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As for the Court nobles, their
incomes did not always suffice even for the needs of every-day life,
and they were obliged to have recourse to various devices, such as
marrying their daughters to provincial governors or selling
professional diplomas, the right of conferring which was vested in
their families.

THE SEKKE, DENSO, AND SHOSHIDAI

The sole functions left to the Imperial Court were those of
appointing the shogun--which of course was only formal--conferring
ranks, fixing the name of year-periods, ordering the calendar, taking
part in ceremonials, nominating priests and officials, and
sanctioning the building of temples. Thus, the regent (kwampaku) was
the sovereign's appointee. He had to be chosen in succession from one
of the five families--Konoe, Takatsukasa, Kujo, Nijo, and Ichijo, to
which the general name Go-sekke (the Five Regent Families) was given.
But the regent was practically without power of any kind. Very
different was the case of the denso, who had direct access to the
Throne. Appointed by the shogun from one of seventeen families
closely related to the Tokugawa, a denso, before entering upon the
duties of his office, was obliged to swear that he would minutely and
unreservedly report to the Bakufu everything coming to his knowledge.
His principal duty was to communicate direct with the Throne. There
was also another Bakufu nominee called the giso, who administered the
affairs of the Imperial Court, and who held, in addition, the post of
dai-nagon, chu-nagon, or sho-nagon, which offices were reserved for
members of the Tokugawa family. Yet another official representing the
Bakufu was the shoshidai, who managed all matters connected with the
guarding of the Imperial Court and the Court nobles, at the same time
transacting financial business. In the event of any disturbance
occurring in Court circles in Kyoto, it was reported, first, to the
shoshidai and, then, by him, to the senior officials in Yedo, while
any disturbance occurring in Yedo was equally reported, first to the
shoshidai and afterwards by the latter to the sovereign. The
shoshidai was in fact a governor-general, with powers far superior to
those of any Court noble, and his sway extended to the eight
provinces in the neighbourhood of Kyoto. By means of the shoshidai
all circumstances of the Imperial Court were fully conveyed to the
Bakufu in Yedo and complete control was exercised over the Imperial
capital and its environs. The Bakufu were careful to choose for this
post a man whose loyalty and ability stood beyond question. Finally,
reference may be made to the administrator of the reigning
sovereign's Court (Kinri-zuki bugyo) and the administrator of the
ex-Emperor's court (Sendo-zuki bugyo), both of whom were Bakufu
nominees.

THE 107TH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR GO-YOZEI (A.D. 1586-1611)

This Emperor held the sceptre throughout the memorable epoch from the
death of Nobunaga till that of Ieyasu, and he continued to exercise
power during six years after his abdication. It was he that conferred
the post of shogun on Ieyasu and gave him his posthumous title of
Tosho Gongen. His Majesty was the eldest son of the Emperor Okimachi.
He surrendered the throne to his third son in 1611, dying at the age
of forty-seven in 1617.

THE 108TH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR GO-MIZU-NO-O (A.D. 1611-1629)

This sovereign had for consort a daughter of the shogun Hidetada, as
already described. The wedding took place in the year 1620, and its
magnificence offered a theme for enthusiastic comment by contemporary
historians. The shogun was careful to surround the Imperial bride
with officials of his own choosing, and these, joining hands with the
shoshidai and the denso, constituted an entourage which ordered
everything at Kyoto in strict accordance with the interests of the
Tokugawa. The new Empress was dowered with an estate much larger than
that of the Emperor himself, although the latter's allowance was
increased by ten thousand koku. It is related that his Majesty's
impecuniosity compelled the curtailment of various ceremonies and
prevented the giving of presents in the ordinary routine of social
conventions, so that it became necessary to replenish the Imperial
purse by lending rice and money to the citizens at high rates of
interest.

A serious collision occurred during Go-Mizu-no-o's reign between the
Courts of Kyoto and Yedo. The Emperor, who inclined to literature and
religion, conceived a profound reverence for two Buddhist prelates of
great learning and conspicuously holy lives. To these priests, Takuan
and Gyokushitsu, his Majesty presented purple robes, a mark of the
highest distinction, in apparently unwitting violation of the
ecclesiastical laws promulgated by Ieyasu, which forbade the giving
of such robes to any bonzes except those of Kennin-ji. On learning of
the incident, the Bakufu summoned these prelates to Yedo, deprived
them of the robes, and sent them into banishment. The Emperor,
naturally much offended, declared that he would no longer occupy the
throne, and in 1629, the year of the two priests' transportation, he
carried out his threat, abdicating in favour of the Imperial
princess, Oki, his eldest daughter by the Tokugawa Empress.

