Minamoto no Yoshitada (源義忠)

MINAMOTO no Yoshitada was a military commander in the late Heian period. He was the fourth leader of Kawachi-Genji (a branch of Seiwa-Genji, the Minamoto clan that originated from the Emperor Seiwa). Following MINAMOTO no Yoshiie's death, Yoshitada inherited the leadership and sought to maintain the power of Kawachi-Genji through alliances with Ise-Heishi (one of the Taira clans) before being assassinated by his own family member.

Although he is a former leader of Kawachi-Genji, he is not well known now because of his assassination. He is seldom referred to in books or other documents and his name is even omitted from an informal family tree. He achieved fame during his lifetime as the leader of Kawachi-Genji after the death of Yoshiie, but due to his assassination, he was not able to succeed in preserving the power of Kawachi-Genji and was therefore poorly regarded by later generations.

MINAMOTO no Yoshitada was Kawachi no kami (Governor of Kawachi Province).

He was born in Koroho castle as the fourth son of the third leader of Kawachi-Genji, MINAMOTO no Yoshiie. His brothers were MINAMOTO no Yoshichika, a strong general known as 'Aku Tsushima no kami' (The Bad Governor of Tsushima Province), and MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni, a strong general known as 'Ara Kaga nyudo' (Rowdy Lay-monk of Kaga). Yoshitada was the last of the Kawachi-Genji leaders to be appointed Kawachi no kami.

Yoshiie remarked that Yoshitada resembled Yoshiie's father, MINAMOTO no Yoriyoshi. Starting from youth, he held several posts in succession including Tachihaki no osa (Guard Chief of the Emperor, Crown Prince and the Palace), Kawachi no kami (Governor of Kawachi Province), and Kebiishi (Official with judicial and police powers). Some believe that these appointments were made with the influence of his father, MINAMOTO no Yoshiie. However, others believe that the Imperial Court, which was oppressing Yoshiie but weary of him at the same time, gave Yoshitada the important position of Kawachi no kami as a conciliatory measure.

Until recently, it was believed that Yoshitada was chosen in haste to succeed his father because his two older brothers, Yoshichika and Yoshikuni, had been killed or exiled by the Imperial Court in punishment for their violent behavior or act of insurrection. However, more recent studies suggest that Yoshitada may have been selected as the heir of Yoshiie at an earlier stage. As Kawachi no kami, Yoshitada was the governor of a Jogoku province, (the second highest of four classes of provinces), while Yoshichika, who was the more likely successor and who is believed to have risen through rebellion, was only Tsushima no kami, the governor of a Gekoku province (the lowest class of provinces). Yoshikuni later became 加賀国, but this was still a much lower post than Kawachi no kami. This suggests that, by appointing him as Kawachi no kami, governor of the stronghold of Kawachi-Genji, Yoshiie may have already chosen Yoshitada as his successor and set in motion his rise to leadership at an early stage.

However, another argument suggests that the Imperial Court intentionally appointed Yoshitada to a higher post than his older brothers in order to create conflicts within the house of Kawachi-Genji. It is believed that Yoshichika's rebellion was driven by his resentment over the fact that his younger brother was given a higher post than he was. This argument may help to explain the future decline of Kawachi-Genji.

Family succession

After MINAMOTO no Yoshiie died in 1106, the power of Kawachi-Genji began to decline. Also, Yoshitada's older brother, Yoshichika, led a rebellion in Saigoku (the western part of Japan) and was ultimately killed by an emerging power, TAIRA no Masamori of Ise-Heishi (a Taira clan), who was his father-in-law of Yoshitada. After that, Ise-Heishi began to dominate over Kawachi-Genji. The Imperial Court, where the retired Emperor Shirakawa ran the government, came to openly prefer Ise-Heishi members in official appointments over Kawachi-Genji members who were closely associated with Sekkan-ke (the lineage which held political power as regents and advisers). The decline of Kawachi-Genji was inevitable.

