Imperial Prince Atsuyasu (敦康親王)
Imperial Prince Atsuyasu (December 22, 999 - January 31, 1019) was a member of the Imperial family who lived in the mid-Heian period.
Prince Atsuyasu was born in 999 to Emperor Ichijo (the 66th Emperor) and FUJIWARA no Teishi, who was the then Chugu (the second consort of an emperor), at the residence of TAIRA no Narimasa, who served as Chugu no Daishin (a sixth rank post in the Office of the Empress's Household). He was the first prince born to a consort of the Emperor. However, because of the death of FUJIWARA no Michitaka (also known as Nakanokanpaku), his maternal grandfather, as well as the downfall of FUJIWARA no Korechika, his uncle, the family into which his mother was born had already fallen into ruin and lost influence before he was born. Moreover, FUJIWARA no Shoshi, eldest daughter of the powerful courtier FUJIWARA no Michinaga, received an Imperial letter of appointment as Nyogo (a court lady next in rank to Chugu) on the same day that Prince Atsuyasu was born, meaning that he was destined to lead an unhappy life from birth.
He became an Imperial prince on May 30 of the following year, 1000; however, at the end of the same year, he lost his mother, the Empress, at the age of two. The youngest sister of the late Empress (Mikushigedono (the fourth daughter of FUJIWARA no Michitaka)) then assumed responsibility for raising the Imperial Prince Atsuyasu and his sisters (Imperial princesses) in place of the late Empress; however, Mikushigedono died soon thereafter. Under these circumstances, Imperial Prince Atsuyasu and his sisters were committed to the care of Shoshi, who was the Chugu and had no children of her own at that time, through the good offices of the Emperor, his father; therefore, they moved to Higyosha, Shoshi's apartment. On December 6, 1001, he put on a hakama for the first time in celebrating the ceremony for Imperial princes known as Chakko no gi, which was held at the apartment. In the same year, FUJIWRA no Yukinari, who was an aide to the Emperor, was appointed to act as Chokubetto (a steward to an Imperial prince's family or the like, by Imperial order) for the family of Imperial Prince Atsuyasu.
Though the Chugu Shoshi brought up Imperial Prince Atsuyasu affectionately, her father, Michinaga, served him in an completely different manner. In earlier days, Michinaga had instigated a plot leading to the downfall of FUJIWARA no Korechika and FUJIWARA no Takaie (brothers who were uncles to Imperial Prince Atsuyasu) and acted discourteously towards Teishi, Imperial Prince Atsuyasu's mother, on a number of occasions. To Michinaga, Imperial Prince Atsuyasu was no more than an insurance policy who would only succeed to the throne should Shoshi not give birth to an Imperial prince. Accordingly, immediately after Shoshi gave birth to the second Imperial Prince, Prince Atsunari (who was to become the Emperor Goichijo) in September 1008, Michinaga abondoned his service to Imperial Prince Atsuyasu and, and focused all of his efforts on having his grandson by Shoshi installed as Crown Prince and aceed to the throne. The misfortunes to be incurred by Imperial Prince Atsuyasu start here.
On February 21, 1010, Korechika, his uncle, died ain despair, a dejected man. The death of his uncle, who had no political power but held a high position (i.e., the office of Vice Minister, at Shonii (Senior Second Rank) in the government hierarchy), making the position of Imperial Prince Atsuyasu, who had never enjoyed the benefit of a strong backer, even more vulnerable.
On September 4 of the same year, Imperial Prince Atsuyasu celebrated his coming of age ceremony, presided over by Michinaga acting, and was appointed as Dazai no sochi (Governor-General of the Dazai-fu, Kyushu branch government) at Sanbon (the third rank of an Imperial prince)
On July 11 of the following year, 1011, Imperial Prince Atsuyasu was appointed as Jugo (a title established specifically for preferential treatment of a close relative of the Emperor, the regent (chief advisor to the Emperor), the Prime Minister, or other person who has rendered distinguished services) at Ippon (the first rank of an Imperial prince), and granted a right called a 'nenkan' (the right to receive an annual stipend and which is granted to members of the Imperial family (including the emperor), consorts of the emperor, select Court nobles, and so forth in nominating a person for a certain government post to be conferred on them on the occasion of the annual government official appointment ceremony) as well as a right called 'nenshaku' (the right to receive an annual stipend and which is granted to a retired emperor, the mother of the Empress Dowager, the Empress Dowager, the Empress, and so forth in nominating a person for a certain rank to be conferred on them on the occasion of the annual conferment of rank ceremony). Prior to the aforemention appointment, Emperor Ichijo, who intended to abdicate the throne, invited Yukinari, who was serving as steward to the Imperial Prince's family, to give his opinion regaring the possibility of having Imperial Prince Atsuyasu installed as Crown Prince. Yukinari replied that it would be impossible to receive approval from Michinaga, who held the powerful office of administrator, and that if Imperial Prince Atsuyasu was succesfully installed as Crown Prince, it might even result in political turmoil leading to a coup; furthermore, he stated that members of the Takashina clan, which was the maternal clan of the late Empress, Imperial Prince Atsuyasu's mother, were afraid to visit Ise-jingu Grand Shrine located in Ise, and did their utmost to dissuade Emperor Ichijo from installating Imperial Prince Atsuyasu as Crown Prince. For these reasons, Imperial Prince Atsunari, the younger half brother of Imperial Prince Atsuyasu by a different mother, was made heir apparent to the throne at the age of only four on the occasion of abdication of the Emperor Ichijo, which took place 10 days after the conferment of the rank of Ippon on Imperial Prince Atsuyasu. It is said that when this happened, the Chugu Shoshi bore resentment against her father, Michinaga, for his actions contrary to the wishes of the Emperor.
In "Okagami" (The Great Mirror), Prince Atsuyasu is described as being, 'blessed with outstanding intelligence and kind and considerate to others.'
In addition, dairies of Court nobles also make detailed references to his outstanding intelligence and excellent personal qualities. His father, Emperor Ichijo, had deep affection for Imperial Prince Atsuyasu and earnestly desired that he be installed as Crown Prince; however, the Emperor's desire was not fulfilled, due to Michinaga's opposition. Although he was the first prince born to one of the consorts of the Emperor, he was not installed as a Crown Prince. Because this was against the norm, it is said that the by and large the sympathies of the people were secretly on the side of this unfortunate Imperial prince.
On January 19, 1014, Prince Atsuyasu married the second daughter of Imperial Prince Tomohira, who usually went by the name Nochinochushoo. On March 16, 1016, he was assigned to the post of Shikibukyo (Director of the Minister of Ceremonies). On January 31, 1019, he suddenly fell ill, and then took the tonsure to become a Buddhist priest before passing away. He was 20 years old.
Imperial Prince Atsuyasu was close friends with FUJIWARA no Yorimichi, who was Michinaga's eldest son and served as regent, and their wives were sisters; therefore, they shared the same residence (some say that Imperial Prince Atsuyasu's wife, the Imperial princess, was brought up by Yorimichi and his wife for a time before her marriage). After the death of Imperial Prince Atsuyasu, the Imperial princess became a nun and left her only daughter in the care of Yorimichi and his wife, MINAMOTO no Takahime, who brought her up with great care. The said daughter was FUJIWARA no Genko, who was later to enter the Imperial Palace as a consort of Emperor Gosuzaku.