Japan accords to Yoshitsune the first place among her great captains.
Undoubtedly this estimate is influenced by sympathy. Pursued by the
relentless anger of his own brother, whose cause he had so splendidly
championed, he was forced to fly for refuge to the north, and was
ultimately done to death. This most cruel return for glorious deeds
has invested his memory with a mist of tears tending to obscure the
true outlines of events, so that while Yoritomo is execrated as an
inhuman, selfish tyrant, Yoshitsune is worshipped as a faultless
hero. Yet, when examined closely, the situation undergoes some
modifications. Yoritomo's keen insight discerned in his
half-brother's attitude something more than mere rivalry. He
discovered the possible establishment of special relations between
the Imperial Court and a section of the Minamoto.

Yoshitsune's failure to repair to Kamakura after the battle of
Ichi-no-tani inspired Yoritomo's first doubts. Japanese annals offer
no explanation of Yoshitsune's procedure on that occasion. It would
have been in the reasonable sequence of events that the military
genius which planned and carried out the great coup at Ichi-no-tani
should have been available at the subsequent council of strategists
in Kamakura, and it would have been natural that the younger brother
should have repaired, as did his elder brother, Noriyori, to the
headquarters of the clan's chief. Yet Yoshitsune remained at Kyoto,
and that by so doing he should have suggested some suspicions to
Yoritomo was unavoidable. The secret of the Court nobles' ability to
exclude the military magnates from any share in State administration
was no secret in Yoritomo's eyes. He saw clearly that this
differentiation had been effected by playing off one military party
against the other, or by dividing the same party against itself; and
he saw clearly that opportunities for such measures had been
furnished by subjecting the military leaders to constant contact with
the Court nobility.

Therefore, he determined to keep two aims always in view. One was to
establish a military and executive capital entirely apart from, and
independent of, the Imperial and administrative metropolis; the
other, to preserve the unity of the Minamoto clan in all
circumstances. Both of these aims seemed to be threatened with
failure when Yoshitsune preferred the Court in Kyoto to the camp in
Kamakura; still more so when he accepted from Go-Shirakawa rank and
office for which Yoritomo had not recommended him, and yet further
when he obtained from the ex-Emperor a commission to lead the
Minamoto armies westward without any reference to, and in despite of,
the obvious intention of the Minamoto chief at Kamakura.

All these acts could scarcely fail to be interpreted by Yoritomo as
preluding the very results which he particularly desired to avert,
namely, a house of Minamoto divided against itself and the
re-establishment of Court influence over a strong military party in
Kyoto. His apprehensions received confirmation from reports furnished
by Kajiwara Kagetoki. Yoritomo trusted this man implicitly. Never
forgetting that Kajiwara had saved his life in the affair of the
hollow tree, he appointed him to the post of military governor and to
the command of the army destined to drive the Taira from Shikoku
after the battle of Ichi-no-tani. In that command Kajiwara had been
superseded by Yoshitsune, and had moreover been brought into ridicule
in connexion not only with the shipbuilding incident but also, and in
a far more flagrant manner, with the great fight at Yashima. He seems
from the first to have entertained doubts of Yoshitsune's loyalty to
Yoritomo, and his own bitter experiences may well have helped to
convert those doubts into certainties. He warned Kamakura in very
strong terms against the brilliant young general who was then the
idol of Kyoto, and thus, when Yoshitsune, in June, 1185, repaired to
Kamakura to hand over the prisoners taken in the battle of Dan-no-ura
and to pay his respects to Yoritomo, he was met at Koshigoe, a
village in the vicinity, by Hojo Tokimasa, who conveyed to him
Yoritomo's veto against his entry to Kamakura. A letter addressed by
Yoshitsune to his brother on that occasion ran, in part, as follows:

Here am I, weeping crimson tears in vain at thy displeasure. Well was
it said that good medicine tastes bitter in the mouth, and true words
ring harsh in the ear. This is why the slanders that men speak of me
remain unproved, why I am kept out of Kamakura unable to lay bare my
heart. These many days 1 have lain here and could not gaze upon my
brother's face. The bond of our blood-brotherhood is sundered.

But a short season after I was born, my honoured sire passed to
another world, and I was left fatherless. Clasped in my mother's
bosom, I was carried down to Yamato, and since that day I have not
known a moment free from care and danger. Though it was but to drag
out a useless life, we wandered round the capital suffering hardship,
hid in all manner of rustic spots, dwelt in remote and distant
provinces, whose rough inhabitants did treat us with contumely. But
at last I was summoned to assist in overthrowing the Taira house, and
in this conflict I first laid Kiso Yoshinaka low. Then, so that I
might demolish the Taira men, I spurred my steed on frowning
precipices. Careless of death in the face of the foe, I braved the
dangers of wind and wave, not recking that my body might sink to the
bottom of the sea, and be devoured by monsters of the deep. My pillow
was my harness, arms my trade. [Translated by W. G. Aston.]

