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No such
mandate was issued, nor does it appear that the ex-Emperor attended
any of the meetings in Shishi-ga-tani, but there can be no doubt
that he had full cognizance of, and sympathized with, what was in
progress.

The conspiracy never matured. It was betrayed by Minamoto Yukitsuna.
Saiko and his two sons were beheaded; Narichika was exiled and
subsequently put to death, and all the rest were banished. The great
question was, how to deal with Go-Shirakawa. Kiyomori was for leading
troops to arrest his Majesty, and to escort him as a prisoner to the
Toba palace or the Taira mansion. None of the despot's kinsmen or
adherents ventured to gainsay this purpose until Kiyomori's eldest
son, Shigemori, appeared upon the scene. Shigemori had contributed
much to the signal success of the Taira. Dowered with all the
strategical skill and political sagacity which his father lacked, he
had won victories for the family arms, and again and again had
restrained the rash exercise of Kiyomori's impetuous arrogance. The
Taira chief had learned to stand in awe of his son's reproaches, and
when Shigemori declared that he would not survive any violence done
to Go-Shirakawa, Kiyomori left the council chamber, bidding Shigemori
to manage the matter as he thought fit.* Thus, Go-Shirakawa escaped
all the consequences of his association with the conspirators. But
Kiyomori took care that a copy of the bonze Saiko's confession,
extracted under torture and fully incriminating his Majesty, should
come into the Imperial hands.

*It is recorded that, on this occasion, Kiyomori, learning of his
son's approach, attempted unsuccessfully to conceal under priestly
robes the armour he had donned to go to the arrest of Go-Shirakawa.

A final rupture between the ex-Emperor and the Taira leader became
daily imminent. Two events contributed to precipitate it. One was
that in the year following the Shishi-ga-tani conspiracy, Kiyomori's
daughter, Toku, bore to Takakura a prince--the future Emperor Antoku
(eighty-first sovereign). The Taira chief thus found himself
grandfather of an heir to the throne, a fact which did not tend to
abate his arrogance. The second was the death of Shigemori, which
took place in 1179.

Shigemori's record shows him to have been at once a statesman and a
general. He never hesitated to check his father's extravagances, and
it has to be recorded in Kiyomori's favour that, however, intolerant
of advice or opposition he habitually showed himself, his eldest
son's remonstrances were seldom ignored. Yet, though many untoward
issues were thus averted, there was no sign that growing
responsibility brought to Kiyomori any access of circumspection. From
first to last he remained the same short-sighted, passion-driven,
impetuous despot and finally the evil possibilities of the situation
weighed so heavily on Shigemori's nerves that he publicly repaired to
a temple to pray for release from life. As though in answer to his
prayer he was attacked by a disease which carried him off at the age
of forty-two. There is a tradition that he installed forty-eight
images of Buddha in his mansion, and for their services employed many
beautiful women, so that sensual excesses contributed to the
semi-hysterical condition into which he eventually fell. That is not
impossible, but certainly a sense of impotence to save his father and
his family from the calamities he clearly saw approaching was the
proximate cause of his breakdown.

ENGRAVING: KIYOMIZU-DEKA TEMPLE, AT KYOTO

Results soon became apparent. The ex-Emperor, who had truly estimated
Shigemori's value as a pillar of Taira power, judged that an
opportunity for revolt had now arrived, and the Taira chief, deprived
of his son's restraining influence, became less competent than ever
to manage the great machine which fortune had entrusted to his
direction. The first challenge came from the ex-Emperor's side. It
has been related above that one of Kiyomori's politic acts after the
Heiji insurrection was to give his daughter to the regent; that, on
the latter's death, his child, Motomichi, by a Fujiwara, was
entrusted to the care of the Taira lady; that a large part of the
Fujiwara estates were diverted from the regent and settled upon
Motomichi, and that the latter was taken into a Taira mansion. The
regent who suffered by this arbitrary procedure was Fujiwara
Motofusa, the same noble whom, a few years later, Kiyomori caused to
be dragged from his car and docked of his queue because Motofusa had
insisted on due observance of etiquette by Kiyomori's grandson.
Naturally, Motofusa was ready to join hands with Go-Shirakawa in any
anti-Taira procedure.

