Fujiwara no Yoshifusa (藤原良房)

FUJIWARA no Yoshifusa (804 - October 11, 872) was a court noble, who lived in the early part of the Heian period. He was the second son of FUJIWARA no Fuyutsugu of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan. Her mother was FUJIWARA no Mitsuko. His daughter was FUJIWARA no Akirakeiko (Some-dono no Kisaki), and his adopted son was FUJIWARA no Mototsune. He was popularly called Some-dono or Shirakawa-dono.

He successfully had the son of his sister made Crown Prince by taking advantage of the Jowa no Hen (Jowa Conspiracy), and when the Crown Prince became Emperor Montoku, he controlled the Imperial government and attained the position of Daijo-daijin (Grand Minister of State). He arranged for his daughter to marry Emperor Montoku, and then declared their son the Crown Prince. When Emperor Montoku died young, his grandson, although still a child, was enthroned as Emperor Seiwa, and Yoshifusa became the first Sessho (regent) not of imperial rank. This is how Yoshifusa laid the groundwork for the great prosperity of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan.

Biography

Yoshifusa was born as the second son of FUJIWARA no Fuyutsugu, a highly capable courtier deeply trusted by Emperor Saga. He was chosen as the husband of Emperor Saga's daughter, MINAMOTO no Kiyohime.

Yoshifusa was assigned as Kurodo (Officer of the Imperial Court Affairs Office) for Emperor Junna and promoted to Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Lower Court Rank) in the Tencho era (824 to 834) during Emperor Junna's reign. His sister FUJIWARA no Junshi was the wife of Imperial Prince (Crown Prince) Masara (who later became Emperor Ninmyo) and gave birth to Emperor Montoku. Like his father, he was deeply trusted by the retired Emperor Saga and Empress Dowager TACHIBANA no Kachiko.

He was promoted to Shosanmi (Senior Third Court Rank), appointed as Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain), Sangi (Councilor), and then Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state), and assumed the role of Mutsu Dewa Azechi (Inspector of the provincial government in Mutsu and Dewa) as well as Ukone no daisho (Major Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards) in the Jowa era (834 to 848) during Emperor Ninmyo's reign.

Imperial Prince Tsunesada, son of Emperor Junna, was named Crown Prince for Emperor Ninmyo, but was disinherited at the time of the Jowa Incident that occurred immediately after the death of the retired Emperor Saga in 842, and Imperial Prince Michiyasu was named Crown Prince. After the event, Yoshifusa was transferred to the title of Dainagon (chief councilor of state) and served as Minbukyo (Minister of Popular Affairs) and Sakone no daisho (Major Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) at the same time.

In 844, Imperial Prince Michiyasu was enthroned as Emperor Montoku. Yoshifusa had FUJIWARA no Akirakeiko (Empress Somedono), born to him and his wife Kiyohime, become a nyogo (court lady). He was promoted to Udaijin (Minister of the Right) in 848. In 850, Akirakeiko and Emperor Montoku had a son, the fourth Imperial Prince (later Emperor Seiwa), who was installed as Crown Prince at the age of only eight months. This was an unprecedented event.

Yoshifusa was promoted to Shonii (Senior Second Court Rank) in 851 and the following year, whilst serving as Sakone no daisho, edited a national history, the Shoku Nihon Koki. In 856, he was promoted to Daijo-daijin. At the same time, he was granted Juichii (Junior First Court Rank).

Since he had no heir, he adopted FUJIWARA no Mototsune, the third son of his brother, FUJIWARA no Nagara. He also arranged the marriage between Nagara's daughter, FUJIWARA no Takaiko, and Imperial Prince Korehito, laying the groundwork of his family's power for future generations. Takaiko was well-known for her love affair with ARIHARA no Narihira and was nine years older than Imperial Prince Korehito.

Having great affection for First Imperial Prince Koretaka (whose mother was a daughter of KI no Natora), and due to his concerns that Imperial Prince Korehito was too young, Emperor Montoku thought of enthroning Imperial Prince Koretaka first and then having Korehito take over when he was older but the Emperor passed away in 858 while he was procrastinating out of consideration for Yoshifusa. Consequently, Yoshifusa enthroned the nine-year-old Imperial Prince Korehito as Emperor Seiwa. Receiving an Imperial edict that 'You should deserve the Sessho (Regent) rank to administer affairs of the country,' Yoshifusa became Sessho and took control of the Imperial government.

Upon the coming of age ceremony of Emperor Seiwa in 864, Yoshifusa retired from the post of Sessho.

