Fujiwara no Tsunemune (藤原経宗)

FUJIWARA no Tsunemune (1119 - March 23, 1189) was a noble who lived in the late Heian period. He was the fourth (or fifth) son of FUJIWARA no Tsunezane who was the founder of the Oinomikado family. His mother was FUJIWARA no Kimiko who was a daughter of FUJIWARA no Kinzane. He had elder brothers from a different mother, FUJIWARA no Tsunesada and FUJIWARA no Mitsutada, and an elder sister from the same mother, MINAMOTO no Yoshiko (Emperor Goshirakawa's consort) and a child, FUJIWARA no Yorizane.

The First Half of His Life

In 1123, he was ennobled. After he was admitted to the imperial court in 1129, he held positions of Ushosho (Minor Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards) and Sachujo (Middle Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) in succession. His mother, Kimiko, was a sister of FUJIWARA no Shoshi and, after his father died in 1131, it is inferred that he was protected by the Kaninryu (Kanin branch). In 1142, he was chosen for Kurodo no To (Head Chamberlain) for the Emperor Konoe. Because of the Emperor Sutoku's abdication and Taikenmonin's renouncing the world, however, the Kanin branch gradually lost its power and Tsunemune's promotion also stagnated. In 1149, Saneyuki SANJO and MINAMOTO no Masasada, who were Dainagon (chief councilor of state) were promoted to Udaijin (minister of the right) and Naidaijin (mister of the center) respectively, vacancies occurred in positions of Dainagon and lower, and, due to a series of linked personnel changes as a result of such vacancies, Tsunemune finally became Sangi (Royal Advisor) at the age of thirty-one and took rank with court nobles.

In August 1155, the Emperor Konoe passed away and, because of this, the turning point of Tsunemune's life arrived. Imperial Prince Masahito (later Emperor Goshirakawa), who was enthroned quite differently from what every one had expected, was a cousin of Tsunemune. In addition, when the Imperial Prince Morihito (later, the Emperor Nijo), who was born from Tsunemune's elder sister, Yoshiko (MINAMOTO no Arihito's adopted daughter) was formally installed as Crown Prince, he was appointed to Togu Gon no Daibu (Provisional Master of the Crown Prince's Quarters) and his political position was heightened as a maternal relative. As FUJIWARA no Muneyoshi, who was Daibu, was already old, being over seventy, Tsunemune actually managed the Togubo (Crown Prince's Quarters) by himself.

His promotion in office and rank was also remarkable and he assumed the position of Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state) in May 1156, and was ranked Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) and assumed the position of Uemon no Kami (Captain of the Right Division of Outer Palace Guards) in September and, in 1157, he assumed the position of Kebiishi no Betto (Superintendent of the Imperial Police) and he was promoted to Junii (Junior Second Rank) Gon Dainagon in 1158. Around this time, Tsunemune visited FUJIWARA no Tadazane, who had been confined in Chisoku-in Temple because of Hogen War, and asked for guidance on fine points of political affairs and reportedly grew ambition for the position of regent and adviser to the Emperor ("Gukansho" (Jottings of a Fool)).

From Heiji War to Falldown

In September 1158, the Emperor Nijo ascended the throne and the political arena was divided into two, one for the Insei (cloister government) by Goshirakawa and the other for direct administration by the Emperor Nijo. As a close aide to Goshirakawa, FUJIWARA no Shinzei displayed his uncommon shrewdness in politics and, in contrast to Shinzei, FUJIWARA no Nobuyori showed a remarkable rise. It seems that Tsunemune judged that there is no room for him to appear on the scene in the Insei group, and he gradually made clear his standpoint as direct administration group together with FUJIWARA no Korekata. There was a strong antipathy to Shinzei and his group which had assumed real political power, and Tsunemune and Korekata, who were the core member of the direct administration group, formed an anti-Shinzei group together with Nobuyori and FUJIWARA no Narichika and MINAMOTO no Moronaka, who belonged to the Insei group. On January 26, 1160, the anti-Shinzei group effected a coup d'etat and attacked Sanjo-dono and got power by killing Shinzei.

Although the anti-Shizei group won, the leadership was in the hand of the Insei group including Nobuyori which had MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo's military power in the background. After they succeeded in killing Shinzei, Tsunemune and Korekata had no need to cooperate with the Insei group any more and, therefore, they secretly contacted TAIRA no Kiyomori and let the Emperor Nijo escape from the dairi (Imperial Palace) to Rokuhara. Nobuyori, Yoshitomo, etc., who became traitors, were defeated and the Insei group was annihilated.

