The emblem (mon) of the Minamoto clan
|Founder||Minamoto no Makoto|
Minamoto(源) was one of the surnames bestowed by the Emperors of Japan upon members of the imperial family who were excluded from the line of succession and demoted into the ranks of the nobility from 1192 to 1333. The practice was most prevalent during the Heian period (794–1185 AD), although its last occurrence was during the Sengoku period. The Taira were another such offshoot of the imperial dynasty, making both clans distant relatives. The Minamoto clan is also called the Genji(源氏), using the on'yomi reading for Minamoto.
The Imperial House of Japan, also referred to as the Imperial Family or the Yamato Dynasty, comprises those members of the extended family of the reigning Emperor of Japan who undertake official and public duties. Under the present Constitution of Japan, the Emperor is "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people". Other members of the Imperial Family perform ceremonial and social duties, but have no role in the affairs of government. The duties as an Emperor are passed down the line to their children.
The Heian period is the last division of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185. The period is named after the capital city of Heian-kyō, or modern Kyōto. It is the period in Japanese history when Buddhism, Taoism and other Chinese influences were at their height. The Heian period is also considered the peak of the Japanese imperial court and noted for its art, especially poetry and literature. Although the Imperial House of Japan had power on the surface, the real power was in the hands of the Fujiwara clan, a powerful aristocratic family who had intermarried with the imperial family. Many emperors actually had mothers from the Fujiwara family. Heian (平安) means "peace" in Japanese.
The Sengoku period is a period in Japanese history marked by social upheaval, political intrigue and near-constant military conflict. Japanese historians named it after the otherwise unrelated Warring States period in China. It was initiated by the Ōnin War, which collapsed the Japanese feudal system under the Ashikaga shogunate, and came to an end when the system was re-established under the Tokugawa shogunate by Tokugawa Ieyasu.
The Minamoto were one of four great clans that dominated Japanese politics during the Heian period — the other three were the Fujiwara, the Taira, and the Tachibana.
Fujiwara clan, descending from the Nakatomi clan and through them Ame-no-Koyane-no-Mikoto, was a powerful family of regents in Japan.
Taira clan was a major Japanese clan of samurai.
The first emperor to grant the surname Minamoto to his children was Emperor Saga, who reportedly had 49 children, resulting in a significant financial burden on the imperial household. In order to alleviate some of the pressure of supporting his unusually many offspring, he made many of his sons and daughters nobles instead of royals. He chose the word minamoto (meaning "origin") for their new surname in order to signify that the new clan shared the same origins as the royal family. Afterwards, Emperor Seiwa, Emperor Murakami, Emperor Uda, and Emperor Daigo, among others, also gave their non-heir sons or daughters the name Minamoto. These specific hereditary lines coming from different emperors developed into specific clans referred to by the emperor's name followed by Genji (e.g. Seiwa Genji). According to some sources, the first to be given the name Minamoto was Minamoto no Makoto, seventh son of Emperor Saga.
Emperor Saga was the 52nd emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Saga's reign spanned the years from 809 through 823.
Emperor Seiwa was the 56th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.
Emperor Murakami was the 62nd emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.
The most prominent of the several Minamoto families, the Seiwa Genji, descended from Minamoto no Tsunemoto (897–961), a grandson of Emperor Seiwa. Tsunemoto went to the provinces and became the founder of a major warrior dynasty. Minamoto no Mitsunaka (912–997) formed an alliance with the Fujiwara. Thereafter the Fujiwara frequently called upon the Minamoto to restore order in the capital, Heian-Kyō (modern Kyōto). 240–241:
The Seiwa Genji (清和源氏) is a line of the Japanese Minamoto clan that is descended from Emperor Seiwa, which is the most successful and powerful line of the clan. Many of the most famous Minamoto warriors, including Minamoto no Yoshiie, Minamoto no Yoritomo, the founder of the Kamakura shogunate; and Ashikaga Takauji, the founder of the Ashikaga shogunate, belonged to this line. Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543–1616), founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, also claimed descent from this lineage. The family is named after Emperor Seiwa, who was the grandfather of Minamoto no Tsunemoto who founded the Seiwa Genji. Emperor Seiwa was father of Imperial Prince Sadazumi (873–916), who was in turn the father of Minamoto no Tsunemoto (源経基) (894–961), founder of the Seiwa Genji, from whom the Seiwa Genji descended. Many samurai families belong to this line and used "Minamoto" clan name in official records, including the Ashikaga clan, Hatakeyama clan, Hosokawa clan, Imagawa clan, Mori, Nanbu clan, Nitta clan, Ogasawara clan, Ōta clan, Satake clan, Satomi clan, Shiba clan, Takeda clan, Toki clan, Tsuchiya clan, among others. The Shimazu clan served the Tsuchiya clan loyally for many years. The Shimazu and Tokugawa clans also claimed to belong to this line.
