Fujiwara no Michitaka (藤原道隆)

FUJIWARA no Michitaka (953 - May 17, 995) was a court noble in the mid-Heian period. He was the first son of FUJIWARA no Kaneie. He held the rank of Juichii (Junior First Rank) and served as sessho (regent), kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor), and naidaijin (Minister of the Center). He was called Naka no Kanpaku (literally, middle kanpaku).

In the plot to dethrone Emperor Kazan, Michitaka took an active part in the Imperial Court under his father Kaneie's instructions. After his nephew, Emperor Ichijo, ascended the throne, he was rapidly promoted. He had his daughter Teishi make an Imperial Consort's bridal entry into court as nyogo (high rank lady serving at court), and she later became chugu (the second consort of an emperor). When his father Kaneie died, he succeeded to kanpaku. He took the initiative in governing the Imperial Court but was struck down by illness in only five years or so; at that time he intended to be succeeded as kanpaku by his legitimate son Korechika, which was not granted by the Emperor, and he died.

Biography

Michitaka was born the first son of FUJIWARA no Kaneie of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan. His father Kaneie had presented Senshi, his younger sister by the same mother, to Emperor Enyu as nyogo, and Senshi had given birth to Emperor Ichijo. Also, Choshi, another younger sister by the same mother, had been presented to Emperor Reizei as nyogo and had given birth to Emperor Sanjo.

In September 984, when Emperor Enyu abdicated the throne to Emperor Kazan, Michitaka was conferred Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) and appointed to attend Imperial Prince Yasuhito (also known as Kanehito) who had become togu (the Crown Prince, also referred to as kotaishi) as Togu Gon no daibu (Provisional Master of the Crown Prince's Quarters).

Kaneie's deceased elder brother FUJIWARA no Koretada was the maternal grandfather of Emperor Kazan, and Koretada's son Chunagon (vice-councilor of state) FUJIWARA no Yoshichika, who was accordingly a maternal uncle of Emperor Kazan, assisted the Emperor. Seeing Yoshichika, a maternal relative of Emperor Kazan, as a threat, Kaneie earnestly desired enthronement of his grandson, Imperial Prince Yasuhito, as soon as possible.

In 986, Kaneie schemed to have his second son, Michikane, lead Emperor Kazan, who was grief-stricken over his beloved lady's death, out of dairi (the Imperial Palace precincts) into a temple and induce the Emperor to take the tonsure. While they frantically searched for the vanished Emperor in the Imperial Court, Michitaka, with his younger brother Michitsuna, brought Yasakani no magatama (comma-shaped jewel; one of the three imperial regalia) and Ama no Murakumo no Tsurugi Sword (literally, heaven's cloud-gathering sword; another one of the three imperial regalia) into togu gosho (the Crown Prince's Palace). Then, Imperial Prince Yasuhito promptly ascended the throne (the Emperor Ichijo).

Kaneie, the maternal grandfather of the Emperor Ichijo, became sessho, and Kaneie's legitimate son Michitaka was rapidly raised from shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state) to Junii (Junior Second Rank) Gon Dainagon (a provisional chief councilor of state). In 989, Michitaka was appointed to the office of naidaijin. Michitaka supposedly did not want to be elevated to a higher rank, and in the interim in October 987, he renounced his right to be conferred Juichii (Junior First Rank) in exchange for conferment of Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) on Korechika.

In February 990, he had his first daughter, Teishi, make an Imperial Consort's bridal entry into court as nyogo of Emperor Ichijo. In June in the same year when Kaneie resigned his position of kanpaku owing to illness, Michitaka substituted for him as kanpaku, then as sessho. In July, Kaneie died.

According to documents such as "Kojidan" (Talks on old affairs), Kaneie consulted with his right-hand-men FUJIWARA no Arikuni, TAIRA no Korenaka, and TAIRA no Kunihira about which son should succeed Kaneie. Arikuni said that the second son, the courageous Michikane, was suitable. However, Korenaka and Kunihira recommended Michitaka, according to the order of legal wife's child and concubine's child. In the end, Michitaka was chosen as the successor; having heard of the developments, Michitaka bore a grudge against Arikuni and cashiered Arikuni and his son as he assumed the office of kanpaku.

In October, he presented Teishi as chugu and became a father-in-law of the Emperor. In 991, he handed over the office of naidaijin to Michikane, setting a precedent for having the two posts of sekkan (considering sessho and kanpaku to be the same post) and minister fall to different persons. In May 21, 993, he assumed the office of kanpaku again.

In February 995, he made his second daughter, Genshi, the empress of the Crown Prince, the Imperial Prince Okisada (later Emperor Sanjo), and tightened management of kokyu (literally, rear palace; imperial harem).

Ironically, Michitaka fell ill in a little while, and on April 16, with an intention of being succeeded by his legitimate son naidaijin Korechika, he appealed to Emperor Ichijo to grant him permission to resign nairan (an emperor's private inspector of all official documents) in favor of Korechika and to entrust Korechika with the political affairs. However, the Emperor allowed him to entrust Korechika the post of nairan only during his illness and did not allow him to hand over the post of kanpaku to Korechika. On May 10, Michitaka resigned the office of kanpaku, and repeatedly reported to the Emperor, in vain, on Korechika's succession to the office of kanpaku. On May 13, he became a priest, and on May 17, he died. Died at the age of 43.

