Soma-mikuriya (private estate of Soma ranch) (相馬御厨)

Soma-mikuriya was one of the medieval shoen (manor in medieval Japan) holdings of the commendation type in areas that are today's Toride City and Moriya City, Ibaraki Prefecture, and Kashiwa City, Nagareyama City, and Abiko City, Chiba Prefecture. The term 'mikuriya' refers to a territorial land of the Imperial Family, the Ise-jingu Shrine, or the Shimogamo-jinja Shrine. Soma-mikuriya was a shoen of the Ise-jingu Shrine.


Soma-mikuriya, which was established by Tsuneshige CHIBA, was donated to the Ise-jingu Shrine but threatened by FUJIWARA no Chikamichi and MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo. Tsunetane CHIBA recaptured Soma-mikuriya and donated it again to the Ise-jingu Shrine, but when the Heike government took over the regime, it was captured by Yoshimune SATAKE. To recapture Soma-mikuriya, Tsunetane CHIBA used MINAMOTO no Yoritomo. The battle over Soma-mikuriya served as one of the driving forces for the Jisho-Juei War.

Soma-mikuriya is often raised as an exemplary case of: bitter struggles with kokushi (provincial governors) and mokudai (deputy kokushi, or a deputy provincial governor) during the transformation of local officials to local lords; donation by the local lord classes to defend their vulnerable positions; and the limits of the protection by donation, which led to the establishment of the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

Establishment of Soma-mikuriya

In July 1124, TAIRA no Tsuneshige (hereinafter "Tsuneshige CHIBA"), who was a founder of the Chiba clan, was adopted by his uncle Goro SOMA, TAIRA no Tsuneharu and given the Soma county, Shimosa Province, and in November 1124, he became Soma gunji (district managers of the Soma county). Six years later, he donated his shoryo (territory) 'Fuse-go village, Soma county' to the Ise-jingu Shrine on July 24, 1130, and became a local official to manage it.

Details of the donation are as follows. Donated to the Ise-jingu Shrine were 'profits from use of the land,' (about 27 liters per a tan [an old unit indicating an area of land, which is 991.7 square meters] of a rice paddy and about nine liters per a tan of a field of crops other than rice, which are significantly high rates for that time), and 'local products,' (100 Japanese pheasants and 30.03 meters of salted salmon). Nobuaki ARAKIDA, a mediator Shinto priest (corresponding to ryoke [a lord of the manor]) took half of the donation, and the other half was taken in the form of an offering of money for festivals by the top negi ([one comprehensive term for shrine priests]; corresponding to the honke [head family]) Motochika. Sani (courtier without post) MINAMOTO no Tomosada, who acted as a mediator in the local land, was appointed to 'azukari-dokoro' (a deputy of shoen). When becoming the local official, Tsuneshige was permitted a privilege of taking 'kajishi' (land rent) of fields of rice and other crops as a 'landlord,' and the position of the local official and the privilege of Tsuneshige was to be inherited by his descendants. This Mikuriya was officially permitted in September 1130 by an official notice from the Shimosa no kami (provincial governor of Shimosa Province), FUJIWARA no Chikamichi.

Interference by the Shimosa no kami, FUJIWARA no Chikamichi

The foregoing was supposed to ensure the territorial right of the Chiba clan over the 'Fuse-go village, Soma county,' which roughly corresponds to today's Kitasoma-gun, Ibaraki Prefecture. However, on August 21, 1136, Shimosa no kami, FUJIWARA no Chikamichi arrested Tsuneshige and confined him, for the reason that kanmotsu (tribute goods paid as taxes or tithes) from koden (field administered directly by a ruler) of the Soma county was not paid to the national treasury. It is unknown for how many years the unpaid tributes were, but it is said to be probably retrospective (it should be noted, however, that there is an aspect that the enclosure of the estate cannot be simply judged as good or bad). Chikamichi compelled Tsuneshige and acquired a deed stating that in place of kanmotsu, the Soma-go and Tachibana-go villages were offered to Chikamichi, thereby making the villages his private land.

Intervention by MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo and counterattack by Tsunetane CHIBA

It was MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo, the father of Yoritomo, who intervened in 1143. Yoshitomo, who was at the Kazusa no suke (Assistant Governor of Kazusa Province) Tsunezumi's place in Kazusa Province at the time, compelled Tsuneshige and acquired an eviction notice, or a letter of transfer, for the Soma-gun village, or Soma-go village, using a 'groundless rumor' of Kazusa no suke Tsunezumi. In April 1145, which was the year after 'the disturbance in the Obamikuriya estate,' Yoshitomo donated this Soma-go village to the Inner Shrine and the Outer Shrine of the Ise-jingu Shrine. The area of the village is believed to be almost the same as that donated by Tsuneshige in 1130. It is uncertain, however, what interests MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo and the Shimosa no kami FUJIWARA no Chikamichi, who compelled Tsuneshige to acquire a deed of the Soma-go village, had at that occasion, but Yasuo MOTOKI assumes that since the Shimosa no kami FUJIWARA no Chikamichi was in a position dependent of Sekkan-ke (the families which produced the regent and the chief adviser to the Emperor), he captured the mikuriya using the authority of his head master FUJIWARA no Tadazane.