Minamoto no Tsunemoto was a samurai and Imperial Prince during Japan's Heian period, the progenitor of the Seiwa Genji branch of the Minamoto clan. He was the son of Sadazumi-shinnō and grandson of Emperor Seiwa. In his childhood, Tsunemoto was called Rokuson'o.
Minamoto no Mitsunaka, was born as Myoomaru (明王丸) son of Minamoto no Tsunemoto, was a samurai and Court official of Japan's Heian period. Mitsunaka belonged to the Seiwa Genji branch of the Minamoto clan, which traced its ancestry to Emperor Seiwa. He loyally served several successive Fujiwara regents beginning with Fujiwara no Morotada. There is debate among scholars as to his involvement in the Anna Plot of 969. All agree that Mitsunaka alleged that Minamoto no Takaakira was plotting against the Throne. However, whilst some believe that there was a genuine threat to the Throne, and that it was Mitsunaka's warning that prevented the plot from succeeding, others view the incident as one manufactured for political gain. Takaakira was Morotada's principal rival, and his being implicated in the plot removed him as a threat; the truthfulness of the accusations levelled against Takaakira is not known. In any case, the negative consequences for Takaakira put Mitsunaka firmly in Morotada's good graces. Later, Mitsunaka would assist Fujiwara no Kaneie in his plot to coerce Emperor Kazan into taking Buddhist vows and abdicating in favor of Fujiwara's seven-year-old grandson.
Mitsunaka's eldest son, Minamoto no Yorimitsu (948–1021), became the protégé of Fujiwara no Michinaga; another son, Minamoto no Yorinobu (968–1048) suppressed the rebellion of Taira no Tadatsune in 1032. Yorinobu's son, Minamoto no Yoriyoshi (988–1075), and grandson, Minamoto no Yoshiie (1039–1106), pacified most of northeastern Japan between 1051 and 1087.
Minamoto no Yorimitsu, also known as Minamoto no Raikō, served the regents of the Fujiwara clan along with his brother Yorinobu, taking the violent measures the Fujiwara were themselves unable to take. He is one of the earliest Minamoto of historical note for his military exploits, and is known for quelling the bandits of Ōeyama.
Fujiwara no Michinaga was a Japanese statesman. His rule was the zenith of the Fujiwara clan's control over Japan.
Minamoto no Yorinobu was a samurai commander and member of the powerful Minamoto clan. He was the son of Minamoto no Mitsunaka (912–997). Along with his brother Yorimitsu, Yorinobu served the regents of the Fujiwara clan, taking the violent measures the Fujiwara were themselves unable to take. He held the title, passed down from his father, of Chinjufu-shōgun, Commander-in-chief of the Defense of the North. He served as Governor of the Japanese Ise and Kai Provinces, and was the progenitor of the Kawachi Genji family line and his son, Minamoto no Yorisue, was ancestor of the Takanashi clan of Shinano Province.
The Seiwa Genji's fortunes declined in the Hōgen Rebellion (1156), when the Taira executed much of the line, including Minamoto no Tameyoshi. During the Heiji Disturbance (1160), the head of the Seiwa Genji, Minamoto no Yoshitomo, died in battle. 256–258 Taira no Kiyomori seized power in Kyoto by forging an alliance with the retired emperors Go-Shirakawa and Toba and infiltrating the kuge . He sent Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147–1199), the third son of Minamoto no Yoshimoto of the Seiwa Genji, into exile. In 1180 Yoritomo mounted a full-scale rebellion against the Taira rule (the Genpei or the Taira-Minamoto War), culminating in the destruction of the Taira and the subjugation of eastern Japan within five years. In 1192 he received the title shōgun and set up the first bakufu at Kamakura. :275,259–260, 289–305,331:
Minamoto no Tameyoshi was head of the Minamoto samurai clan during his lifetime, and grandson of Minamoto no Yoshiie; he led the Minamoto in the Hōgen Rebellion. Tameyoshi is also known as Mutsu Shirō.
Minamoto no Yoshitomo was the head of the Minamoto clan and a general of the late Heian period of Japanese history. His son Minamoto no Yoritomo became shōgun and founded the Kamakura shogunate, the first shogunate in the history of Japan.
Taira no Kiyomori was a military leader of the late Heian period of Japan. He established the first samurai-dominated administrative government in the history of Japan.
The later Ashikaga (founders of the Ashikaga shogunate), Nitta, and Takeda clans claim descent from the Seiwa Genji.
The protagonist of the classical Japanese novel The Tale of Genji , Hikaru Genji, was bestowed the name Minamoto for political reasons by his father the emperor and was delegated to civilian life and a career as an imperial officer.