Despite his young age, Yoshitada remained active in an effort to maintain the integrity of Kawachi-Genji, achieving the great feat of preventing armed priests from entering Kyoto. He also cooperated and developed close ties with the newly-risen Ise-Heishi by marrying a daughter of TAIRA no Masamori and performing for TAIRA no Tadamori as an eboshi-oya (a person who puts eboshi [formal headwear for court nobles] on a young man's head at a genpuku [coming-of-age] ceremony). While participating in the government led by the retired Emperor, Yoshitada was also working to maintain a good relationship with the Sekkan-ke, as was done in the past. As a result, he developed a good reputation and became known as 'Tenka Eimei' (Honor of the Realm). However, there were those who were displeased with Yoshitada for forming alliances with the newly-risen Ise-Heishi, such as many members of Kawachi-Genji as well as other Minamoto clans who were also resentful that Yoshitada was working with the government ruled by the retired Emperor and expanding his own power by aligning with the Ise-Heishi. Some also lacked respect for Yoshitada as he was not as influential a warrior as his father had been and so they devised a scheme to replace him.


Yoshitada's uncle, MINAMOTO no Yoshimitsu, who was displeased with Yoshitada's leadership and aspired to replace him as leader of Kawachi-Genji, arranged an attack on him through his retainer, TAIRA no Narimoto. In the battle against Saburo KASHIMA, Yoshitada was severely injured and died. Saburo KASHIMA escaped to Onjo-ji Temple, where he sought protection from Priest Kaiyo, a brother of Yoshimitsu, but was killed by him instead.

At first, it was believed that the son of MINAMOTO no Yoshitsuna (Yoshitada's uncle), MINAMOTO no Yoshiaki, and his retainer, FUJIWARA no Suekata, were responsible for the assassination. This led Yoshitada's adopted son, MINAMOTO no Tameyoshi, to attack Yoshitsuna's family and followers at Mt. Koka, where, in the end, Yoshitsuna's children killed themselves and Yoshitsuna himself was captured and exiled to Sado Island. However, it was later discovered that the other uncle, MINAMOTO no Yoshimitsu was the one behind the assassination.

As a result of this incident, Kawachi-Genji lost two influential figures, Yoshitada and Yoshitsuna, while the real mastermind behind the assassination, Yoshimitsu, fled to Hitachi Province. Only young Tameyoshi was left in Kyoto, and, without an influential guardian, the power of Kawachi-Genji began to decline.

After his death

After the loss of these key figures, Yoshiie, Yoshichika, Yoshitada and Yoshitsuna, Kawachi-Genji only had left MINAMOTO no Yoshimitsu, MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni, MINAMOTO no Yoshitoki, and MINAMOTO no Yoshitaka. Yoshikuni was under house arrest in the Kanto region due to an offense he had committed. Also, the relationship between Yoshikuni and his uncle, Yoshimitsu, who was expanding his sphere of influence in Hitachi Province in Kanto, was so bad that they fought against each other (some believe that Yoshitada and Yoshikuni had an alliance against their uncle, Yoshimitsu). As a result, the power of Kawachi-Genji in Kanto gradually diminished as well. Although Yoshitoki received Ishikawa sho (a manor in medieval Japan) in Kawachi Province from Yoshitada, he did not have much power. Yoshitaka was young and had no rank. Therefore, after Yoshitada's death, Tameyoshi became the leader of Kawachi-Genji.

However, Tameyoshi was also young and lacked the military prowess of his real father, MINAMOTO no Yoshichika, and the political influence of his foster father, Yoshitada, and so Kawachi-Genji became overshadowed by Ise-Heishi. The dream for the revival of Kawachi-Genji was passed down to Tameyoshi's son, MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo, but it was not until the time of Yoshitomo's son, MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, that it would come true. After the death of Yoshitada, the Taira clan enjoyed a golden era during which all Kawachi-Genji could do was wait patiently for their time to come.


The adopted son of Yoshitada: MINAMOTO no Tameyoshi (the fifth son of Yoshichika and the fifth leader of Kawachi-Genji)
The first son of Yoshitada: Tsunekuni KAWACHI (Genta Tsunekuni KAWACHI)
He was a retainer of MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni and participated in the Hogen War as a close associate of MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo. He was also part of the Kawachi clan.

