Oe no Hiromoto (大江広元)

OE no Hiromoto (1148 - July 23, 1225) was a governmental official responsible for practical works from the end of the Heian period to the early Kamakura period. He was the first chief officer of Administrative Board for Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

He was originally a government official from lower-ranking nobles that served the Imperial Court, went down to Kamakura to be an official as a close adviser for MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, and contributed to the establishment of the Kamakura bakufu.

Since OE was a real name and not a family name, it should be read as 'OE no Hiromoto' not as 'OE Hiromoto' to be exact.

Brief biography

According to "Koshi kafu," Hiromoto was a son of FUJIWARA no Mitsuyoshi, and he was said to have been brought up under NAKAHARA no Hirosue who was a remarried husband of his mother. However, in "Sonpi Bunmyaku" and 'Oe shi keizu,' OE no Koremitsu was stated as being his real father, while NAKAHARA no Hirosue was stated as being his adaptive father. Meanwhile, in "Zoku-Gunsho-Ruiju" and the 'Nakahara keizu,' NAKAHARA no Hirosue was stated as being his real father and OE no Koremitsu was stated as his adaptive father, leaving the truth laregly unclear.

He was called NAKAHARA no Hiromoto, at first. He changed his family name to OE much later, around 1216. His kyokkan (the highest rank one was appointed) was Senior Fourth Rank, the governor of Mutsu Province.

Nakahara no Chikayoshi, who was Hiromoto's elder brother, was close to MINAMOTO no Yoritomo and left Kyoto early to follow Yoritomo. Chikayoshi went up to Kyoto with MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune's force in October 1183 and reentered Kyoto on New Years Day, 1184 to perform various affairs as a local governor serving Yoritomo; he was also active as a negotiator with court nobles. With his relationship with Chikayoshi, Hiromoto also went down to Kamakura in 1184, and became a chief officer of administration office which was the precursor of Mandokoro. What's more, after Yoritomo established Administrative Borad as the second court rank, Major Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards, he was active as a chief officer to carry out negotiations with the imperial court and to handle other affairs as a practician.

According to an entry of the Eleventh Month, 12th, 1185 of "Azuma Kagami," it was commonly believed among scholars in the old days that the establishment of provincial constable and manager and lord of manor by Yoritomo was realized due to Hiromoto's proposal. However in 1960, Tadashi ISHIMODA further analyzed this issue, and pointed out that it was a composition written based on a theory common in the latter half of the Kamakura period, instead of written based on the bakufu's records.
That started a feverish controversy, and now it is regarded that Hiromoto's proposed policy; 'imposing tax on rice (five-sho per tan) regardless of private estate or public estate' was not for 'all the provinces,' but for 'Goki (Yamato, Yamashiro, Settsu, Kochi and Izumi Provinces), the Sanin (mountain provinces behind the Sanyo or Inland Sea provinces), the Sanyo (Inland Sea provinces), the Nankai (southern provinces), and the Saikai (provinces on the western seacoast).'
Besides, the position of 'provincial constable' was not established this time; the establishment of 'provincial steward' and 'General Constable' in each province for the purpose of searching and capturing MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune and MINAMOTO no Yukiie, which was of nominal priority, ordered in 1185, and the origin of provincial constable which would continue until the Muromachi period lay in the authority which was agreed between Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa, Kanezane KUJO and Yoritomo to enforce 'provincial constables in all the provinces' when Yoritomo came out to Kyoto for the first time in 1190.

Yoritomo died in 1199; thereafter he participated in the administration of the shogunate government in collaboration with Yoshitoki HOJO and Masako HOJO. During the Jokyu Disturbance, he had a conflict with his eldest son, OE no Chikahiro who was on the emperor's side. However, according to "Azuma Kagami," Hiromoto was on the bakufu's side, and was regarded one of contributors behind the scene who led the bakufu army to victory in collaboration with Masako HOJO, who advocated war and encouraged reluctant direct vassals of the shogun to fight against the Imperial Court.
However, the above-mentioned issue was considered suspicious as the issue of 'provincial constable and General Constable.'
It is certain that Hiromoto was the head of the court officials in the Kamakura bakufu and was in a critical position, which are proved by the existence of documents with signatures of Shogunal regent Yoshitoki HOJO, and Hiromoto in gathering forces for Yoshimori WADA's disturbance and a suit for territory; and Hiromoto's own interactions with imperial nobles such as Michichika TSUCHIMIKADO whom Yoritomo didn't have any particular interactions with.

Chronological record

Month and year unknown, he became a Distinguished Scholars of Confucianism.

On January 19, 1169, he was appointed to Secretary at Bureau of the Wardrobe and Court Ladies.

On January 19, 1171, he was transferred to provisional junior secretary.

On March 3, 1171, he was transferred to Junior Secretary.