Therefore, in 1179, on the death of Kiyomori's daughter, to whose
care Motomichi had been entrusted in his childhood, the ex-Emperor,
at the instance of Motofusa, appropriated all her manors and those of
Motomichi. Moreover, on the death of Shigemori shortly afterwards,
the same course was pursued with his landed property, and further,
Motomichi, though lawful head of the Fujiwara family, son-in-law of
Kiyomori, and of full age, had been refused the post of chunagon, the
claim of a twelve year-old son of Motofusa being preferred.* The
significance of these doings was unmistakable. Kiyomori saw that the
gauntlet had been thrown in his face. Hastening from his villa of
Fukuhara, in Settsu, at the head of a large force of troops, he
placed the ex-Emperor in strict confinement in the Toba palace,
segregating him completely from the official world and depriving him
of all administrative functions; he banished the kwampaku, Motofusa,
and the chancellor, Fujiwara Moronaga; he degraded and deprived of
their posts thirty-nine high officials who had formed the entourage
of Go-Shirakawa; he raised Motomichi to the office of kwampaku, and
he conferred on his son, Munemori, the function of guarding Kyoto,
strong bodies of soldiers being posted in the two Taira mansions of
Rokuhara on the north and south of the capital.

*See Murdoch's History of Japan.

THE YORIMASA CONSPIRACY

In 1180, at the instance of Kiyomori and partly, no doubt, because of
the difficult position in which he found himself placed with regard
to his imprisoned father, the Emperor Takakura, then in his twentieth
year, resigned the throne in favour of Kiyomori's grandson, Antoku
(eighty-first sovereign), a child of three. This was the culmination
of the Taira's fortunes. There was at that time among the Kyoto
officials a Minamoto named Yorimasa, sixth in descent from Minamoto
Mitsunaka, who flourished in the tenth century and by whose order the
heirloom swords, Hige-kiri and Hiza-kiri, were forged. This Yorimasa
was an expert bowman, a skilled soldier, and an adept versifier,
accomplishments not infrequently combined in one person during the
Heian epoch. Go-Shirakawa, appreciating Yorimasa's abilities,
nominated him director of the Imperial Estates Bureau (Kurando) and
afterwards made him governor of Hyogo.

But it was not until he had reached the age of seventy-five that, on
Kiyomori's recommendation, he received promotion, in 1178, to the
second grade of the third rank (ju-sammi), thus for the first time
obtaining the privilege of access to the Imperial presence. The
explanation of this tardy recognition is, perhaps, to be sought in
Yorimasa's preference of prudence to loyalty. In the year of Heiji,
he held his little band of bushi in the leash until the issue of the
battle could be clearly forseen, and then he threw in his lot with
the Taira. Such shallow fealty seldom wins its way to high place. Men
did not forget Yorimasa's record. His belated admission to the ranks
of the tenjo-bito provoked some derision and he was commonly spoken
of as Gen-sammi (the Minamoto third rank).

But even for one constitutionally so cautious, the pretensions of the
Taira became intolerable. Yorimasa determined to strike a blow for
the Minamoto cause, and looking round for a figure-head, he fixed
upon Prince Mochihito, elder brother of Takakura. This prince, being
the son of a concubine, had never reached Imperial rank, though he
was thirty years of age, but he possessed some capacity, and a noted
physiognomist had recognized in him a future Emperor. In 1170, at
Yorimasa's instance, Prince Mochihito secretly sent to all the
Minamoto families throughout the empire, especially to Yoritomo at
his place of exile in Izu, a document impeaching the conduct of the
Taira and exhorting the Minamoto to muster and attack them.

Yorimasa's story shows that he would not have embarked upon this
enterprise had he not seen solid hope of success. But one of the aids
he counted on proved unsound. That aid was the Buddhist priesthood.
Kiyomori had offended the great monasteries by bestowing special
favour on the insignificant shrine of Itsukushima-Myojin. A
revelation received in a dream having persuaded him that his fortunes
were intimately connected with this shrine, he not only rebuilt it on
a scale of much magnificence, but also persuaded Go-Shirakawa to
make three solemn progresses thither. This partiality reached its
acme at the time of Takakura's abdication (1180), for instead of
complying with the custom hitherto observed on such occasions--the
custom of worshipping at one or more shrines of the three
great monasteries--Enryaku (Hiei-zan), Kofuku (Nara), or Onjo
(Miidera)--Takakura, prompted by Kiyomori, proceeded to Itsukushima.*

*See Murdoch's History of Japan.

A monster demonstration on the part of the offended monasteries was
temporarily quieted, but deep umbrage rankled in the bosoms of the
priests, and Yorimasa counted on their co-operation with his
insurrection. He forgot, however, that no bond could be trusted to
hold them permanently together in the face of their habitual rivalry,
and it was here that his scheme ultimately broke down. At an early
stage, some vague news of the plot reached Kiyomori's ears and he
hastened from his Fukuhara villa to Kyoto. But it soon became evident
that his information was incomplete. He knew, indeed, that Prince
Mochihito was involved, but he suspected Go-Shirakawa also, and he
entertained no conception of Yorimasa's complicity.



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