Fujiwara no Teishi

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Fujiwara no Teishi
Empress consort of Japan
TenureOctober 26, 990 – January 13, 1001
DiedJanuary 13, 1001(1001-01-13) (aged 23–24)
Spouse Emperor Ichijō
  • Princess Shushi
  • Prince Atsuyasu
  • Princess Bishi
House Yamato
Father Fujiwara no Michitaka
Mother Takashina no Kishi

Fujiwara no Teishi (藤原 定子, 977 – January 13, 1001), also known as Sadako, [1] was an empress consort of the Japanese Emperor Ichijō. She appears in the literary classic The Pillow Book written by her court lady Sei Shōnagon.


Teishi was born to be the empress. Her father, Fujiwara no Michitaka was the regent and most powerful politician at that time. Her mother, Takashina no Takako was a famous poet and lady-in waiting for Empress Junshi. So when she was around 12, she joined to the court and become the consort of Emperor Ichijo. Soon she was elevated as empress, which means she was the role model and example to all Japanese women.

As empress, she has a cultural salon with poets, like Sei Shonagon and Uma no Naishi. She really liked Shonagon for her experience, talent and character. The Pillow Book, which is one of the most important literal source from the Heian Period is about that time, when Shonagon was a lady-in-waiting for Teishi. Shonagon describe her beauty and her grief, after Michitaka, the father of Teishi dies. After that, Teishi was put aside by her uncle, Fujiwara no Michinaga, who brought her own daughter to court, Fujiwara no Shoshi, who became nyogo (imperial consort of the emperor) and later empress, so at that time there were two empresses at once which lead to rivalry between the cousins. This time was a humiliation for Teishi, because she lost her political support, altought she had a son, Imperial Prince Atsuyasu, but she eventually lost her supporters over Shoshi.

She died in childbirth around 1001, leaving behind a daughter, Imperial Princess Bishi. Her son could not become emperor and died in despair, her first daughter, Imperial Princess Shushi, lived a long life, but stayed childless, altought she was respected member of the imperial family. After Teishi’s death, the emperor and the Empress Dowager was deeply sad, but Shoshi became the one and only empress consort and the mother of two emperors.


She was the first daughter of Fujiwara no Michitaka (藤原道隆). [1] She was arranged to marry the Emperor upon the ceremony of his age of majority. She was given the title of Empress, her father was formally appointed regent to the Emperor, and her sister was later married to the Emperor's cousin and Crown Prince.

Empress Teishi hosted a literary and cultural court, and Sei Shōnagon was appointed her lady-in-waiting. In 995, a series of events unfolded which deteriorated her position. Her father died and was succeeded as regent by his rival, her uncle Fujiwara no Michinaga, and her brothers were exiled from court. The regent her uncle made his daughter Fujiwara no Shōshi the second consort of the Emperor, and secured the title Empress for her as well: for the first time in Japan, the Emperor had two Empresses, Teishi with the title Kōgō and Shōshi with the title Chūgū. This created fierce rivalry between the two Empresses and her last four years was described as a period of humiliation for her. [2]

She became a Buddhist nun soon after Emperor Kazan ordained.

Fujiwara no Teishi died in childbirth.



  1. 1 2 "Sadako (r. 976–1001)". Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Gale. 2002. Archived from the original on 2016-03-13.
  2. Gergana Ivanova, Unbinding The Pillow Book: The Many Lives of a Japanese Classic
Japanese royalty
Preceded by
Fujiwara no Junshi
Empress consort of Japan
Succeeded by
Fujiwara no Shōshi

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