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But the latter, having married into
the Minamoto family, had thus become ineligible for the throne in
Fujiwara eyes. The Emperor hesitated, therefore, to give open
expression to his views, and while he waited, he himself fell
mortally ill. On his death-bed he issued the necessary instruction,
but the Fujiwara deliberately ignored it, being determined that a
consort of their own blood must be the leading lady in every Imperial
household. Then the indignation of the other great families, the
Minamoto and the Taira, blazed out. Mitsunaka, representing the
former, and Shigenobu the latter, entered into a conspiracy to
collect an army in the Kwanto and march against Kyoto with the sole
object of compelling obedience to Murakami's dying behest. The plot
was divulged by Minamoto Mitsunaka in the sequel of a quarrel with
Taira no Shigenobu; the plotters were all exiled, and Takaaki,
youngest son of the Emperor Daigo, though wholly ignorant of the
conspiracy, was falsely accused to the Throne by Fujiwara Morotada,
deprived of his post of minister of the Left, to which his accuser
was nominated, and sent to that retreat for disgraced officials, the
Dazai-fu. Another instance is here furnished of the readiness with
which political rivals slandered one another in old Japan, and
another instance, also, of the sway exercised over the sovereign by
his Fujiwara ministers.

THE SIXTY-THIRD SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR REIZEI (A.D. 968-969)

THE SIXTY-FOURTH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR ENYU (A.D. 970-984)

The reigns of Reizei and Enyu are remarkable for quarrels among the
members of the Fujiwara family--quarrels which, to be followed
intelligently, require frequent reference to the genealogical table
(page 203). Fujiwara Morosuke had five sons, Koretada, Kanemichi,
Kaneiye, Tamemitsu, and Kinsuye. Two of these, Koretada and Kaneiye,
presented one each of their daughters to the Emperor Reizei, and
Koretada's daughter gave birth to Prince Morosada, who afterwards
reigned as Kwazan, while Kaneiye's daughter bore Okisada,
subsequently the Emperor Sanjo. After one year's reign, Reizei, who
suffered from brain disease, abdicated in favour of his younger
brother, Enyu, then only in his eleventh year. Fujiwara Saneyori
acted as regent, but, dying shortly afterwards, was succeeded in that
office by his nephew, Koretada, who also had to resign on account of
illness.

Between this latter's two brothers, Kanemichi and Kaneiye, keen
competition for the regency now sprang up. Kanemichi's eldest
daughter was the Empress of Enyu, but his Majesty favoured Kaneiye,
who thus attained much higher rank than his elder brother. Kanemichi,
however, had another source of influence. His sister was Murakami's
Empress and mother of the reigning sovereign, Enyu. This Imperial
lady, writing to his Majesty Enyu at Kanemichi's dictation, conjured
the Emperor to be guided by primogeniture in appointing a regent, and
Enyu, though he bitterly disliked Kanemichi, could not gainsay his
mother. Thus Kanemichi became chancellor and acting regent. The
struggle was not concluded, however. It ended in the palace itself,
whither the two brothers repaired almost simultaneously, Kanemichi
rising from his sick-bed for the purpose. In the presence of the boy
Emperor, Kanemichi arbitrarily transferred his own office of kwampaku
to Fujiwara Yoritada and degraded his brother, Kaneiye, to a
comparatively insignificant post. The sovereign acquiesced; he had no
choice. A few months later, this dictator died. It is related of him
that his residence was more gorgeous than the palace and his manner
of life more sumptuous than the sovereign's. The men of his time were
wont to say, "A tiger's mouth is less fatal than the frown of the
regent, Kanemichi."

THE SIXTY-FIFTH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR KWAZAN (A.D. 985-986)

THE SIXTY-SIXTH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR ICHIJO (A.D. 987-1011)

Eldest son of the Emperor Reizei, Kwazan ascended the throne in 985.
His mother was a daughter of Fujiwara Koretada, and Yoritada, whose
appointment as regent has just been described, continued to act in
that capacity. Kaneiye's opportunity had now come. Kwazan having
succeeded Enyu, nominated the latter's son to be Crown Prince,
instead of conferring the position on his own brother, Prince Okisada
(afterwards Sanjo). Now the Crown Prince was the son of Kaneiye's
daughter, and that ambitious noble determined to compass the
sovereign's abdication without delay. Kwazan, originally a fickle
lover, had ultimately conceived an absorbing passion for the lady
Tsuneko. He could not be induced to part with her even at the time of
her pregnancy, and as there was no proper provision in the palace for
such an event, Tsuneko died in labour. Kwazan, distraught with grief,
was approached by Kaneiye's son, Michikane, who urged him to retire
from the world and seek in Buddhism the perfect peace thus alone
attainable. Michikane declared his own intention of entering the
"path," and on a moonlight night the two men, leaving the palace,
repaired to the temple Gwangyo-ji to take the tonsure. There,
Michikane, pretending he wished to bid final farewell to his family,
departed to return no more, and the Emperor understood that he had
been deceived.