The Genpei War is also the subject of the early Japanese epic The Tale of the Heike (Heike Monogatari).
Even within royalty there was a distinction between princes with the title shinnō(親王) ("[having the] ability to advance", i.e., eligible to become the new Emperor), who could ascend to the throne, and princes with the title ō(王) ("great" or "major"), who were not members of the line of imperial succession but nevertheless remained members of the royal class (and therefore outranked members of Minamoto clans). The bestowing of the Minamoto name on a (theretofore-)prince or his descendants excluded them from the royal class altogether, thereby operating as a reduction in legal and social rank even for ō-princes not previously in the line of succession.
Many later clans were formed by members of the Minamoto clan, and in many early cases, progenitors of these clans are known by either family name. There are also known monks of Minamoto descent; these are often noted in genealogies but did not carry the clan name (in favor of a dharma name).
There were 21 branches of the clan, each named after the emperor from whom it descended. Some of these lineages were populous, but a few produced no descendants.
The Saga Genji were descendants of Emperor Saga. As Saga had many children, many were bestowed the uji Minamoto, declassing them from imperial succession. Among his sons, Makoto, Tokiwa, and Tōru took the position of Minister of the Left ( sadaijin ); they were among the most powerful in the Imperial Court in the early Heian period. Some of Tōru's descendants in particular settled the provinces and formed buke . Clans such as the Watanabe, Matsuura, and Kamachi descended from the Saga Genji.
Noted Saga Genji and descendants include:
History records that at least three of Emperor Saga's daughters were also made Minamoto (Kiyohime, Sadahime, and Yoshihime), but few records concerning his daughters are known.
These were descendants of Emperor Ninmyō. His sons Masaru and Hikaru were udaijin. Among Hikaru's descendants was Minamoto no Atsushi, adoptive father of the Saga Genji's Tsuna and father of the Seiwa Genji's Mitsunaka's wife.
These were descendants of Emperor Montoku. Among them, Yoshiari was a sadaijin, and among his descendants were the Sakado clan who were Hokumen no Bushi.
These were descendants of Emperor Seiwa. The most numerous of them were those descended from Tsunemoto, son of Prince Sadazumi. Hachimantarō Yoshiie of the Kawachi Genji was a leader of a buke . His descendants set up the Kamakura shogunate, making his a prestigious pedigree claimed by many buke, particularly for the direct descendants in the Ashikaga clan (that set up the Ashikaga shogunate) and the rival Nitta clan. Centuries later, Tokugawa Ieyasu would claim descent from the Seiwa Genji by way of the Nitta clan.
These were descendants of Emperor Yōzei. While Tsunemoto is termed the ancestor of the Seiwa Genji, there is evidence (rediscovered in the late 19th century by Hoshino Hisashi) suggesting that he was actually the grandson of Yōzei rather than of Seiwa. This theory is not widely accepted as fact, but as Yōzei was deposed for reprehensible behavior, there would have been a compelling motive to claim descent from more auspicious origins if it were the case.
These were descendants of Emperor Kōkō. The great-grandson of his firstborn Prince Koretada, Kōshō, was the ancestor of a line of busshi , from which various styles of Buddhist sculpture emerged. Kōshō's grandson Kakujo established the Shichijō Bussho workshop.
These were descendants of Emperor Uda. Two sons of Prince Atsumi, Masanobu and Shigenobu became sadaijin . Masanobu's children in particular flourished, forming five dōjō houses as kuge , and as buke the Sasaki clan of the Ōmi Genji, and the Izumo Genji.
These were descendants of Emperor Daigo. His son Takaakira became a sadaijin , but his downfall came during the Anna incident. Takaakira's descendants include the Okamoto and Kawajiri clans. Daigo's grandson Hiromasa was a reputed musician.
These were descendants of Emperor Murakami. His grandson Morofusa was an udaijin and had many descendants, among them several houses of dōjō kuge . Until the Ashikaga clan took it during the Muromachi period, the title of Genji no Chōja always fell to one of Morofusa's progeny.
These were descendants of Emperor Reizei. Though they are included among the listing of 21 Genji lineages, no concrete record of the names of his descendants made Minamoto is known to survive.
These were descendants of Emperor Kazan. They became the dōjō Shirakawa family, which headed the Jingi-kan for centuries, responsible for the centralized aspects of Shinto.
These were descendants of Emperor Sanjō's son Prince Atsuakira. Starting with one of them, Michisue, the position of Ōkimi-no-kami (chief genealogist of the imperial family) in the Ministry of the Imperial Household was passed down hereditarily.
