Taira no Norimori (平教盛)

TAIRA no Norimori was a busho (Japanese military commander) in the late Heian period. He was the fourth son of TAIRA no Tadamori. He was the younger half-brother of TAIRA no Kiyomori. His sons were TAIRA no Michimori, and TAIRA no Noritsune.

He fought in the Hogen War and the Heiji War under his elder brother, Kiyomori. As the Taira clan came into power, he achieved great success, and was called 'Kadowaki Saisho' (prime minister who resides at the gate of Rokuhara) or 'Kadowaki Chunagon' (vice-councilor of state who resides at the gate of Rokuhara). At the occasion of of the Shishigatani Conspiracy, as FUJIWARA no Naritsune, who was Norimori's son-in-law was implicated in the plot, Norimori made efforts to petition the court for mercy. In the Jisho-Juei War, he mainly provided logistic support. His lost his eldest son Michimori, and other sons as well in the Battle of Ichi no tani. After suffering defeat in the naval Battle at Dan no ura, Norimori committed suicide, throwing himself into the sea along with his brother Tsunemori.

Biography
He fought in the Hogen War under his elder brother, Kiyomori, in 1156. Because of his fame on the battlefield, he was permitted access to the Imperial court.

During the fray of the Heiji War in 1159, Kiyomori rescued Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa and Emperor Nijo from the Imperial palace and then proceeded to attack MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo and FUJIWARA no Nobuyori, who were barricaded in the Imperial palace; meanwhile, Norimori, Kiyomori's eldest son, along with his younger brothers TAIRA no Shigemori and Yorimori, served as commanding generals leading an attack on Rokuhara. 重盛が侍賢門、頼盛が郁方門を攻撃し、敗走したとみせかけて源氏を内裏からおびき出し、その間に内応者に陽明門を開けさせて内裏を占領する働きをした。While Shigemori attacked the Jiken-mon Gate and Yorimori the Yuho-mon Gate, Norimori acted as a decoy by feignting that he was fleeing in retreat, drawing the troops of the Minamoto clan from the Imperial palace, after which he had his man on the inside open the Yomei-mon Gate and took possession of the Imperial palace. Seeing as his retreat was blocked, Yoshitomo attacked Rokuhara with all the forces at his command; however, they were soon exhausted, and made their escape. The Heiji War ended with Kiyomori the victor.

After the Heiji War, Norimori was granted the court rank of Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and appointed as Hitachi no suke (Assistant Governor of Hitachi Province); however, he was dismissed from his post and stripped of his rank on October 12, 1161 because he was implicated in a plot against Emperor Nijo, in which he was accused of attempting to have install Emperor Takakura (later to become Emperor Takakura) on the throne. This state of affairs was brought about by the confrontation between the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa and Emperor Nijo. At this juncture, TAIRA no Tokitada (Kiyomori's brother-in-law) and FUJIWARA no Narichica, who were close to the Retired Emperor, were also dismissed. The next year, Norimori was reinstated, being appointed to the post of zuryo (provincial governor) of Noto Province.

In 1168, He was promoted to the court rank of Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) and Sangi (councillor), he was called as 'Kadowaki Saisho' (Chancellor lived at the gate of Rokuhara) because he lived near the main gate of Rokuhara.

In May 1177, when monks from the Enryaku-ji Temple rose in riot and surged toward the ingosho (the retired Emperor's court), Norimori guarded the imperial palace. In June 1177, the Shishigatani plot was exposed. The lead conspirators were FUJIWARA no Narichika, Saiko and Shunkan, and Narichika's son, FUJIWARA no Naritsune, who was Norimori's son-in-law. At the time, because Norimori's daughter was pregnant, Norimori and Naritsune petitioned Kiyomori for mercy; Kiyomori, however, would not even grant them an audience, and sentenced Naritsune to death by beheading. Norimori's reaction to this decision was to tell Kiyomori that he himself would renounce the world and become a Buddhist monk if Kiyomori were to execute Naritsune, whereupon Kiyomori finally relented, agreeing to put Naritsune under Norimori's charge.

The punishment of the perpetrators was decided, with Naritsune being exiled to Bicchu Province, and then to a remote island called Kikai ga-shima Island in Satsuma Province. Norimori, pitying his son-in-law, petitioned Kiyomori to grant amnesty to Naritsune as a gesture of magnanimity expressing his wish for the safe child birth of Empress TAIRA no Tokuko; Kiyomori accepted this petition, and in the following year, 1178, Naritsune was granted amnesty and returned to Kyoto.

Prince Mochihito's plot to rise in arms was discovered in June, 1180. Norimori was appointed as one of the generals to lead the mission to capture and execute Prince Mochihito, who had fled, taking refuge in Onjo-ji Temple (Prince Mochihito's rising in arms).

In February 1181, a, leap year, Norimori's brother, Kiyomori died. This marked the start of the decline of status for the Taira family.

In November 1181, faced with increasing unrest along the Hokuriku-do Road, Norimori, along with his brothers Yorimori and Tsunemori secured themselves inside the capital, Kyoto. As his son, Michimori, was the governor of Echizen Province and was in charge of defense of northern provinces, he had repeatedly engaged the forces of MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka in battle.

In 1182, Norimori was promoted to the court rank of Junii (Junior Second Rank) and Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state), after which he was came to be called 'Kadowaki Chunagon' (vice-councilor of state who resides at the gate of Rokuhara).