In February 1160, saying 'We should not transfer political power to the Retired Emperor; the Emperor should directly administer political affairs,' Tsunemune and Korekata harassed Goshirakawa, when the latter was looking outside from a stand in the mansion of FUJIWARA no Akinaga located in Hachijo Horikawa, by covering with wooden plates to obstruct Goshirakawa's field of vision. Although Tsunemune and Korekata aimed to establish direct administration by the emperor, it was obvious to everybody that, together with Nobuyori, etc., they were the ringleaders of killing of Shinzei and later they were blamed for their responsibility in the matter.

Goshirakawa ordered Kiyomori as 'Whether or not I can have political power depends on Korekata and Tsunemune. Teach them a lesson as much as you can.' and, on April 5, Kiyomori sent vassals to dairi (Imperial Palace) and arrested Tsunemune and Korekata. Both of them were taken before Goshirakawa and tortured. On 13, Tsunemune was dismissed together with Korekata and, on April 26, he was exiled to AWA Province.

Reinstatement and Assumption of the Position of Sadaijin (minister of the left)
In September 1161, as the plot to institute the Imperial Prince Norihito (the seventh Imperial Prince of Goshirakawa) to the Crown Prince was revealed, intervention to political affairs by the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa was suspended and direct administration by the Emperor Nijo was established. Tsunemune was called back next year, but, it seems that he behaved carefully after his return to Kyoto based on self-examination of having been overthrown and he did not show significant activity for awhile. In January 1164, he returned to the previous rank and, in the intercalary tenth month, he was promoted to Shonii (Senior Second Rank) and assumed the position of Udaijin.
As he had once been exiled to Awa Province, he was called 'Awa no Otodo.'
Seeing this, FUJIWARA no Koremichi made a sarcastic comment, based on the fact that KIBI no Makibi was Udaijin, 'Following Kibi no Otodo, we now have Awa no Otodo, and soon or later, we will also have Hie no Otodo (Kibi, Awa and Hie are Japanese names of cereals included in the gokoku - five representative cereals in Japan)' and made people laugh ("Heiji Monogatari"). As Dajodaijin, Koremichi, was very old and Sadaijin, Motofusa MATSUDONO, and Naidaijin, Kanezane KUJO, were too young, Tsunemune actually managed all for Daijokan (Grand Council of State) by himself.

In July 1165, the Emperor Nijo passed away. As his successor, the Emperor Rokujo was still very young, the political faction supporting Emperor Nijo was collapsed by the death of Sessho (regent), Motozane KONOE in the following year. On October 10 in the same year, Goshirakawa realized the official investiture of the Imperial Prince Norihito to the Crown Prince thanks to cooperation by Kiyomori. In the next month, Kiyomori became Naidaijin, and Tsunemune Sadaijin. Tsunemune showed a signal of allegiance to the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa saying 'There should be no difference between the retired emperor and the emperor' (Article for December 15, 1169 in "Heihanki"(diary of TAIRA no Nobuyori)) and, with the Taira clan, he established a close connection, for example, by adopting TAIRA no Munezane, who was the son of TAIRA no Shigemori and his wife, FUJIWARA no Keishi. Since then, Tsunemune actively attended the conference in the In no Gosho (retired emperor's palace) and acquired trust from the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa and the Taira clan by providing advice and suggestions to the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa's inquiries and offering advice to the Taira clan which was not accustomed to political affairs of state.

On December 15, 1178, when the Imperial Prince Kotohito, who was the first prince of the Emperor Takakura, was instituted to the Crown Prince (the Emperor Antoku), Tsunemune was chosen for Togu no Fu (head tutor of the Crown Prince). Kanezane strongly criticized this saying 'It had never been experienced that any person who was punished became a tutor,' ("Gyokuyo" (Diary of Kanezane KUJO)). Tsunemune's position was not influenced even when Goshirakawa Cloister Government was suspended by the Coup of the Third Year of Jisho. However, in the conference of nobles when Prince Mochihito raised an army, as Tsunemune did not agree to the opinion of FUJIWARA no Takasue and Michichika TSUCHIMIKADO, who were pro-Taira clan, to subjugate the Kofuku-ji Temple, it seems that Tsunemune was not completely subordinated by the Taira clan.

Forceful Execution of Jimoku (appointment ceremony) in the In's Palace (Retired Emperor's Palace)
On July 25, 1183, the Taira clan fled from Kyoto. In the conference on July 30, Tsunemune insisted to execute Jimoku in In's palace in accordance with Goshirakawa's intension. Kanezane strongly opposed to this insisting that the authority to issue Senji (imperial decree) and stamp Kanpu (official notice from Daijokan) was solely given to the emperor. Tsunemune also acknowledged that those were 'exclusive rights and obligations,' but he still insisted persistently for the reason that there was no other way. Finally, KIYOHARA no Yorinari, who was Geki (Secretary of the Grand Council of State) opined that the 'Decision should be limited to preliminary showing and the final decision shall be made by Jimoku after enthronement of the new emperor' which was met with approval by many members, and Tsunemune unwillingly withdrew his proposal (Article for the same day in "Gyokuyo").

