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The fighting between taira and minamoto that led to

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Unformatted text preview: ll is one of the earliest pictorial records we have of the samurai, their mounts, armor, weapons, and methods of fighting. There will be occasion in the next chapter to comment on one or two more emaki as they appear in the development of medieval culture. Fig. 30 “Burning of the Sanjò Palace”: a scene from the Heiji Scroll depicting fighting between the Minamoto and Taira in 1159 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) 5 The Canons of Medieval Taste The chieftain who emerged during the course of the Minamoto-Taira War of 1180–85 as the supreme commander of Minamoto forces was Yoritomo (1147–99). Unlike Kiyomori, the Taira leader who died in 1181, the second year of the war, Yoritomo deliberately avoided entanglement in court politics in Kyoto. Instead, he remained at Kamakura, his base in the Kantò, throughout the war, treating the pursuit and destruction of the Ise Taira as secondary to the establishment of control over the eastern heartland of samurai society. The government that Yoritomo founded at Kamakura is known in English as the shogunate, after the title of shogun (“generalissimo”) that the Minamoto chieftain received from the imperial court. Creation of this exclusively military organization marked the beginning of the medieval era of Japanese history, an era that lasted until the commencement of early modern times at the end of the sixteenth century. There is no question that the Kamakura shogunate represented a radically new form of government in Japan, situated far from the traditional seat of courtier authority in the central provinces and staffed by warriors who were related by feudal ties of personal loyalties. Yet the shogunate was in no sense a rebel regime; on the contrary, it was founded and operated in an entirely “legitimate” fashion. Yoritomo, who remained ever deferential in his formal dealings with the court, was careful to secure imperial sanctification both for his own position and for the important administrative acts of the new shogunate, such as the expansion of its power to the national level through the appointm...
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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 UBC.

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