Tsunetane CHIBA, a son of Tsuneshige, struggled to fight back against such a circumstance.

In May 1146, Tsunetane first paid the unpaid kanmotsu according to Shimosa no kokuga (local government of Shimosa), which was '30 hiki (one hiki is approx. 10.6m in length and approx. 34 cm in width) of high-quality silk cloths, 70 hiki of low-quality silk cloths, 12 ryo (an old unit of a weight) of clothes, 32 ryo of sakin (gold dust), 30 dan (an old unit of area) of high-quality printed textile dyed with various shades of indigo blue, 50 dan of high-quality medium-quality printed textile dyed with various shades of indigo blue, two horses, and 30 saddled horses,' and recovered '其時国司以常胤可令知行郡務' and the position of Soma gunji. Restitution of the Soma-go village to the Chiba clan was '且被裁免畢' and realized, but the Tachibana-go village was not brought back. The Tachibana-go village was located on the Pacific Ocean and far east from the Soma-go village and Chiba no sho (the private estate of the Chiba clan).

Having recovered the position of Soma gunji and the Soma-go village, Tsunetane donated the Soma-gun (presumably, Soma-go) village again to the Ise-jingu Shrine on September 24. A letter of the donation remains, which makes the circumstances during that occasion known to us today. Although the donation was already made by Yoshitomo in April 1145, Tsunetane offered money for festivals to the feudal lord Masatomi of the Ise priest family, a Shinto priest of the Ise-naiku (inner shrine), in accordance with 'a deed of father Tsuneshige,' and offered the Ise-jingu Shrine a deed stating that kajishi and the position of a local official to manage a shoen estate would be inherited by his children and descendants.

Shishi (the northern, southern, eastern, and western boundaries of a tract of land) of the donations of Yoshitomo and Tsunetane

Meanwhile, there is evidence that the 'Shishi' of that occasion was broader to the south than in the past.
While the east, the west, and the north remained almost the same as those in the past, 'the south boundary is Onogami-oji Street (a road from Hitachi Province).'
While the land donated in the past was around the Kitasoma-gun, Ibaraki Prefecture, the area was extended toward the Minamisoma-gun, Chiba Prefecture, which was presumed to be a broad region of 7 km in the east and the west and 20 km in the north and the south. Since the time when the position of gunji (de facto feudal rights) was captured by zuryo (the head of the provincial governors) and Shimosa no kami FUJIWARA no Chikamichi in 1136, Tsunetane and his family were likely to have struggled to develop the southern part. In any case, this shows the fact that donation of Soma-mikuriya by different persons occurred twice.

Thus, there is a point of view that Yoshitomo's action was 'mediation' in the conflict, but since a deed of donation that was prepared by Tsunetane CHIBA immediately thereafter stated '源義朝朝臣就于件常時男常澄之浮言,自常重之手,康治二年雖責取圧状之文,' it can be inferred that MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo was also an invader for Tsunetane CHIBA. In the article 'Kodaimakki no togoku ni okeru kaihatsuryoshu no ichi' (the Position of kaihatsu-ryoshu [local notables who actually developed the land] in Togoku [the eastern part of Japan, particularly the Kanto region] in the late ancient times) included in "Chibashi no kenkyu" (the Study of the Chiba clan) edited by Minoru NOGUCHI, Koichiro KURODA discusses that MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo was not toryo (head of the clan) at that stage, and that there is evidence that he attempted to capture the territory as a person of the same level. He also discusses that since the fact that MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo could donate Soma-mikuriya, it was not just a piece of paper and indicated a contract for the local collection of tax, and the donation could not have been made independently from the de facto land ruling. He further discusses that it should be understood that there was a de facto domination and an act and a deed for land to legally guarantee the domination.

It is unknown how Tsunetane CHIBA and MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo were settled thereafter, but Tsunetane CHIBA's name appears, together with Kazusa no suke Tsunezumi's son Hirotsune, in the Kanto forces led by MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo in the Hogen War. Thus, it is also possible to infer that Tsunetane CHIBA was affiliated with MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo in an attempt to maintain his territory.

Further, there was Kuro Tsunekiyo SOMA, who was a son of Kazusa no gon no suke (provisional assistant governor of Kazusa Province) Tsunezumi and a younger brother of Hirotsune KAZUSA, and there is a possibility that the old Soma-mikuriya (Kitasoma [northern Soma]), which was donated by MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo, and Minamisoma (southern Soma), which was added when Tsunetane CHIBA made the donation and included many regions with surnames of branch families of the Chiba clan, were separately dominated, and that Kazusa no gon no suke Tsunezumi's son Kuro Tsunekiyo SOMA administered MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo's regions of influence. For example, when Yoshimune SATAKE aggressively dominated the entire region of Soma-mikuriya later, he stated in "MINAMOTO no Yoshimune's letter of donation" that '常澄常胤等何故可成妨哉,是背法令,大非常之上,大謀叛人前下野守義朝朝臣年来郎従等 凡不可在王土者也,' indicating that Kazusa no suke Tsunezumi and Chiba no suke Tsunetane both rebelled.