On August 10, however, Tsunemune petitioned to carry out Jimoku in In's palace and Goshirakawa agreed to it. Sanesada TOKUDAIJI, who was Naidaijin, was angry about Tsunemune's act, as it had trampled on the decision in the previous conference and tried to petition Goshirakawa to oppose the opinion but Kanezane gave up by replying 'No objection' (Article for the same day in "Gyokuyo"). On August 16, as a result of Jimoku that was presided by Goshirakawa, close vassals of the Retired Emperor occupied almost all of the positions of Kokushi (provincial governor) of thirty provinces in total that were occupied by members of the Taira clan with few exceptions including Yoshinaka KISO and MINAMOTO no Yukiie. With respect to this willful and coarse personnel change, Kanazane was recorded as saying 'We have to say this personnel appointment is crazy. It is a pity.' (Article for the same day in "Gyokuyo").

After securing political initiative thanks to cooperation by Tsunemune, Goshirakawa began selecting a new emperor. On August 20, Goshirakawa rejected Sannomiya (Takakura's third Imperial Prince Koreaki) and Hokuroku no miya, who was supported by Yoshinaka, and enthroned Shinomiya (Takakura's fourth Imperial Prince Takahira; the Emperor Gotoba), who appeared in a dream of Tango no Tsubone (TAKASHINA no Eishi). Although it was quite unusual Senso (accession to the throne) without divine mirror (sacred mirror which is one of the three sacred treasures) and sacred sword and jewels, Tsunemune prepared agenda for Senso and made efforts to materialize it.

Experienced Vassal of the Imperial Court and Key Vassal for the State
In contract to Kanezane, who was Udaijin but did no attend the imperial court so often, Tsunemune supported the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa as an experienced vassal of the Imperial Court and key vassal for the state (Article for August 18, 1184 in "Gyokuyo"). After the downfall of the Taira clan, on October 13, 1185, MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune petitioned for that Senji be issued in order to subjugate Yoritomo. Although Goshirakawa hesitated, Tsunemune proposed senji saying 'At present, Yoshitsune is the only one military commander in Kyoto. If you oppose his proposal and he rebels, who can fight back? Therefore, you should issue senji as requested.' and chaired the ceremony for the senji to subjugate Yoritomo (Article for the same day in "Gyokuyo").

After the downfall of Yoshitsune, this action was deemed problematic and Tsunemune was excluded from Gijo Kugyo (Noble Council) that was established by Yoritomo's request. Twelve nobles including TAKASHINA no Yasutsune and TAIRA no Chikamune were dismissed by reason of having agreed to Yoshitsune, but Tsunemune was not accused and remained in the position of Sadaijin. On February 13, 1189, he resigned from official posts because of his illness and became a priest (Buddhist name was Hosshogaku(法性覚)) and he died on February 28. He was seventy-one years old. He was also good at waka (=tanka; a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables) and his waka was chosen for "Senzai Wakashu" (7th imperial anthology) and "Shinchokusen Wakashu" (9th imperial anthology) and he left his diary "Komonki." His wooden statue in the appearance of a priest exists in Saiho-ji Temple in Kyoto City.

Tsunemune gives off the impression of a person who switched between influential persons such as the Emperor Nijo, the Taira clan and the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa, which was made possible by his capability, commented as 'He handled political affairs in the Imperial court well and had a thorough knowledge of ancient practices' ("Gukansho"). From the fact that even Kiyomori and Goshirakawa, who were both once confronted by Tsunemune, gave him important positions and he stayed in the position of Sadaijin for twenty-four years even admist the disturbance, and was commented as 'He was used by influential persons as Sadaijin for many years' ("Gukansho"), we can infer that his existence could not be ignored.

From January 1160 to the next month of his exile, Tsunemune was enfiefed in Echigo Province and, after he was called back, he was enfiefed in Bitchu Province from January 1166 to April 1171, and in Tosa Province from 1171 until he died in 1189. The fief in Tosa was inherited by his heir Yorizane. Yorizane was promoted to Daijodaijin and, later, the Oinomikado family succeeded to secure a stable postiion as Seigake (second rank of noble family).