The first son of Tsunekuni: MINAMOTO no Moritsune of Kawachi-Genji (Kogenta Moritsune INASAWA, ancestor of the Inasawa clan)
The second son of Tsunekuni: Renshun (a priest of Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Hiei)
The second son of Yoshitada: MINAMOTO no Yoshitaka, awarded Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade), and appointed to Sahyoe no gon no suke (Provisional Assistant Master of the Left Military Guard) and Hyogo no suke. The descendants of this lineage used MINAMOTO as their family name throughout generations; materials from the Edo period show that they used MINAMOTO as both their 'myoji' (a part of the family name used before the Meiji Restoration which was based on the person's place of residence) and 'sei' (a part of the family name used before the Meiji Restoration which indicates a person's lineage). After the Meiji Restoration, they continued to use MINAMOTO as their 'sei' (the family name according to the current definition).

The first son of Yoshitaka: MINAMOTO no Yoshinari, awarded Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade) and appointed to Kawachi no kami (Governor of Kawachi Province)
The first son of Yoshinari: MINAMOTO no Yoshitoshi, appointed to Iyo no Gon no Suke (Provisional Vice Governor of Iyo Province) and Saemon no jo (Third-ranking Officer of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards)
The third son of Yoshitada: MINAMOTO no Tadamune (Genta Tadamune OBU), built the Obu sho (a medieval Japanese manor) in Moda District, Kazusa Province

The first son of Tadamune: MINAMOTO no Sueto (?)
The grandson of Tadamune: Suesada OBU, commonly known as Gen Daifu Hogan
He was a samurai-daisho (a samurai who leads troops in battle) of the Taira clan.
There are various opinions about Suesada's origin; some believe that he was descended from MINAMOTO no Mitsuyoshi, while others believe that he was from Kai-Genji (a branch of the Kawachi-Genji that settled in Kai Province)
Toramasa OBU is believed to be his descendant. He was the ancestor of the Obu clan.

The fourth son of Yoshitada: MINAMOTO no Yoshikiyo, awarded Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade), and appointed to Sakyo no gon no daibu (Provisional Master of the Eastern Capital Offices)
The descendants of this lineage used MINAMOTO as their family name throughout generations; materials from the Edo period show that they used MINAMOTO as both their 'myoji' and 'sei'. After the Meiji Restoration, they continued to use MINAMOTO as their 'sei'.

The first son of Yoshikiyo: MINAMOTO no Yoshihisa, appointed to Inaba no suke (Assistant Governor of Inaba Province) and Saemon no jo (Third-ranking Officer of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards)
The first son of Yoshihisa: MINAMOTO no Yoshitaka, awarded Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade), and appointed to Kunai no sho (Junior Assistant Minister of the Imperial Household Agency)
The fifth son of Yoshitada: MINAMOTO no Yoshikatsu
The descendants of this lineage used MINAMOTO as their family name throughout generations; materials from the Edo period show that they used MINAMOTO as both their 'myoji' and 'sei'. After the Meiji Restoration, they continued to use MINAMOTO as their 'sei'.

The Inazawa clan (descendants of Tsunekuni) and the Obu clan (descendants of Tadamune) are the descendants of Yoshitada.

The majority of Yoshitada's descendants became Hokumen no bushi (Imperial Palace Guards for the North Side), Togu Toneri (Officers of the Crown Prince's palace) or held posts at Konoefu (Headquarters of the Inner Palace Guards). Some were in the Kanto region or Kawachi Province and participated in the Genpei War (the war between the Minamoto clan and the Taira clan).

Among them, MINAMOTO no Suesada, the grandson of his third son, MINAMOTO no Tadamune, gained great fame in the war. He was commonly known as Gen Daifu Hogan after his great-grandfather and joined the Genpei War as a commander of the Taira clan, achieving great feats including the defeat of Ishikawa-Genji (descendants of MINAMOTO no Yoshitoki, the younger brother of Yoshitada). He was captured when the Taira clan was defeated in Dannoura, but his life was spared because of his links to the Minamoto clan and also as a reward for his son, Munesue's military exploits for the Minamoto clan.

