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Unformatted text preview: wo samurai houses from about the middle of the
The Taira benefited especially by an important political development
at court in the late eleventh century. During the last years of the regent
Yorimichi (990–1074), founder of the Byòdòin Temple at Uji, Fujiwara
power in Kyoto began to wane, and the first of a series of abdicated sovereigns arose to reassert the traditional claim of the imperial family to
rule in fact as well as in name. The abdicated sovereigns sought further
to weaken the Fujiwara monopoly of court government by engaging as
their aides and officials members of other houses, including samurai of
the Ise Taira. Under the patronage of the abdicated emperors, the Ise
Taira became the first noncourtiers to gain ceremonial admittance to the
imperial palace. They also received extensive grants in estate lands and
appointments to various provincial governorships in the western provinces of Honshu and in Kyushu.
Despite the assertiveness of the abdicated emperors, political conditions in Kyoto steadily deteriorated during the twelfth century. By midcentury, serious divisions had appeared within the Fujiwara and imperial families, and quarrelsome samurai of both the Taira and Minamoto
clans were gathering in ever greater numbers in Kyoto. In the 1150s, the
tranquility of the “flowery capital” was rudely shattered by two fierce
clashes of arms. The first of these, in 1156, found the Taira and Minamoto intermingled on both sides, but the second, in 1159, resulted in a
resounding victory of the Ise Taira over their archrivals and the inauguration of some twenty years of Taira ascendancy at court under the leadership of Kiyomori (1118–81).
The age of Ise Taira ascendancy was a transitional period in Japanese 80 The Advent of a New Age history. Although samurai warriors, the Taira attempted to follow in the
footsteps of the Fujiwara courtiers by marrying into the imperial family
and assuming many of the highest ministerial positions at court. In thus
devoting their attention to traditional court politics and ignoring the
pressing need for new administrative controls in the provinces, the Taira
directly contributed to their own downfall, which occurred in a climactic
renewal of struggle with the Minamoto from 1180 to 1185.4
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13