Nijo Ieko (二条舎子)
Ieko NIJO (October 9, 1716 - March 14, 1790) was Emperor Sakuramachi's nyogo (a high-ranking lady in the court - a consort of the emperor) and the mother of Empress Gosakuramachi. She later became empress dowager. Her nyoingo (title of respect given to close female relatives of the Emperor or a woman of comparable standing) was Seikimonin.
Ieko NIJO is the second daughter of Yoshitada NIJO, Kanpaku sadaijin (imperial regent and minister of the left). Her mother is Toshiko MAEDA, the lawful wife of her father, and a daughter of Tsunanori MAEDA, the lord of the domain of Kaga. Her sister by the same mother is Atsuko NIJO, the wife of Imperial Prince Arisugawanomiya Yorihito, and her brother by a different mother is Munehiro NIJO, udaijin (minister of the right).
Ieko NIJO entered into court as the wife of Imperial Prince Teruhito (later Emperor Sakuramachi) who was four years younger than her. Two years later, when Emperor Nakamikado abdicated the throne and Emperor Teruhito was enthroned, Ieko NIJO was given the title of nyogo by Imperial order.
Later, she gave birth to the first princess, Imperial Princess Seishi in 1737 and the second princess, Imperial Princess Toshiko (later Empress Gosakuramachi) in 1740. In 1745, she adopted Imperial Prince Tohito (later Emperor Momozono), a birth child of Sadako ANEGAKOJI, naishi no suke (a court lady of the first rank), because she did not give birth to a baby boy.
In 1747, when Emperor Sakuramachi abdicated the throne to Imperial Prince Tohito, Ieko was formally decided to be the Empress Dowager. Emperor Momozono was enthroned at the age of just seven and thus the retired Emperor Sakuramachi ruled the country, but the retired Emperor Sakuramachi died in 1750, just three years after the enthronement. Empress Dowager Ieko took the tonsure and entered the priesthood after receiving the title of nyoingo by Imperial order.
In 1762, Emperor Momozono died at the age of just twenty-two. As the Emperor's own child, Imperial Prince Hidehito (later Emperor Gomomozono), was just five years old at that time, the heads of the line of regents and advisers (advisors) consulted together and decided that Imperial Princess Toshiko, the late Emperor's half sister and Ieko's own child, should be enthroned as an interim emperor until Imperial Prince Hidehito becomes older. Accordingly, Empress Gosakuramachi, a female emperess, was enthroned for the first time in 119 years after Emperor Meisho.
In 1771, Empress Gosakuramachi abdicated the throne to Imperial Prince Hidehito, thereby Emperor Gomomozono was enthroned, but he also died at the age of twenty-two in 1779 after his father Emperor Momozono. Since Emperor Gomomozono left only one princess, Imperial Princess Yoshiko, who was just born in the same year, the imperial line of Emperor Nakamikado became extinct. Prince Morohito from the Kaninnomiya family, a collateral line, was enthroned as the next emperor, Emperor Kokaku.
It is worthy to note that she was an empress dowager and nyoin (a close female relative of the Emperor or a woman of comparable standing) during four successive reigns of emperors, the era of a young emperor and empress. Late in life, she was called 'Dainyoin' relative to Kaimeimonin (Sadako ANEGAKOJI), the mother of Emperor Momozono, or Kyoraimonin (Tomiko ICHIJO), the mother of Emperor Gomomozono.