His Career as an Official

Lunar calendar used for the dates
1123 (Five years old)
February 19: Given the rank of Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) (Given through FUJIWARA no Shoshi, who was Chugu (empress)).

1128 (Ten years old)
January 24: Assumed the position of Sahyoe no suke (Assistant Captain of the Left Division of Middle Palace Guards). December 20: Admitted to the court.

1130 (Twelve years old)
January 5: Given the rank of Shogoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade).

1131 (Fourteen years old)
December 24: Assumed the position of Ushosho.

1132 (Fourteen years old)
January 22: He assumed the position of Bitchu no Suke (Assistant Governor of Bitchu Province).

1133 (Fifteen years old)
January 2: Given the rank of Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade). April: Permitted by imperial permission to use kinjiki (literally, "forbidden colors", seven colors traditionally reserved for the imperial family and nobility).

1135 (Seventeen years old)
January 5: Given the rank of Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade).

1137 (Nineteen years old)
January 5: Given the rank of Jushiinojo (Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade) (given through the Retired Emperor Toba). January 20: Assumed the position of Mimasaka no Suke (Assistant Governor of Mimasaka Province). September 25: Given the rank of Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) (as an award in relation with Imperial visit to Hokongo-in Temple.

1138 (Twenty years old)
November 17: Assumed the position of Sachujo.

1141 (Twenty-three years old)
December 7: Permitted to enter the court by the new emperor (the Emperor Konoe).

1142 (Twenty-four years old)
January 7: Assumed the position of Kurodo no To. January 23: Assumed the position of Bizen no Gon no Suke (Provisional Assistant Governor of Bizen Province).

1147 (Twenty-nine years old)
January 28: Assumed the position of Harima no Suke (Assistant Governor of Harima Province).

1149 (Twenty-nine years old)
July 28: Assumed the position of Sangi. August 2: Retained his position as Sachujo.

1150 (Thirty-two years old)
January 29: Assumed the position of Bitchu no Gon no Kami (Provisional Governor of Bitchu Province).

1152 (Thirty-four years old)
March 8: Given the rank of Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank)(Ceremony for the age of fifty of the Cloistered Emperor Toba. Assumed the position of an attendant to Bifukumonin.)
Assumed the position of an attendant to Bifukumonin.

1155 (Thirty-seven years old)
January 28: Assumed the position of Sanuki no Gon no Kami (Provisional Governor of Sanuki Province). September 23: Togu Gon no Daibu (acting chief secretary to the Crown Prince).

1156 (Thirty-eight years old)
April 6: Gon Chunagon. September 17: Assumed also the position of Uemon no Kami (Captain of the Right Division of Outer Palace Guards). Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank).

1157 (Thirty-nine years old)
April 2: Assumed the position of Kebiishi no Betto (Superintendent of the Imperial Police). August 19: Assumed the position of Chunagon (Middle Counselor).

1158 (Forty years old)
January 10: Given the rank of Junii (Junior Second Rank) (as an award in relation with the imperial visit by Bifukumonin. Given through Togu (the Crown Prince)).
Given through Togu (the Crown Prince).)

February 21: Assumed the position of Gon Dainagon. Retained his position as Togu Gon no Daibu.

August 11: Resigned from the position of Togu Gon no Daibu (enthronement of the Emperor Nijo). December 17: Given the rank of Shonii (giving rank related to enthronement).

1160 (Forty-two years old)
February 28: Dismissed from official positions. March 11: Exiled to Awa Province.

1162 (Forty-four years old)
March 7: Called back.

1164 (Fourth-six years old)
January 21: Returned to Shonii. Reappointed to Gon Dainagon.

February 18: Permitted to carry a sword. Leap month October 23: Assumed the position of Udaijin.

1166 (Forty-eight years old)
October 21: He assumed the position of Sadaisho (Major Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards). November 11: He assumed the position of Sadaijin. November 13: Retained his position as Sadaisho. November 25: He assumed the position of Sameryo no Gogen (inspector of the left imperial stables).

1168 (Fifty years old)
August 9: He resigned from Sadaisho (because of his illness).

1174 (Fifty-six years old)
January 7: Given the rank of Juichii (Junior First Rank).

1178 (Sixty years old)
December 15: Assumed the position of Togu no Fu.

1180 (Sixty-two years old)
February 21: Resigned from the position of Togu no Fu (enthronement of the Emperor Antoku).

1182 (Sixty-four years old)
November 23: Given a teguruma no senji (special permission from the Emperor to enter the imperial palace in a hand cart). November 25: Given a gissha no senji (special permission to from the Emperor to enter the imperial palace in an ox-drawn cart).

1189 (Seventy-one year old)
February 13: He became a priest.