Following the Otenmon Incident of 866, in which Dainagon TOMO no Yoshio was overthrown and the Otomo and Ki clans, who were alleged to be involved in the event, were also ousted from the court.

Since Emperor Seiwa spent his childhood at Yoshifusa's residence, he always confided in Yoshifusa and gave an edict to him to serve as Sessho again in the same year.

Yoshifusa focused on the development of the legal system and completed establishment of the Jogan Kyakushiki Code (Regulations and Procedures of the Jogan Era), with the "kyaku" being promulgated in 869, and the "shiki" in 871.

In 871, he was granted the rank of Jusangu, a title reserved for the nobility and members of the Imperial family. A few months later, in 872, he passed away. After his death, he was made Shoichii (Senior First Court Rank) and given the posthumous name Chujin-ko.

Being the first Sessho not of imperial rank, Yoshifusa had reached the pinnacle of his career. He had all the power to him and his family, and the families of his descendents served as Sekkan-ke (the families which produced regents) in succession.

Chronology of government posts and ranks

Dates follow the lunar calendar. In 814, Yoshifusa was allowed to take Kiyohime, a daughter of Emperor Saga, for his wife. In January 826, he was appointed Kurodo. In February, he was transferred as Chu-hanji (Middle Judge).

On January 7, 828, he was promoted to Jugoinoge. On March 9, he was appointed Daigaku no kami (Director of the Bureau of Education).

In May 830, he was transferred to Togu no suke (Assistant Master in the Crown Prince's Quarters), for the Crown Prince at the time being Imperial Prince Masara, later Emperor Ninmyo. In November, he also served as Ecchu Gon no kami (Deputy Governor of Echizen Province). In leap December, he also took the office of Kaga no kami (the governor of Kaga Province) and left the position of Ecchu Gon no kami.

In February 833, he was assigned as Sakone no shosho (Minor Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards), while remaining as Kaga no kami. In February, he was appointed Kurodo no to. He retained his position as Sakone no shosho. On March 6, he was promoted to Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Upper Court Rank), while retaining his position as Kurodo no to and Sakone no shosho. On August 14, he was promoted to Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Lower Court Rank), while retaining his position as Kurodo no to and Sakone no shosho. In November 18, he was promoted to Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Upper Court Rank) and transferred to the service of Sakone gon no chujo (Provisional Middle Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards). He retained his position as Kurodo no to.

In July 9, 834, he was made a Sangi, while retaining his position as Sakone gon no chujo.

On January 7, 835, he was promoted to Jushiinojo (Junior Fourth Upper Court Rank), while retaining his position as a Sangi and Sakone gon no chujo. On April 7, he was promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Court Rank) and appointed Gon Chunagon. On April 15, he also served as Sahyoe no kami (Captain of the Left Division of Middle Palace Guards).

On January 11, 839, he was also appointed Mutsu Dewa Azechi.

On August 8, 840, he was appointed Chunagon, while retaining his position as Sahyoe no kami and Mutsu Dewa Azechi..

On January 7, 842, he was promoted to Shosanmi, while retaining his position as Chunagon, Sahyoe no kami and Mutsu Dewa Azechi. On July 11, he also served as Ukone no daisho and left the office of Sahyoe no kami. On July 25, he was promoted to Dainagon and appointed Sakone no daisho. He retained his position as Mutsu Dewa Azechi. On August 11, he was also appointed Minbukyo and left the office of Mutsu Dewa Azechi.

In February 844, he also served as Mutsu Dewa Azechi.

On January 10, 848, he was transferred to the office of Udaijin, while retaining his position as Ukone no daisho.

On January 7, 849, he was promoted to Junii (Junior Second Court Rank), while retaining his position as Udaijin and Ukone no daisho.

In November 7, 851, he was promoted to Shonii, while retaining his position as Udaijin and Ukone no daisho.

On August 28, 854, he was appointed as Sakone no daisho and resigned as Ukone no daisho.

On February 19, 857, he was appointed as Daijo-daijin. He resigned as Sakone no daisho. On April 19, he was promoted to Juichii, while retaining his position as Daijo-daijin.

On November 7, 858, he was appointed as Sessho to the Emperor. He retained his position as Daijo-daijin.

In 864, he resigned as Sessho.

On August 19, 866, he was again appointed as Sessho. He retained his position as Daijo-daijin.

On April 1, 871, he was granted the title of Jusangu. On September 2, 872, he passed away at the age of 69. On September 4, he was posthumously granted the title of Shoichi. He was also given the posthumous name Chujin-ko.