The first son of Yoshitada, Tsunekuni KAWACHI, was believed to be under the patronage of MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni. In the Hogen War, after Yoshikuni's death, Tsunekuni acted with Masakiyo KAMATA as a close associate of Yoshitomo (according to "the Tale of Hogen"). Details of the life of Tsunekuni's son, Moritsune, are unknown, but becuase his name (盛経) contains the character "盛", some people believe that he was connected to the Taira clan. Others believe he was a retainer of the Taira clan who served under MINAMOTO no Suesada, and fell in Shinohara in a battle against MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka in the Hokuriku region.

Some descendants of Yoshitada fought against the Minamoto clan even though they were the descendants of the former leader of Kawachi-Genji. This is perhaps because they failed to succeed (according to Takayuki OKUTOMI). Also, one study indicates that, after his death, Yoshitada's sons were fostered in the house of TAIRA no Tadamori as his wife was Tadamori's older sister. If this was the case, it is understandable that Yoshitada's descendants followed the Taira clan but not the Minamoto clan.

Incidentally, MINAMOTO no Mitsuyuki and Chikayuki, the parent and child who were literati statesmen, poets, and scholars of the Tale of Genji in the early Kamakura period, were also the descendants of Yoshitada and thrived as literati.

Nevertheless, Yoshitada's descendants were set apart from other Kawachi-Genji members.

Reference: "Sonpi Bunmyaku" (a text compiled in the fourteenth century that records the lineages of the aristocracy)


In 1083, Yoshitada was born. Gosannen no Eki (the Later Three Years' War) broke out.

In 1086, the Insei system (the rule of the retired Emperor) began.

In 1087, Gosannen no Eki ended.

In 1091, the donation of shoen (manors in medieval Japan) to MINAMOTO no Yoshiie was suspended.
MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni was born?

In 1092, the establishment of shoen by MINAMOTO no Yoshiie was banned.

In 1095, Hokumen no bushi (Imperial Palace Guards for the North Side) was established.

In 1096, Yoshitada became Tachihaki no osa (Guard Chief of the Emperor, Crown Prince and the Palace).

In 1097, TAIRA no Masamori donated his shoen to the retired Emperor.

In 1098, MINAMOTO no Yoshiie was permitted to access to the Imperial Court. Yoshitada became Saemon no jo (Third-ranking Officer of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards).

In 1100, Yoshitada became Kawachi no kami (Governor of Kawachi Province).

In 1101, MINAMOTO no Yoshichika was summoned because of his rampant behavior.

In 1102, MINAMOTO no Yoshichika was exiled to Oki Island.

In 1104, Yoshitada became Saemon no gon no suke (Provisional Assistant Master of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards) and returned to Kyoto.

In 1106, MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni and MINAMOTO no Yoshimitsu fought against each other in Hitachi province and the command for capture was issued for both. Yoshiie became a priest and died thereafter.

In 1107, the command for TAIRA no Masamori to track and kill MINAMOTO no Yoshichika was issued. Yoshitada assumed an additional post as Kebiishi (Official with judicial and police powers).

In 1108, MINAMOTO no Yoshichika was killed by TAIRA no Masamori and the insurrection was suppressed.

In 1109, Yoshitada was assassinated.

Note: There is convincing evidence that suggests Yoshikuni was born in the year mentioned in this timeline and therefore, according to this timeline, Yoshitada was Yoshikuni's older brother. According to popular belief, Yoshiie's sons, in order of birth, are Yoshimune, Yoshichika, Yoshikuni, Yoshitada, Yoshitoki, Yoshitaka. However, according to the time of birth presented in this timeline, the order should be Yoshimune, Yoshichika, Yoshitada, Yoshikuni. The time of birth of Yoshimune and Yoshicika are unknown. Of Yoshiie's sons, only Yoshitada's time of birth is known.

[Original Japanese]