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Thread: Fujiwara in Gempei War

  1. #1
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    Could someone please kindly tell me who was the Fujiwara clan daimyo during the famous Gempei War? Any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Also, who was the Hojo daimyo during the Gempei War?

    Thanks very much!


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  2. #2
    Southpaw Samurai Member Ii Naomasa's Avatar
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    Oct 2000
    Twin Cities, MN, USA


    My familiarity with the Fujiwara clan in the 12th century is sorely lacking, unfortunately, so off the top of my head I cannot answer your first question . If FWSeal-dono doesn't answer it first, I shall do some research this evening. The biggest problem is that many of the larger families were huge and spread out and leaders aren't always obvious. For example, prior to the 1180's (and post 1160), asking who was in the daimyo of the Minamoto clan would've resulted in a number of different responses, as the family had been spread out, both in terms of physical distance and intra-clan relationships.

    The Fujiwara were also an extremely large family. There was a sizeable faction of them in the capital (where they often handled the Emperor like a puppet until the mid-12th century or so), plus there were branches that had settled across Japan. The local leader of a major faction in the northeast section of Japan was one Fujiwara Hidehira. I would daresay that by the time of the Genpei War, his family was the most potent branch of the Fujiwara, although FWSeal-dono probably knows the relations within the Fujiwara better than I (my familiarity with the Fujiwara is mainly through the Hidehara’s family, because of their close ties to Minamoto Yoshitsune, whom Hidehara all but adopted). Hidehara’s land and power were strong enough that Minamoto Yoritomo took advantage of the family’s in-fighting when Hidehara died (partially over Yoshitsune’s, presence in their lands and the rewards Yoritomo promised for his head) to subjugate them.

    While I’m not entirely positive, I believe Hojo Tokimasa was considered the head of the Hojo family in the Genpei War (if not then, his relationship with Yoritomo made him so afterwards). Tokimasa was noted for being the lord that Taira Kiyomori exiled the young Minamoto Yoritomo to live with. Tokimasa had been a Taira supporter in the past, but was starting to come around to many of the ideals that the young Minamoto lord also shared. Yoritomo became less a prisoner and more a guest. Despite misgivings, Tokimasa eventually even allowed Yoritomo to marry his own daughter, Masako. This was the beginning of the Hojo’s rise to power, as Masako as wife and mother and Tokimasa as maternal grandfather, held quite a bit of sway in the Minamoto family, especially when Yoritomo died. The events that occurred during such are very interesting and are worthy of a post themselves.

    Just to clarify for those not already familiar with the period, the Hojo of the 12th century have nothing to do with the Hojo of the 15th and 16th centuries aside from relations that, if even true, would be extremely thin.
    Naomasa Ii
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  3. #3
    Member Member Yoshitsune's Avatar
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    Mar 2001
    London, Britain


    The situation in the 'early' samurai period is probably not as clear cut as the Sengoku-jidai. For a start, the term 'daimyo' had a far looser application during the 12th Century, simply meaning 'great name' and was not any sort of official rank. One passage in the Heike Monogatari defines 'daimyo' as a chieftain who could muster at least 500 warriors. More numerous at this time were the 'shomyo' ('little name'); chieftains with fewer than 500 troops.

    Secondly, except for one or two exceptions, clans in the 12th Century did not control whole provinces as virtually their own private domains like they did later. The provinces of the rich Kanto region in particular each contained many prominent 12thC clans. Musashi province, for example, was home to the Kumagai, Hatakeyama, Inomata, Kodama, Noyo, Tane, Kisai, Toshima, Nishi, Yokoyama and Murayama warrior bands. For mutual defence, related clans often formed warrior leagues or 'to' (accent over the 'o') like the 'Seven Bands of Musashi'.

    Often the most powerful clan chieftain in a province would be named governor by Heian-Kyo but it was equally likely to be an absentee courtier in which case the deputy governor was usually a local chieftain. Governorship gave control of the provincial HQ which could be useful for conscripting extra troops in time of war but the powers were largely nominal only; all military action had to be santioned by the Imperial government. In time it was to prove the guy with the most troops and best generalship that held sway rather than who held governor rank. Rather than the province being the seat of a clan's power at this time, it was their home town. Here they would build their fortified mansion which served as HQ and place of refuge for surrounding villages in time of war.

    I mentioned exceptions. One of these was actually the military Fujiwara branch that controlled Mutsu and Dewa (collectively known as 'Oshu'). Through military service against the Emishi and notable rebels in these extreme northern provinces this clan gained many tax concessions and privileges in their governorship. They also made strong marriage ties with other powerful northern clans and thus were able to rule Oshu almost like a private kingdom.

    At the time of Genpei, Fujiwara Hidehira was indeed the clan chieftain here. He also held the title of 'Chinjufu-Shogun' which had become almost hereditary, being held by his father and grandfather. When Minamoto Yoritomo became Sei-tai-shogun he suppressed the Fujiwara title.

    The military Fujiwara branch of Oshu by the time of Genpei were only distantly related to the noble courtiers in Heian-Kyo. In fact this branch had been known by the surname Kiyowara for several generations until Hidehira's grandfather (Kiyohira) changed it to Fujiwara. He claimed descent in the 7th degree from the first of the minor Fujiwara to leave the capital to take a military post; Fujiwara Hidesato (10th Century). Hidesato is seen as the progenitor of what historians call the 'Hidesato-ryu' or 'bando Fujiwara'. These were all the military offshoots of this clan that took root in east and north Japan. Most took other surnames - usually the name of their base town like the Kiyowara. Others include the Utsunomiya, Nasu, Sato, Otomo and Oyama. If the Oshu Fujiwara had lasted a few more generations one could perhaps see them taking the name of their splendid home city of Hiraizumi as their surname. Hiraizumi rivalled even Kyoto itself as a cultural centre full of the most ornate temples constructed of the finest woods, encrusted with gold and silver such as the centrepiece; the Chuson-ji Temple.

    Anyway, sorry, that was probably more than you wanted to know


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