The Three-day War by the Taira Clan (Heian period) (三日平氏の乱 (平安時代))

The Three-day War by the Taira Clan was one of the domestic conflicts which occurred in the Jisho-Juei War during the late Heian period. The incident was an uprising from August to September of 1184 by the remnants of the Taira clan, who had been hiding in Iga Province or Ise Province since the Taira clan's flight from Kyoto in the previous year.

It was referred to as the 'Three-day War by the Taira Clan' in "Heike Monogatari" (The tale of the Heike), but it was the incident of Three-day War by the Taira Clan (Kamakura period) in 1204, 20 years later, which was really suppressed in three days and was originally called 'Three-day War by the Taira Clan,' while this rebellion by the Taira clan in 1184 was a major one.

Course of events

Even after the Taira clan escaped to Saigoku (the western part of Japan) in July 1183, men of the Taira clan lived over wide areas of both Iga and Ise Provinces, which had been their home territory, so Koreyoshi OUCHI was assigned as Ise shugo (military governor of Ise) and Saneharu OI, a vassal in Musashi Province, was dispatched to Ise to subdue the Taira clan and their retainers there in April 1184. When a rebellion headed by TAIRA no Ietsugu broke out around 8:00 PM of August 21, 1184, many of Koreyoshi's retainers were killed in the attack. At the same time, also in Ise, TAIRA no Nobukane and his followers blocked off Mt. Suzuka by cutting down trees and rose in revolt, which was said to upset the whole In ("Gyokuyo" (The Diary of Kanezane KUJO) the article of August 22, 1184).

The Kamakura army (government army) fought remnants of the Taira clan in Ohara no sho, Omi Province, on September 2. Ietsugu was defeated and his head put on public display, while TOMITA no Iesuke, Ieyoshi and Iekiyo Nyudo, who were Samurai Daishos (commander of warriors), were defeated and killed. TAIRA no Nobukane and FUJIWARA no Tadakiyo disappeared, covering their tracks. Although the rebellion was all but subdued, the Minamoto clan also suffered enormous damages, including the deaths in battle of Hideyoshi SASAKI, an old general, and as many as several hundred horsemen.

On September 16, taking the matter seriously, MINAMOTO no Yoritomo ordered MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune to find TAIRA no Nobukane, who was the dominant figure of the Taira clan.

On September 23, Nobukane's three sons, TAIRA no Kanehira, TAIRA no Nobuhira and TAIRA no Kanetoki, were summoned to Yoshitsune's residence in Kyoto and were put to the sword or forced to commit suicide. Two days after that, Yoshitsune sortied to put down Nobukane ("Sankaiki" (The Diary by Tadachika NAKAYAMA) the article of September 23). There is no record in the diaries written by nobles about the subsequent course of the battle, but according to "Genpei Seisui Ki" (Rise and Fall of the Minamoto and the Taira clans), after a fierce battle, about 100 horsemen on the Nobukane side that holed up in the castle of Takino, Ise Province were defeated and killed.

Yoshitsune was appointed as Saemon no shojo (Junior Lieutenant of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards), Kebiishi (officials with judicial and police powers) by the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa on September 19, while he was in the midst of putting down TAIRA no Nobukane.

A report from Yoshitsune stating that he had summoned Nobukane's three sons to his accommodation and killed them and that Nobukane had been dismissed from Dewa no kuni Kokushi (the governor of Dewa Province) reached Kamakura on October 9, and on October 22 a letter was sent out from Yoritomoto to put the land of Nobukane and the men of the Taira clan in Kyoto under Yoshitsune's control ("Azuma Kagami" (The Mirror of the East)).

FUJIWARA no Tadakiyo remained in hiding and continued to threaten the capital until the following year, 1185. After the Battle of Ichinotani, MINAMOTO no Noriyori and the main body of the Kamakura warriors had returned to the East, but on September 21, in the midst of this rebellion, Noriyori again left Kamakura and, on October 22, headed from Kyoto for Saikai (the provinces on the western seacoast) to search out and kill the Taira clan. The remnants of the Taira clan made the capital so fearful that Goshirakawain prevented Yoshitsune's sortie to Yashima in January of the following year to maintain security, and this perturbed situation was what caused the appointment of Yoshitsune to Kebiishi and Saemon no jo (Lieutenant of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards). According to recent studies, it is thought that Yoshitsune was dismissed from the army to search out and kill the Taira clan not because Yoritomo resented the appointment of Yoshitsune without his permission (as described in "Azuma Kagami," which was compiled in later years), but because Yoshitsune was needed to maintain the security of Kyoto and the Cloistered Emperor and nobles were strongly against it.

In addition, TAIRA no Nobukane and TAIRA no Ietsugu were samurai in the imperial capital who had collaborated to aid Yoshitsune's entrance to the capital for the purpose of defeating MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka. According to "Azuma Kagami," Nobukane's sons were responsible for the incident, but from the fact that they went to Yoshitsune's residence, they seem not to have been deeply involved in the rebellion. It is thought that Yoritomo's policy of excluding or subordinating the independent samurai in the imperial capital was the reason which underlay the hunt for Nobukane.