Minamoto no Toshikata (源俊賢)

MINAMOTO no Toshikata (959 - July 25, 1027) was a retainer of the Imperial Court during the mid-Heian period. He eventually gained the titles of Gon Dainagon (a provisional chief councilor of state) and the official court rank of Shonii (Senior Second Rank). He was called one of the Shinagon (the four councilors) of the court of Emperor Ichijo, along with FUJIWARA no Kinto, FUJIWARA no Tadanobu, and FUJIWARA no Yukinari, and was known as a skilled administrator who supported a part of the Sekkan regent government.

He was of the Daigo-Genji (Minamoto clan). He was born the third son of MINAMOTO no Takaakira, who had the title of Nishi no miya no Sadaijin (Minister of the Left for Nishinomiya), and his mother was the former wife of Takaakira and the third daughter of FUJIWARA no Morosuke, who had the title of Udaijin (Minister of the Right). He was the maternal younger brother of MINAMOTO no Tadataka, who had the title of Hyoe no suke (Assistant Captain of the Watch) and MINAMOTO no Koretaka, who had the title of shosho (major general). He had paternal siblings, including Minamoto no Akiko, who had the title of Takamatsuden and became the legal wife of FUJIWARA no Michinaga, and MINAMOTO no Tsunefusa (969-1023), who had the title of Shonii rank and Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state), who were borne by Ai no miya, the fifth daughter of Morosuke, who entered as the second wife for Takaakira after the death of Toshikata's mother.

He invited the daughter (Chunagon no kimi) of FUJIWARA no Tadakimi (the son of Morosuke), who had the title of Chunagon (vice-councilor of state) and Uemon no kami (Captain of the Right Gate Guards), as his legal wife, and she served as joro (the court lady) of FUJIWARA no Teishi, who had the title of Chugu (Empress). Between them, they had children including MINAMOTO no Akimoto, who held the title of Gon Chunagon, was the personal attendant of Emperor Goichijo and entered priesthood after the death of the emperor, MINAMOTO no Takakuni, who was a person of wit and had the title of Uji no dainagon (major councilor of Uji) trusted by FUJIWARA no Yorimichi, who had the title of Kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor), and the mother of Jojin Ajari, who was famous for Kashu (collection of family or personal waka, Japanese poems) that were reflections on her children.

His father, Takaakira, who was at the high rank of Sadaijin (Minister of Left), experienced a bitter moment when he was demoted to the rank of Dazai gonno sochi (Viceroy of Dazai-fu (the government of Kyushu)) due to the conspiracy of the Northern House of the FUJIWARA clan (Anna no Hen (Conspiracy of Anna)) in March 969, when Toshikata was eleven years old. Takaakira was pardoned in 971 but did not return to the political world, and retired and resided in Kazurano until he passed away in 982. Due to these events, the promotion of Toshikata was on the late side for the offsprings of upper nobles.

He was promoted to Shogoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) on February 25, 975, when he was 17 years old. He became a Jiju (chamberlain) on March 7, 977, Sahyoe no gon no suke (Provisional Assistant Captain of the Left Division of Middle Palace Guards) on November 30, 984, and Sakone gon no shosho (Provisional Minor Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) on September 24, 986. He was admitted to the court on February 4, 988, was assigned to be Kurodo (the palace officer) within the same year, and became the Uchuben (Middle Controller of the right) on September 26, 990. He was assigned to be the Kurodo no to (chief of the palace officers) at the age of 34 on October 10, 992, and was promoted to Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) at the Jimoku (inauguration ceremony) in February of the following year (993), and was assigned the additional post as Uhyoe no kami (Captain of the Right Division of Middle Palace Guards) on October 20, 994.

The reason why Toshikata was chosen as the Kurodo no to was because he had the sympathy of FUJIWARA no Michitaka, who had the title of Kanpaku, and Toshikata did not forget about it for a long time, and loyally served the Nakanokanpaku family even after Michitaka died and the Nakanokanpaku family fell, despite being the close associate and older brother-in-law of Michinaga. His loyalty can be seen in the event as follows; when Chugu (Empress) Teishi, who had escaped from Dairi (the Inner Palace) just before the execution of brothers FUJIWARA no Korechika and FUJIWARA no Takaie in the spring, on March 30, 996, all the Shokei (the top court officials in charge) other than TAIRA no Korenaka, who had the title of Hongu no daibu (chief of the office of the Imperial Palace), said 'it is better not to go along with her for fear of giving offense,' while Toshikata purposefully acted as a squire.

Once he was promoted as the Sangi (Councilor) on September 30, 995, he provided advice to Emperor Ichijo when deciding the candidate for the Kurodo no to, and he recommended FUJIWARA no Yukinari. FUJIWARA no Yukinari was depressed during his youth due to the early death of his father, but this recommendation of Toshikata allowed him to be singled out to gain the important post of Kurodo no to, a position for which numerous people held envy, and his occupation as a court official progressed steadily from then on. Yukinari was 13 years younger than Toshikata but they were friends for a long time hence, and Toshikata served as the Kakanyaku (presenter of the crest at Genpuku ceremony) for the son of Yukinari, FUJIWARA no Yoshitsune, and invited the daughter of Yukinari to be the second wife of his progeny, Akimoto.

His later court rank history was: he left the post of Uhyoe no kami on September 25, 996 and was assigned Kageyushi chokan (Secretary of the Office of Investigators of the Records of Outgoing Officials), served as Shuri daibu (Master of the Office of Palace Repairs), became Uchujo (lieutenant general of the Imperial Palace Guards, right division) on September 21, 1001, was transferred to Jibusho (the Ministry of Civil Administration) on October 27 of the same year, promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) seven days later, and reached the Shosanmi rank (Senior Third Rank) on May 6, 1003. He became the Gon Chunagon on February 23, 1004, and received the highest rank of his lifetime and the highest attainable rank of Gon Dainagon on April 9, 1017. He was transferred to Minbusho (the Ritsuryo Ranks and Positions) on December 22, 1020. He served as the gonno daibu (master of the office) for FUJIWARA no Akiko, the daughter of Michinaga, from 1002, and promoted to daibu (master) as Akiko became empress and promoted as she became grand empress dowager, and served as Miya no daibu (chief of the office of the Imperial palace) within the span of about twenty years.

At the beginning of the Kainin era (1017-1021), he presented the form of resignation three times, and was granted to retire from duties on December 7, 1026. He entered priesthood due to illness on July 24, 1027, and passed away on the next day. His dying age was 69, which was same as his father Takaakira. His descendants were mainly the Daigo-Genji, including his son, MINAMOTO no Takakuni, and his grandson MINAMOTO no Toshiaki (1044-1114), and formed three generations of Dainagon (chief councilor of state).