Flight of the Taira family from the capital
In fighting from April to May 1183, the Hokuriku expeditionary force under the command of TAIRA no Koremori was defeated by MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka. Norimori's son Michimori was also routed, and escaped to Kyoto. In July 1183, it became impossible for the Taira family to hold the capital, Kyoto, so they left.

The Taira family set up headquarters in Yashima, Sanuki Province, and in November 1183, Norimori, along with his sons Michimori and Noritsune, took part in the Battle of Mizushima, emerging victorious. Then, in December 1183, Norimori took part in the Battle of Muroyama as a commanding general along with TAIRA no Shigehira, and they defeated the army of MINAMOTO no Yukiie. In February 1184, Yoshinaka was defeated by MINAMOTO no Noriyori and MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune who had been dispatched by the Kamakura bakufu ('Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

Meanwhile, the Taira family had advanced to Fukuwara-kyo District, Settsu Province, and Norimori and his sons subdued rebel groups in western districts; especially, Norimori's second son, Noritsune, fought valiantly. On March 24, 1184, a Buddhist memorial service for Kiyomori's death, and a Jimoku ceremony (a ceremony at which officials are appointed, the Taira family had right to conduct the Jimoku ceremony because they had Emperor Antoku, and the three sacred treasures of the Imperial family were in their possession) were held in Fukuhara District, with the court rank of Shonii (Senior Second Rank) and the post of Dainagon (Chief councilor) being conferred on Norimori; however, he declined to accept the rank and post. On the same day, Kamakura bakufu armies under the command of Noriyori and Yoshitsune left Kyoto.

On February 7, the Taira family was defeated in the Battle of Ichi no tani, at which Norimori's sons Michimori, Noritsune, and Narimori met their deaths on the battlefield (it is said that Noritsune survived the battle). Kozaisho, who was Michimori's wife and was pregnant, commited suicide by drowning after her husband died. Norimori, having lost his children, felt increasingly apprehensive and insecure.

Subsequently, the Taira family was defeated in the Battle of Yashima, and escaped to the Hiko-shima Island, Nagato Province. In April 1185, the Battle of Dan no ura took place, at which the Taira clan, having exhausted itself, suffered a final defeat and was vanquished. Most members of the Taira family, starting with Nii no ama (Kiyomori's wife) and Emperor Antoku, threw themselves into the sea. Norimori and his elder brother, Tsunemori, tied anchors to their armor, clasped one another's hand, and cast themselves into the sea together. Norimori died at the age of 58.

Record of office and rank
* Date = old lunar calendar
1148 (21 years old)
February 26: Appointed to the post of Sakone no shogen (Lieutenant of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards)
Appointed to the post of Tobain hogandai (an administrative official of the retired Emperor Toba's Office)

March 4: Appointed to the post of keeper of imperial archives
May 22: Promoted to the court rank of Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade)

1151 (24 years old)
February 26: Appointed to the post of Awaji no kami (Governor of Awaji Province)

1153 (26 years old)
February 7: Promoted to the court rank of Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade), (granted by the retired Emperor Sutoku)

1157 (30 years old)
December 2: Promoted to the court rank of Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade), in recognition of his having overseen the construction of the Inmei-mon Gate

1158 (31 years old)
May 8: Appointed to the post of Sama gon no kami (Provisional Captain of Samaryo, Left Division of Bureau of Horses), held concurrently with his other posts
January 27, 1159: Appointed to the post of Yamato no kami (Governor of Yamato Province)
Remained in the position of Sama gon no kami (Provisional Captain of Samaryo, Left Division of Bureau of Horses)

1159 (32 years old)
January 30: Promoted to the court rank of Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade)
February 13, 1160: Appointed to the post of Ecchu no kami (Governor of Ecchu Province), in recognition of his valor in the Heiji War
Remained in the position of Sama gon no kami

1160 (33 years old)
March 7: Appointed to the post of Hitachi no suke (Vice governor of Hitachi Province)
Remained in the position of Sama gon no kami

July 15: Promoted to the court rank of Jushiinojo (Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade), in recognition of his brother Kiyomori's having killed Michiyoshi (通能), who lived in Hizen Province
November 17: Promoted to the court rank of Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade)

1161 (34 years old)
October 12: Dismissed from his posts

1162 (35 years old)
September 5: Reinstated to his posts
Appointed to the post of Noto no Kami (Governor of Noto Province)

1164 (37 years old)
March 9: Appointed to the post of Kura no kami (Chief of Kuraryo, Bureau of Palace Storehouses), held concurrently with his other posts

1165 (38 years old)
January 12, 1166: Resigned as Noto no kami

1166 (39 years old)
October 10: Apppointed to the post of Togu no suke (Assistant Master in the Crown Prince's Quarters), held concurrently with his other posts

1168 (41 years old)
March 29: Resigned as Togu no suke (due to the accession of Emperor Takakura)
Appointed to the post of Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain)

September 13: Appointed to the post of Sangi (councillor)
September 15: Promoted to the court rank of Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank)

1169 (42 years old)
February 16: Appointed to the post of Tanba no gon no kami (provisional governor of Tanba Province)

1174 (47 years old)
March 3: Reappointed as Tanba no gon no kami (provisional governor of Tanba Province)

1178 (51 years old)
Resigned as Tanba no gon no kami

1181 (54 years old)
December 4, Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state)

1182 (55 years old)
April 1: Junii (Junior Second Rank)

1183 (56 years old)
May 5: Appointed to the post of Chunagon (vice-councilor of state)
September 1: Dismissed from his posts