He is supposed to have died not of a plague which had prevailed and killed many court nobles at that time, but of aggravation of mizu nomi yami (water-drinking illness) (diabetes) resulting from excessive ingestion of sake (alcohol), which he coincidentally experienced at the time.

After the death of Michitaka, his younger brother Michikane succeeded as kanpaku against Michitaka's will, and the Naka no Kanpaku family slipped into a steep decline from that time.

According to such documents as "Okagami" (The Great Mirror) and "Makura no soshi" (The Pillow Book), Michitaka had a free-hearted side such that he was a cheerful hard-drinking man who enjoyed witty remarks. "Okagami" described that Michitaka had drinking companions such as FUJIWARA no Naritoki and FUJIWARA no Asateru, and together with them he once got drunk and took off his eboshi (formal headwear for court nobles) and exposed his bare head in public. On the other hand, he is described as a good-looking man with generosity of showing careful attention to people such that Shokei (a high-ranking court noble) MINAMOTO no Toshikata, who visited Michitaka just before his death to pronounce an imperial edict, repeatedly mentioned Michitaka's splendid bearing afterwards.

Genealogy

Michitaka had his first child, Gon Dainagon FUJIWARA no Michiyori, with a daughter of Yamashiro no kuni no kami (Governor of Yamashiro Province) FUJIWARA no Morihito, but he favored the children he had with TAKASHINA no Kishi (also known as Ko no naishi, Gidosanshi no haha (Mother of Gidosanshi)), a daughter of TAKASHINA no Naritada, including naidaijin FUJIWARA no Korechika, chunagon FUJIWARA no Takaie, gondaisozu (a provisional highest grade that can be held by one who has reached the second highest rank in the hierarchy of Buddhist priests) Ryuen, and Empress FUJIWARA no Teishi, as a stem family.

Record of Office and Rank

967
November 20: Conferred Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade.)
December: Granted shoden (access to the administration chambers in the Seiryo den Hall in the imperial court).
968
February 19: Installed as member of palace staff. January 13: Reassigned to post of Sahyoue no suke (Assistant Captain of the Left Division of Middle Palace Guards).
972
January 9: Reassigned to post of Uemon no suke (Assistant Captain of the Right Division of Outer Palace Guards).
973
February 17: Promoted to Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade). Whether or not he retained his position as Uemon no suke is unknown.

974
February 7: Appointed to the office of kurodo (Chamberlain). March 8: Assigned additional duty of Iyo no Gon no Suke (provisional vice governor of Iyo Province). November 2: Reassigned to post of Sakone no shosho (Minor Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards). Whether or not he retained his position as kurodo and Iyo no Gon no Suke is unknown.

975
February 25: Promoted to Shogoinoge. Retained his position as Sakone no shosho. Whether or not he also retained his position as kurodo and Iyo no Gon no Suke is unknown.

976
March 6: Appointed to the office of Bingo gon no suke (Provisional Assistant Governor of Bingo Province). Whether or not he resigned from the office of Iyo no Gon no Suke is unknown.

977
February 2: Promoted to Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and retained his position as Sakone no shosho. Between January - February (January in old lunar calendar): Reassigned to post of Bitchu gon no kami (Provisional governor of Bitchu Province). Resigned from the office of Sakone no shosho. Granted shoden.

978
November 25: Appointed to the office of Ukonoe no Gon no chujo (Provisional Middle Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards).
979
February 5: Assigned additional post of Bitchu gon no kami.
981
February 19: Promoted to Jushiinojo (Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade) and retained his position as Ukonoe no chujo.
982
February 8: Promoted to Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and retained his position as Ukonoe no chujo.
984
February 16: Promoted to Jusanmi and retained his position as Ukonoe no chujo. September 29: Assigned additional post of Togu gon no daibu (Provisional Master of the Crown Prince's Quarters for Togu (Imperial Prince Yasuhito, later Emperor Ichijo)).
986
August 6: Resigned from the office of Togu gon no daibu. August 17: Reassigned to Gon Chunagon and served concurrently as Kotaigo gu no daibu (Master of the Empress Dowager's Household (the Empress Dowager was FUJIWARA no Senshi, a daughter of FUJIWARA no Kaneie)). Retained his position as Ukonoe no chujo.

August 21: Promoted to Shosanmi and retained his position as Gon Chunagon, Kotaigo gu no daibu, and Ukonoe no chujo. August 25: Resigned from the office of Ukonoe no chujo. September 1: Reassigned to Gon Dainagon and retained his position as Kotaigo gu no daibu. September 3: Promoted to Junii and retained his position as Gon Dainagon and Kotaigo gu no daibu.
989
April 6: Reassigned to position of naidaijin. August 21: Assigned additional post of Sakone no daisho (Major Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards).
990
June 8: Promoted by Imperial edict to kanpaku. Retained his position as naidaijin and Sakone no daisho.

June 13: Promoted by Imperial edict to Toshi Choja (head of the Fujiwara clan). June 26: Resigned from the office of kanpaku and promoted by Imperial edict to sessho. Retained his position as naidaijin and Sakone no daisho.

June 30: Resigned the office of Sakone no daisho.

991
August 31: Resigned from the office of naidaijin.
993
May 21: Resigned from the office of sessho and promoted by Imperial edict to kanpaku. Retained his position as Toshi choja.

995
May 10: Resigned from the offices of kanpaku and Toshi choja. May 13: Became a priest. May 17: Died. Died at the age of 43.