This letter breathes the spirit of sincerity. But its perusal did not
soften Yoritomo, if it ever reached his eyes. He steadily refused to
cancel his veto, and after an abortive sojourn of twenty days at
Koshigoe, Yoshitsune returned to Kyoto where his conduct won for him
increasing popularity. Three months later, Yoritomo appointed him
governor of Iyo. It is possible that had not the situation been
complicated by a new factor, the feud between the brothers might have
ended there. But Minamoto Yukiiye, learning of these strained
relations, emerged from hiding and applied himself to win the
friendship of Yoshitsune, who received his advances graciously.
Yoritomo, much incensed at this development, sent the son of Kajiwara
Kagetoki to Yoshitsune with a mandate for Yukiiye's execution. Such a
choice of messenger was ill calculated to promote concord.
Yoshitsune, pleading illness, declined to receive the envoy, and it
was determined at Kamakura that extreme measures must be employed.
Volunteers were called for to make away with Yoshitsune, and, in
response, a Nara bonze, Tosabo Shoshun, whose physical endowments had
brought him into prominence at Kamakura, undertook the task on
condition that a substantial reward be given him beforehand.

Shoshun did not waste any time. On the eighth night after his
departure from Kamakura, he, with sixty followers, attacked
Yoshitsune's mansion at Horikawa in Kyoto. By wholesale oaths, sworn
in the most solemn manner, he had endeavoured to disarm the
suspicions of his intended victim, and he so far succeeded that, when
the attack was delivered, Yoshitsune had only seven men to hold the
mansion against sixty. But these seven were the trusty and stalwart
comrades who had accompanied Yoshitsune from Mutsu and had shared all
the vicissitudes of his career. They held their assailants at bay
until Yukiiye, roused by the tumult, came to the rescue, and the
issue of Shoshun's essay was that his own head appeared on the
pillory in Kyoto. Yoshitsune was awakened and hastily armed on this
occasion by his beautiful mistress, Shizuka, who, originally a
danseuse of Kyoto, followed him for love's sake in weal and in woe.
Tokiwa, Tomoe, Kesa, and Shizuka--these four heroines will always
occupy a prominent place in Japanese history of the twelfth century.

After this event there could be no concealments between the two
brothers. With difficulty and not without some menaces, Yoshitsune
obtained from Go-Shirakawa a formal commission to proceed against
Yoritomo by force of arms. Matters now moved with great rapidity.
Yoritomo, always prescient, had fully foreseen the course of events.
Shoshun's abortive attack on the Horikawa mansion took place on
November 10, 1185, and before the close of the month three strong
columns of Kamakura troops were converging on Kyoto. In that
interval, Yoshitsune, failing to muster any considerable force in the
capital or its environs, had decided to turn his back on Kyoto and
proceed westward; he himself to Kyushu, and Yukiiye to Shikoku. They
embarked on November 29th, but scarcely had they put to sea when they
encountered a gale which shattered their squadron. Yoshitsune and
Yukiiye both landed on the Izumi coast, each ignorant of the other's
fate. The latter was captured and beheaded a few months later, but
the former made his way to Yamato and found hiding-places among the
valleys and mountains of Yoshino. The hero of Ichi-no-tani and
Yashima was now a proscribed fugitive. Go-Shirakawa, whose fate was
always to obey circumstances rather than to control them, had issued
a new mandate on the arrival of Yoritomo's forces at Kyoto, and
Kamakura was now authorized to exterminate Yoshitsune with all his
partisans, wherever they could be found.

Almost simultaneously with the capture of Yukiiye, whose fate excites
no pity, the fair girl, Shizuka, was apprehended and brought before
Hojo Tokimasa, who governed Kyoto as Yoritomo's lieutenant. Little
more than a year had elapsed since she first met Yoshitsune after his
return from Dan-no-ura, and her separation from him now had been
insisted on by him as the only means of saving her life. Indifferent
to her own fate, she quickly fell into the hands of Tokimasa's
emissaries and was by them subjected to a fruitless examination,
repeated with equally abortive results on her arrival at Kamakura.
There, in spite of her vehement resistance, she was constrained to
dance before Yoritomo and his wife, Masa, but instead of confining
herself to stereotyped formulae, she utilized the occasion to chant
to the accompaniment of her dance a stanza of sorrow for separation
from her lover.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | 143 | | 144 | | 145 | | 146 | | 147 | | 148 | | 149 | | 150 | | 151 | | 152 | | 153 | | 154 | | 155 | | 156 | | 157 | | 158 | | 159 | | 160 | | 161 | | 162 | | 163 | | 164 | | 165 | | 166 | | 167 | | 168 | | 169 | | 170 | | 171 | | 172 | | 173 | | 174 | | 175 | | 176 | | 177 | | 178 | | 179 | | 180 | | 181 | | 182 | | 183 | | 184 | | 185 | | 186 | | 187 | | 188 | | 189 | | 190 | | 191 | | 192 | | 193 | | 194 | | 195 | | 196 | | 197 | | 198 | | 199 | | 200 | | 201 | | 202 | | 203 | | 204 | | 205 | | 206 | | 207 | | 208 | | 209 | | 210 | | 211 | | 212 | | 213 | | 214 | | 215 | | 216 | | 217 | | 218 | | 219 | | 220 | | 221 | | 222 | | 223 | | 224 | | 225 | | 226 | | 227 | | 228 | | 229 | | 230 | | 231 | | 232 | | 233 | | 234 | | 235 | | 236 | | 237 | | 238 | | 239 | | 240 | | 241 | | 242 | | 243 | | 244 | | 245 | | 246 | | 247 | | 248 | | 249 | | 250 | | 251 | | 252 | | 253 | | 254 | | 255 | | 256 | | 257 | | 258 | | 259 | | 260 | | 261 | | 262 | | 263 | | 264 | | Next |