THE 109TH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPRESS MYOSHO (A.D. 1629-1643)

The Princess Oki, eldest daughter of Tokufu-mon-in and the Emperor
Go-Mizu-no-o, was only seven years of age when thus called on to
occupy the throne. During eight hundred years no female had wielded
the sceptre of Japan, and the princess was not without a brother
older than herself, though born of a different mother. Thus, the
announcement of the Emperor's intention created profound astonishment
in the Imperial Court. The partisans of the Bakufu supported the
project, but the friends of the Imperial family denounced it
strenuously. Nothing moved the Emperor, however. His Majesty appears
to have thought that to bestow the princess' hand on a subject and to
elevate her elder brother to the throne would surely be productive of
serious mischief, since the husband of the princess, supported by the
Bakufu, would prove an invincible power in the State.

As for the Tokugawa statesmen, some accounts allege that they
objected to the Emperor's project, but others say that when the
matter was reported in Yedo, the shogun signified that his Majesty
might consult his own judgment. What is certain is that the Bakufu
sent to Kyoto the prime minister, Sakai Tadakiyo, with three other
representatives, and that shortly after their arrival in the Imperial
capital, arrangements were completed for the proposed change. The
Imperial consort, Tofuku-mon-in, was declared ex-Empress with a
revenue of 10,000 koku, and the little princess, who is known in
history as Myosho, received an income of 20,000 koku; while to the
ex-Emperor, Go-Mizu-no-o, only 3000 koku were allotted. Not until
1634, on the occasion of a visit made by Iemitsu, was this glaring
contrast corrected: the shogun then increased the ex-Emperor's
allowance to 7000 koku, and his Majesty continued to administer
public affairs from his place of retirement until 1680, when he died
hi his eighty-fifth year.

THE 110TH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR GO-KOMYO (A.D. 1643-1654)

This sovereign was a brother of the Empress Myosho but of a different
mother. He was brought up by Tofuku-mon-in as though he were her real
child, until he succeeded to the throne at the age of eleven,
occupying it for eleven years. Form his earliest youth he showed
sagacity, magnanimity, and benevolence. His love of literature was
absorbing, and he studied earnestly, taking the priests of the Five
Temples as his teachers. He is said to have arrived at the conclusion
that a sovereign should never study any useless branch of learning,
and as he failed to see the utility of Buddhism, he turned to
Confucianism in preference. Moreover, dissatisfied with the old
commentaries of the Han and Tang dynasties, he chose in their stead
the new classics composed by Chengtsz and Chutsz; and as for Japanese
literature, he condemned as grossly misleading works like the Genji
Monogatari and the Ise Monogatari.

There can be no doubt that this sovereign conceived the ambition of
recovering the administrative authority. His reign extended from the
twenty-second year of Iemitsu's sway to the fifth of Ietsuna's, and
in the troubles of that period he thought that he saw his
opportunity. It is related that he devoted much attention to sword
exercise, and the shoshidai Itakura Shigemune warned him that the
study of military matters did not become the Imperial Court and would
probably provoke a remonstrance from Yedo should the fact become
known there. The Emperor taking no notice of this suggestion,
Shigemune went so far as to declare his intention of committing
suicide unless the fencing lessons were discontinued. Thereupon the
young Emperor calmly observed: "I have never seen a military man kill
himself, and the spectacle will be interesting. You had better have a
platform erected in the palace grounds so that your exploit may be
clearly witnessed." When this incident was reported by the shoshidai
to Yedo, the Bakufu concluded that some decisive measure must be
taken, but before their resolve had materialized and before the
sovereign's plans had matured, he died of small-pox, in 1654, at the
age of twenty-two, having accomplished nothing except the restoration
and improvement of certain Court ceremonials, the enactment of a few
sumptuary laws, and the abandonment of cremation in the case of
Imperial personages.

THE 111TH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR GO-SAIEN (A.D. 1654-1663) AND
THE 112TH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR REIGEN (A.D. 1663-1686)

Go-Saien was the sixth son of the Emperor Go-Mizu-no-o. His reign is
remarkable in connexion with the attitude of the Yedo Bakufu towards
the Throne. In 1657, as already related, Yedo was visited by a
terrible conflagration, and another of scarcely less destructive
violence occurred in the same city the following year, while, in
1661, the Imperial palace itself was burned to the ground, the same
fate overtaking the principal Shinto shrine in Ise, and nearly every
province suffering more or less from a similar cause.



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