Fujiwara no Tanetsugu (藤原種継)

FUJIWARA no Tanetsugu (737 - November 4, 785) was a kuge (court noble) who lived during the late Nara Period. He was a grandson of FUJIWARA no Umakai, the forefather of the Ceremonial House of the Fujiwara clan. He was the eldest son of FUJIWARA no Kiyonari, who was posthumously granted the rank of Shoichii (Senior First Rank).
He held the rank of Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) and the position of Chunagon (Vice-councilor of State)
He was posthumously granted the rank of Shoichii (Senior First Rank) and the position of Daijo-daijin (Grand Minister).


According to the "Shoku Nihongi," he was first promoted to Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) from Jurokuinojo in 766 and WAKE no Kiyomaro was also given the same rank. Two years later, he became Mimasaka no kuni no kami (Governor of Mimasaka Province), and successively worked in different positions such as Konoefu shosho (Major General of the Headquarters of the Inner Palace Guards), Kii no kuni no kami (Governor of Kii Province), Yamashiro no kami (Governor of Yamashiro Province), a member of Kyoshiki (Capital Bureau), Shimousa no kuni no kami (Governor of Shimousa Province), Sakon hyoe no kami (Head of the Left Guards) and Omi no kuni no kami (Governor of Omi Province). As the Shiki Family that worked for Emperor Konin's accession to the imperial throne became an influential political player, his official rank increased. After Tanetsugu's uncles FUJIWARA no Yoshitsugu's and FUJIWARA no Momokawa's death, as the eldest person among Umakai's grandsons he became the representative of that family. Emperor Kammu had a strong trust and confidence in Tanetsugu and he was given the position of Sangi (Councilor), Shikibu-sho (Ministry of Ceremonial) in 782 and became Chunagon (Middle Counselor) in 784.

Transferring of the national capital to Nagaoka

In 784 Emperor Kammu aspired to relocate the capital from Heijokyo (in current Nara) and remarked that 'the Emperor really entrusts Tanetsugu with decisions of entire internal and external matters,' so Tanetsugu advised him about transferring the national capital to Nagaoka, Otokuni District, Yamashiro Province. With Emperor Kammu's order, Tanetsugu visited Nagaoka along with FUJIWARA no Oguromaro, SAEKI no Imaemishi, KI no Funamori, ONAKATOMI no Kooyu, SAKANOUE no Karitamaro and in the same year he was appointed the Zogushi (Palace construction officer) in Nagaokakyo (the ancient capital of Nagaoka). He was in charge of the transfer of the capital. One of the reasons why he was selected for Zogushi could be that there were expectations for cooperation with the Hata clan, Tanetsugu's mother's family home, located in Kadono County, the Province of Yamashiro which was close to Nagaoka, the place where the capital was transferred to. In fact, the Hata family's members including HATA no Tarinaga and UZUMASA no Yakamori were conferred a peerage for the success of building Shinto shrines.

The assassination of FUJIWARA no Tanetsugu

Soon after the transfer of the capital, on the evening of September 23rd in 785, Tanetsugu was shot with an arrow when overseeing the construction and died the following day. It occurred while Emperor Kammu was away in Yamato Province. OTOMO no Takera was arrested on suspicion of assassination first, and after an investigation, more than a dozen people including OTOMO no Tsuguhito and SAEGI Takanari were captured and decapitated. OTOMO no Yakamochi who died on August 28th on the lunar calendar just before he was divested of his court rank as the ringleader. Implicated by the facts, several people including IOE no Okimi, FUJIWARA no Oyori, KI no Shiromaro and OTOMO no Naganushi were exiled. Later Imperial Prince Sawara who was Emperor Kammu's younger brother and the Crown Prince was disinherited and then later expelled and died in exile. It is said that Imperial Prince Sawara had been on bad terms with Tanetsugu; however the truth is not sure whether Sawara was involved in the fact. However, Yakamochi was Togu no daibu (Master of the Crown Prince's Quarters) before his death and it is true that Takanari and those who were arrested also included some government officials of Togubo which was the domestic governing institution for Crown Prince. Relocating the capital from Nagaoka-Kyo to Heian-Kyo (in current Kyoto) in a short time could be attributed in part to a series of the events including avoiding the vengeful ghost of the Imperial Prince Sawara.

After Tanetsugu's death, Emperor Kammu made him Shoichii (Senior First Rank) and Sadaijin (Minister of the Left) and then Daijo-daijin (Grand Minister) in 809.