These were descendants of Emperor Go-Sanjō's son Prince Sukehito. Sukehito's son Arihito was a sadaijin . Minamoto no Yoritomo's vassal Tashiro Nobutsuna, who appears in the Tale of the Heike, was allegedly Arihito's grandson (according to the Genpei Jōsuiki).
This line consisted solely of Emperor Go-Shirakawa son Mochihito-ō (Takakura-no-Miya). As part of the succession dispute that led to the opening hostilities of the Genpei War, he was declassed (renamed "Minamoto no Mochimitsu") and exiled.
These were descendants of Emperor Juntoku's sons Tadanari-ō and Prince Yoshimune. The latter's grandson Yoshinari rose to sadaijin with the help of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu.
This line consisted solely of Emperor Go-Saga's grandson Prince Koreyasu. Koreyasu-ō was installed as a puppet shōgun (the seventh of the Kamakura shogunate) at a young age, and was renamed "Minamoto no Koreyasu" a few years later. After he was deposed, he regained royal status, and became a monk soon after, thereby losing the Minamoto name.
These were descendants of Emperor Go-Fusakusa's son Prince Hisaaki (the eighth shōgun of the Kamakura shogunate). Hisaaki's sons Prince Morikuni (the next shōgun) and Prince Hisayoshi were made Minamoto. Hisayoshi's adopted "nephew" (actually Nijō Michihira's son) Muneaki became a gon-dainagon (acting dainagon ).
These were non-royal descendants of Emperor Ōgimachi. At first they were buke , but they later became dōjō-ke , the Hirohata family.
The Kamakura shogunate was a Japanese feudal military government of imperial-aristocratic rule that ruled from 1185 to 1333. The heads of the government were the shōguns. The first three were members of the Minamoto clan. The next two were members of the Fujiwara clan. The last six were minor Imperial princes.
Minamoto no Yoritomo was the founder and the first shōgun of the Kamakura shogunate of Japan. He ruled from 1192 until 1199. His Buddhist name was Bukōshōgendaizenmon (武皇嘯原大禅門).
The Hosokawa clan was a Japanese samurai kin group or clan.
The Genpei War (1180–1185) was a national civil war between the Taira and Minamoto clans during the late-Heian period of Japan. It resulted in the downfall of the Taira and the establishment of the Kamakura shogunate under Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1192.
The Hatakeyama clan was a Japanese samurai clan. Originally a branch of the Taira clan and descended from Taira no Takamochi, they fell victim to political intrigue in 1205, when Hatakeyama Shigeyasu, first, and his father Shigetada later were killed in battle by Hōjō forces in Kamakura. After 1205 the Hatakeyama came to be descendants of the Ashikaga clan, who were in turn descended from Emperor Seiwa (850–880) and the Seiwa Genji branch of the Minamoto clan.
The Nitta clan was one of several major families descended from the Seiwa Genji, and numbered among the chief enemies of the Hōjō clan regents, and later the Ashikaga shogunate. The common ancestor of the Nitta, Minamoto no Yoshishige, was the elder brother of Minamoto no Yoshiyasu, the common ancestor of the Ashikaga clan. Yoshishige was the a landowner in the Nitta District of Kōzuke Province in present-day Gunma Prefecture. Yoshishige supported Minamoto no Yoritomo in the Battle of Ishibashiyama of 1180 against the Taira clan.
This is the glossary of Japanese history including the major terms, titles and events the casual reader might find useful in understanding articles on the subject.
The Hachisuka clan are descendants of Emperor Seiwa (850-880) and are a branch of the Ashikaga clan and the Shiba clan.
Sasaki clan are a historical Japanese clan.
The Kawachi Genji (河内源氏) were members of a family line within that of the Seiwa Genji, which in turn was one of several branches of the Minamoto clan, one of the most famous noble clans in Japanese history. Descended from Minamoto no Yorinobu (968–1048), the Kawachi Genji included Minamoto no Yoshiie (1041–1108), who fought in the Zenkunen War and Gosannen War, and common ancestor of nearly all the major Minamoto generals of the Genpei War from which the Minamoto are famous.
Ashikaga Yoshikane was a Japanese samurai military commander, feudal lord in the late Heian and early Kamakura period of Japan's history. He played an active part in the Jishō-Juei War and the later military campaign as a closely related person of the first Kamakura shōgun Minamoto no Yoritomo, and made Ashikaga clan influential position in gokenin vassal of the Kamakura shogunate.
The Toki clan is a Japanese kin group.
The Ashikaga clan was a branch family of the Japanese Fujiwara clan of court nobles, more specifically Fujiwara no Hidesato of the Northern Fujiwara branch. The clan was a powerful force in the Kantō region during the Heian period (794-1185). It bore no direct relation to the samurai Ashikaga clan which ruled Japan under the Ashikaga shogunate from 1333 to 1587 and which was descended from the Minamoto clan.
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