Retreat was now impossible, however. He abdicated in favour of
Ichijo, a child of seven, and Kaneiye became regent and chancellor.
He emulated the magnificence of his deceased brother and rival,
Kanemichi, and his residence at Higashi-Sanjo in Kyoto was built
after the model of the "hall of freshness" in the palace. He had five
sons, the most remarkable of whom were Michitaka, Michikane, and
Michinaga. It will be presently seen that in the hands of the last
the power of the Fujiwara reached its zenith. On the death of Kaneiye
the office of kwampaku fell to his eldest son, Michitaka, and, in
993, the latter being seriously ill, his son, Korechika, looked to be
his successor. But the honour fell to Michitaka's brother, Michikane.
Seven days after his nomination, Michikane died, and, as a matter of
course, men said that he had been done to death by the incantations
of his ambitious nephew. Again, however, the latter was disappointed.
Kaneiye's third son, Michinaga, succeeded to the regency.

Almost immediately, the new regent seems to have determined that his
daughter should be Empress. But the daughter of his elder brother,
the late Michitaka, already held that position. This, however,
constituted no sort of obstacle in the eyes of the omnipotent
Michinaga. He induced--"required" would probably be a more accurate
expression--the Empress to abandon the world, shave her head, and
remove to a secluded palace, (the Kokideri); where-after he caused
his own daughter to become the Imperial consort under the title of
chugu,* her residence being fixed in the Fujitsubo, which was the
recognized palace of the Empress.

*A lady on introduction to the palace received the title of jokwan.
If the daughter of a minister of State, she was called nyogo. Chugu
was a still higher title devised specially for Michinaga's purpose,
and naturally it became a precedent.

It is not to be imagined that with such a despotic regent, the
Emperor himself exercised any real authority. The annals show that
Ichijo was of benevolent disposition; that he sympathized with his
people; that he excelled in prose composition and possessed much
skill in music. Further, during his reign of twenty-four years many
able men graced the era. But neither their capacity nor his own found
opportunity for exercise in the presence of Michinaga's proteges,
and, while profoundly disliking the Fujiwara autocrat, Ichijo was
constrained to suffer him.

THE SIXTY-SEVENTH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR SANJO (A.D. 1012-1017)

THE SIXTY-EIGHTH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR GO-ICHIJO (A.D. 1017-1036)

Prince Okisada, younger brother of the Emperor Kwazan, ascended the
throne at the age of thirty-six, on the abdication of Ichijo, and is
known in history as Sanjo. Before his accession he had married the
daughter of Fujiwara Naritoki, to whom he was much attached, but with
the crown he had to accept the second daughter of Michinaga as chugu,
his former consort becoming Empress. His Majesty had to acquiesce in
another arbitrary arrangement also. It has been shown above that
Michinaga's eldest daughter had been given the title of chugu in the
palace of Ichijo, to whom she bore two sons, Atsunari and Atsunaga.
Neither of these had any right to be nominated Crown Prince in
preference to Sanjo's offspring. Michinaga, however, caused Atsunari
to be appointed Prince Imperial, ignoring Sanjo's son, since his
mother belonged to an inferior branch of the Fujiwara. Further, it
did not suit the regent's convenience that a ruler of mature age
should occupy the throne. An eye disease from which Sanjo suffered
became the pretext for pressing him to abdicate, and, in 1017,
Atsunari, then in his ninth year, took the sceptre as Emperor
Go-Ichijo, or Ichijo II. Michinaga continued to act as regent,
holding, at the same time, the office of minister of the Left, but he
subsequently handed over the regency to his son, Yorimichi, becoming
himself chancellor.

Go-Ichijo was constrained to endure at Michinaga's hands the same
despotic treatment as that previously meted out to Sanjo. The
legitimate claim of his offspring to the throne was ignored in favour
of his brother, Atsunaga, who received for consort the fourth
daughter of Michinaga. Thus, this imperious noble had controlled the
administration for thirty years; had given his daughters to three
Emperors; had appointed his son to be regent in his place, and had
the Crown Prince for grandson. Truly, as his historians say, he held
the empire in the hollow of his hand. His estates far exceeded those
of the Crown; the presents offered to him by all ranks reached an
enormous total; he built for himself a splendid mansion (Jotomon)
with forced labour requisitioned from the provinces, and for his wife
a scarcely less magnificent residence (Kyogoku) was erected at the
charges of the Emperor Go-Ichijo. At the approach of illness he took
refuge in Buddhism, but even here the gorgeous ostentation of his
life was not abated.



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