The Matsudono Family (松殿家)

The Matsudono Family, established as a house of Regents and Senior Regents was, in theory, ranked at the same level as the houses of Regents such as the Konoe family and the Kujo family in the Court nobility. The name comes from a residence called Matsudono, a pine palace built in Kyoto by the founder of the house, Motofusa MATSUDONO, who was the second son of Fujiwara no Tadamichi, and a direct descendant of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan. The phrase "in theory" was inserted above for a reason. Despite being direct descendants of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan, the family only provided two Regents - subsequent generation getting no further than Councilor or, at best, Dainagon (chief councilor of state) - and was quickly discontinued in the Warring States period (Japan).

The era of Motofusa MATSUDONO, Moroie MATSUDONO, and Takatada (MATSUDONO)

When Motofusa MATSUDONO, the founder of the house, was the Senior Regent of the Emperor Takakura in 1179, the conflict between the retired Emperor Shirakawa and Taira no Kiyomori reached its peak with Taira no Kiyomori imprisoning the retired Emperor and exiling his senior officials, whereafter Motofusa, who had become involved, was demoted to Dazai-no-Gonnosotsu, Deputy Governor of Dazaifu, and left, mired in disappointment, to become a priest at the age of 36. As his successor, Motofusa appointed not his eldest son, Fujiwara no Takatada (later to become the Minister of the Left), but Moroie MATSUDONO who was only eight years old on the basis that Moroie's maternal grandfather was the Grand Minister of State. Thereafter, when Yoshinaka KISO entered Kyoto, Motofusa offered him his daughter as a concubine. These efforts paid off and, in 1183, with the support of Yoshinaka, Moroie became a Regent taking up the post of Inner Minister, Chief of the To clan at the age of only 12. However, a few months later, Yoshinaka was defeated by Minamoto no Yoshitsune, and Moroie was dismissed. Moroie was subsequently unable to take an official post for close to half century, and spent his life in disappointment (he also failed in attempt to adopt his nephew, Dogen). Meanwhile, Takatada got promoted to Minister of the Left, a post which ranked above the post of Inner Minister formerly occupied by his younger brother, and served until 1211.

The descendants of Moroie and the conflict of the Northern and Southern Courts

Although during the generations of Moroie's brother and son, other members of the Matsudono family held the posts of Chief Councilor of State and Acting Chief Councilor of State, the stock of the house declined, and subsequent generations advanced no further than Deputy Chief Councilor of State and Councilor with a Senior Second Rank. During the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan), Tadatsugu MATSUDONO (Motofusa's great-great grandson) advanced to the post of Junior Chief Councilor of State, but drifted away to the Yoshino Court just as the family name was about to be restored. As a result, the family fortunes continued to decline, even after the unification of the Northern and Southern Courts.

The decline and the fall of the family

Tadatsugu's great-great grandson, Tadaaki MATSUDONO was promoted to the Junior Third Rank in 1508, and later to the Senior Third Rank as a Councilor, and Tadaaki's son, Ietoyo MATSUDONO reached the Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade, but the genealogical record ceases thereafter, suggesting that the family was discontinued during the Warring States period.

The repeated restoration and fall of the family

At the beginning of the Edo period, there was a movement to restore the Matsudono family. Granted a fief with a yield 1,000 koku of rice by the Court, Michimoto MATSUDONO, the third son of Yukiie KUJO, restored the Matsudono family and was promoted to Junior Third Rank in 1642, but his family was discontinued in a single generation; Tadataka MATSUDONO, the second son of Naozane KUJO, restored the Matsudono family again in 1765 and reached Junior Third Rank two years later, but this family was also discontinued in a single generation. In the Meiji era, the house of Matsuzono and the house of Tsurudono were established.