Position of kaihatsu-ryoshu

These affairs provide evidence of changes of zaichokanjin to kaihatsu-ryoshu and fierce conflicts between kokushi and mokudai, especially the local lord class's destabilization and limitations. First, possession of a territory by kaihatsu-ryoshu was guaranteed by kokuga in association with the positions such as gunji and goji. However, since such possession was guaranteed in association with the positions such as gunji and goji, kokushi had a right to dismiss, which was in fact executed in the Soma-go village. Furthermore, other kaihatsu-ryoshu around the regions were watching for a chance.

In the early stage was Kazusa no suke Tsunezumi of the same family, followed by MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo. Based on the power of the Taira family, the Satake clan later took part in the scrambles. A donation of shoen was made to secure its stable state, and on this occasion, the area of the shoen was defined by inclusion of not only their regions of direct influence but also nearby public land cut off by about a village unit to increase the area. This is easy to understand if considered as an action to stabilize not only their original private land but also their domination and share as gunji.

However, it is obvious from these affairs of Soma-mikuriya, and also affairs of Oba no mikuriya (private estate of Oba ranch), such domination of shoen was not sufficient to ensure the guarantee. That indicates that honjo (proprietor or guarantor of manor) Ise-jingu Shrine could not always protect donators, or kaihatsu-ryoshu, who became their local official, and rather, it did not matter to them whether the position of the local official was held by MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo or Tsunetane CHIBA, as long as their share was guaranteed and, even more, increased.

Increased instability under the Heike government

The donation of Soma-mikuriya by Yoshimune SATAKE, who was on the side of the Taira family, thereafter indicates the increasing instability since the Heiji War. Yoshimune SATAKE's letter of donation dated February 1161 states as follows.


In fact, however, the land was not 'given to Yoshimune,' but was, again, captured by him.

The fact was that Yoshimune SATAKE obtained a deed that the former Shimosa no kami FUJIWARA no Chikamichi had, from Chikamichi's second son FUJIWARA no Chikamori, who was Shimosa no kami, and the donation was based on the deed. After learning this, Tsunetane expressed again in March 1161 to the Ise-jingu Shrine his willingness to donate the land. In view of the past history, it is considered that the deed was already invalidated in 1146, but it is also considered that since Chikamori's daughter was a concubine of TAIRA no Shigemori, the deed was presented in an expectation of support from the Taira family. This resulted in a conflict between the negi Akimori ARAKIDA, who was a member of the Masatomi family and a feudal lord on Tsunetane's side, and the negi Hikoaki WATARAI, who was a feudal lord on Yoshimune's side, in the Ise-jingu Shrine. Later, Yoshimune's donation of money for festivals to the Ise-jingu Shrine to fulfill the promise of the letter of donation was appreciated, and an imperial decree was issued in 1163 to approve Yoshimune's donation. Then, on July 23, 1166, Akimori submitted to Hikoaki a deed to accept Hikoaki's assertion, and a compromise deed was made on July 9, 1167 ("The Kunugi Documents," 'Compromise deed of Kotai-jingu Shrine Gonnegi [assistant senior priests] Akimori ARAKIDA dated July 9, 1167,' printed in "Heian ibun" [Documents of the Heian period], Vol. 7, No. 3425). At that time, a compromise indicated a consensus transfer of a right, such as territory or position, and there was doctrine that did not allow Kuikaeshi (a right of claim for return in the Middle Ages' Law) with respect to a consensus transfer of a right ("Hosso shiyosho" [The Essentials for the Judiciary]). Since the position of Hikoaki WATARAI, who was given all the rights from Akimori ARAKIDA by the compromise, was established, the winning of Yoshimune SATAKE, who was appointed as Hikoaki's local official, was determined.

The conflict between the Satake clan and the families of Chiba no suke and Kazusa no suke started there, and was solved when the families of Chiba no suke and Kazusa no suke joined MINAMOTO no Yoritomo's raising of an army in 1180, defeated the Taira family at the Battle of Fujigawa, and then attacked the Satake clan to put them to flight.

It is said that the reason why the families of Chiba no suke and Kazusa no suke joined Yoritomo was not because they were followers of the generations of the Genji family as stated in "Azuma Kagami" (The Mirror of the East); rather, they supported Yoritomo to fight back against the attacks by the Fujiwara clan of Shimosa, who was aligned with the Taira family, and the Satake clan of Hitachi in an attempt to recover their lost territories, which was a revival gamble.
It is obvious from the history of Soma-mikuriya that especially for Tsunetane CHIBA, MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo was not someone he felt 'obligated to.'