Kamon (family) (家門)

Family, clan
It means a kinship group connected by their common bloodline or genealogy. Refer to Clan.

This is the term that refers to specific kinship groups in Western history. It translates to Geschlecht in German.
(To be discussed below)

In the context of Japanese history, this term refers to a kinship group formed on the basis of various factors comprising a 'family' of court nobles and by the headman of the family who reigned in his family, as well as his own family.

In Japanese history, this term referred to kinship groups of the shoguns of the Edo bakufu. It referred to shinpan, except for gosanke (three privileged branches) and gosankyo (three privileged branches of the Tokugawa family). Refer to Gokamon.

A kamon (family) (in German, Geschlecht) refers to a kinship group based on the male direct line in historical science. A kamon (family) is usually a male group that has a pedigree record and history dating to a distant past and is clearly conscious of its bloodline. In establishing a kamon (family), a deed that can be considered a historical incident is necessary: ascension to the throne, obtaining a government post or a certain mastermanship, or a territorial land or building such as a castle or a manor. So, apart from its blood relationship, a kamon (family) has an anchorage other than a human element, such as territorial land, a government position or a court rank. Although in the early medieval ages a kamon (family) was usually limited only to the direct male line, during the prime of the medieval ages a kamon (family) would include several families.

Historical Development
Families of aristocracy based on the male lines emerged at the end of Carolingians. This was the result of government positions and fiefdom being assumed on the basis of heredity; families of grand dukes, Markgraf and counts were formed. In the world of noblemen, a family formation developed based on government positions, court ranks and territorial lands; during the prime of the medieval ages, families were formed among lower-ranking nobles and the ruling class in cities. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, many families were formed with the establishment of castles; the names of the families that formed during this period were derived from their territorial lands or castles.

Churches and monasteries were established as means to unite each family, which would in turn own its patrimonial bailiwick and entrust it to the oldest person in the family.

Representative families
Before Carolingians
The house of Amar (Eastern Goths)
The house of Agilolfinger (Bayern)
アギロールフィング家 (Bayern)
After Carolingians
The house of Wettin
The house of Hapsburg
The house of Hohenstaufen
The house of Hohenzollern

The role in the medieval state
During the medieval ages, people vaguely thought that not only personal assets but also genealogical assets were necessary in order to accomplish great deeds. The authority of bloodline is thought to have been based on the concept of the presbyter-sovereignty of ancient Germany.

By the end of the eleventh century they had started to claim that the ability to heal the king's evil (scrofula) was the privilege of the French Crown; a similar idea was formed in England under the Norman dynasty. It is referred to 'a king as a healer' or 'a king's healing miracle,' but its relationship with the presbyter-sovereignty of ancient Germany isn't clear.

Such mystical and religious power, passed down through certain families, is known academically as the divine right of kings (Königsheil in German) or a power ordained by God (Geblütsheil in German).

Families in Japanese court nobles' society
In a 'family' in the court nobles' society of medieval Japan, the following two factors were important to support the existence of the family: its territory, which constituted the economic base; and the family, which could be called its social base.

The term for family in the Medieval Age referred to a kinship group that was mainly composed of the family head who owned the family estate and the family business, trade, record (diary), their house, temple and tools under his reign (control), as well as his wife and children, who were the joint owners; the family itself, as well as the family estate, was succeeded to the descendents.

Although until the first stage of the Kamakura period new 'families' were produced as their young people established branch families, in the latter stage making new branch families became difficult due to economic factors and so forth; various suits arose, including ones between a legitimate child and a child born out of wedlock in regard to the succession of existing estates.

When Emperor Godaigo started the Kemmu Restoration, in order to solve such problems he made the following policy to stabilize the family estate as well: in transferring the family reign, which had the authority to control the family, the family estate was included as an inevitable factor for keeping the family, although originally the estate wasn't associated with the reign. The policy was carried forth in the North Court (Japan), which was established after the fall of Kemmu Restoration; when a family head, a legitimate son or an adopted child inherited the family estate, or when a new chiten no kimi (the retired Emperor who organized politics) appeared, the family reign and estate were approved as a whole; consequently, the 'family' itself, including the headman's estate, was stabilized. For the noble families of the court, this led to the single succession of an estate; moreover, it expanded the authority of the chiten no kimi, who had the power to stabilize a 'family' and thereby control the court nobles.

Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, the third Muromachi shogun, became Grand Minister with the political authority of a chiten no kimi; after the Eitoku period, he independently approved families and their estates en bloc, and exercised control over the court nobles. After his death, the emperors regained the authority to approve families, but since there was no military force in the court nobles' society it was impossible to maintain family estates without depending on the military force of the Muromachi bakufu or the Shugo (Military Governor) Daimyo; thus the cooperative system in which emperors approved of the names of families and shoguns literally approved of family estates continued for a long time. Additionally, the emperor's function of giving approval to families continued after the period of civil war (in Japan), as did the function of checking on court nobles (those going down to the provinces) who had neglected their services to the Emperor in Kyoto (including public duties).