On February 25, 1173, he was appointed to Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade.

Month and date unknown, he was involved in government affairs of Kanezane KUJO.

On May 9, 1183, he was appointed to Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade.

In 1184, he left Kyoto for Kamakura, Sagami Province. He assumed the post of chief officer of administration office which took charge of MINAMOTO no Yoritomo's domestic service.

On October 30, he was appointed to Governor of Inaba Province.

On May 11, 1185, he was promoted to Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade. He remained in the position of Governor of Inaba Province.

Administration office was changed into Administrative Borad and he remained in the position of chief officer when MINAMOTO no Yoritomo became a court noble on June 4 (different theories; administration office and Administrative Borad coexisted, and he assumed the position of chief officer in addition to another position in Administrative Borad).

On August 3, he resigned as Inaba no kami.

On May 2, 1191, he was appointed to teacher of the law in the Ritsuryo system and Senior Lieutenant at the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards. He was appointed to a police and judicial chief.

On November 30, he resigned from Myobo hakase.

On April 12, 1192, he resigned from police and judicial chief and Senior Lieutenant at the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards.

On March 6, 1196, he was appointed to Head of Hyogo.

On January 4, 1200, he was appointed to Director at the Bureau of Palace Upkeep.

In May 1200, he was transferred to Master of the Palace Table.

In 1203, he resigned from Master of the Palace Table.

In 1206, he resigned from Director of the Administrative Board of the Kamakura bakufu.

On February 4, 1213, he was promoted to Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade.

On February 23, 1214, he was promoted to Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade.

On February 23, 1216, he was assigned to the governor of Mutsu Province.

On July 24, change of his real name into OE was approved by the Imperial Court.

In August he reassumed the post of Director of the Administrative Board of the Kamakura bakufu.

On December 17, 1217, he resigned from the governor of Mutsu Province. He became a priest and referred to himself as Kakua.
(Shogunal regent Yoshitoki HOJO of the Kamakura bakufu took over his post as Mutsu no Kami)

On July 23, 1225, he died. He was seventy-eight years old.

Descendants

Hiromoto's eldest son, OE no Chikahiro successively held the positions of Director of the Administrative Board, provincial constable of Kyoto, etc., but he ran away when he took the Imperial Court side and it was defeated in the Jokyu Disturbance, and stayed in Sagae no so, Dewa Province. The Sagae clan was said to be descended from OE no Chikahiro.

Hiromoto's second son, Hirotoki NAGAI became a provincial constable of Bingo Province, and his descendants, at least from his son, Yasuhide NAGAI, filled critical posts in the Kamakura bakufu such as a member of Council of State as a direct blood line of the Oe clan after his elder brother, Chikahiro lost his position in the Jokyu Disturbance. Munehide NAGAI, the fifth descendant from Hiromoto became a member of the top decision making council, and was estimated as a compiler of "Azuma Kagami."

Hiromoto's third son, Munemoto's career was unknown. Masashige NAWA, the child of Munemoto became a Lieutenant the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards in 1239, he was conferred a peerage as Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade in 1241, and promoted to Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade, before finally becoming Coadjutors of the High Court in 1254.

Hiromoto's fourth son, Suemitsu MORI was conferred a peerage as Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade at the age of 16 in 1216, and became a member of Council of State at the age of 32 according to the article "Azuma Kagami"on November 3, 1233. When the Battle of Hoji occurred in 1247, Suemitsu was on Yasumura MIURA's side and committed suicide with the Miura family at Hokke-do which was the private Buddha statue hall for MINAMOTO no Yoritomo. Suemitsu's fourth son, Tsunemitsu MORI was not involved in the incident as he was in Echigo and inherited the territory. Tsunemitsu's second son, Tokichika inherited Nanjo and Yoshidanosho, Aki Province. Tokichika founded the Aki-Mori family, a territorial lord in the Sengoku period, which descended to Motonari MORI. In addition, the Echigo-Kitajo clan in Echigo Province decended from a son of Tokichika.

Hiromoto's fifth son, Tadashige KAITO was conferred a peerage as Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade in 1227, and later advanced to Junior Forth Rank, Lower Grade. He became a member of Council of state in 1245, but resigned with suspicion of supporting his brother in the Battle of Hoji.

Many clans including the Sakai clan in Mikawa Province, the Inaba-Mori clan in Inaba Province, the Tago clan in Izumo Province seemed to be originated in Hiromoto OE, although their authenticity remains uncertain.

Note

Hiroshima City (広島市) was named after taking the character 広 from Hiromoto 広元 who was the ancestor of the Mori clan, when Hiromoto's descendant, Terumoto MORI performed a ritual of spading the ground of the newly built Hiroshima-jo castle in 1589 (various theories as to this).