Hyoefu (the Middle Palace Guards) (兵衛府)

The Middle Palace Guard was an administrative office in the Ritsuryo system. The Middle Palace Guard consisted of the Left and the Right Divisions. Hyoe no kami (Captain) headed the Left and the Right Divisions of Middle Palace Guard. It was called "Rokuefu" (the Six Palace Guards) along with the Left and the Right Divisions of Inner Palace Guard and the Left and the Right Divisions of Outer Palace Guard.
Its Japanese name was 'Tsuwamono no toneri no tsukasa.'
Its Chinese name was Buei.

History

The Middle Palace Guard was created during the reign of Emperor Tenmu to attend to or guard the Emperor and his family by enhancing and expanding the function of valets chosen from children of the regional administrators. After the Taiho Code was established, it split into Left and Right Divisions. In the Yoro Code, the names of the internal posts were changed. Under the rule of FUJIWARA no Nakamaro, it was renamed "Kohonei" in 758, but six years later, the former name was restored with the fall of Nakamaro. With the decline of the regional administrators and locally appointed officials in the provinces, the Middle Palace Guard gave the reins of power to the newly established Inner Palace Guard, and subsequently became downsized.

Internal posts

Hyoe no kami (Captain)

One person was assigned to each of the Left and the Right Divisions.
Captain corresponded to 'Kami' out of the Shitokan (administrative officials divided into four ranks: Kami, Suke, Jo, and Sakan)
There was no substitute post for Captain. In the Ritsuryo system, it was a position corresponding to Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade), but was upgraded to Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) on June 9, 799. A written form was '率' in the Taiho Code (the reading was the same). The Captain often served concurrently as Middle Counselor or Royal Advisor (Second Rank or Third Court Rank), and traditionally, one out of four Captains, including Captains of the Left and the Right Divisions of the Outer Palace Guard, served as the head of the Police and Judicial Chief offices. However, there were extensive appointments; the Captain also held the post of Major Controller, or Middle Controller, and served concurrently in the Inner Palace Guard; a Captain was sometimes chosen amongst those who were of Fifth Rank. Captain was such a post that was provided for court nobles of Second or Third Rank including non-Royal Advisor or Sani (a person who had the court rank but no official post).

Suke (Assistant)

One person was assigned to each of the Left and the Right Divisions. It corresponded to 'Suke' out of the Shitokan, and there was a substitute post for Assistant (Gon no suke). In the Ritsuryo system, it was a post corresponding to Shorokuinoge (Senior Sixth Rank, Lower Grade), but was upgraded to Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade) on June 9, 799. A written form was '翼' in the Taiho Code (the reading was the same). An assistant often served concurrently as Lesser Counselor, and when there was no vacant post for a person who was transferred from the Bureau of Horses to the Inner Palace Guard, he was temporarily appointed assistant to wait the availability of the post of Middle Captain. The most prominent figure that was appointed Uhyoe gon no suke (a substitute post for an assistant in the Right Division of Middle Palace Guard) was MINAMOTO no Yoritomo. After Yoritomo was appointed to this post at the Heiji Disturbance, he spent his life as an exile for as long as twenty years (he was deprived of his official post during that time) and defeated the Taira family. He retained this post for three decades (officially ten years in total) till he was appointed Gon Dainagon (Substitute Major Councilor) in 1189.
So, Yoritomo's vassals respectfully called him 'Suke dono.'

Jo (Lieutenant)

There were two posts: 'Senior Lieutenant' corresponding to Shoshichiinojo (Senior Seventh Rank, Upper Grade) and 'Junior Lieutenant' corresponding to Jushichiinojo (Junior Seventh Rank, Upper Grade); and they were equivalent to 'Jo' out of the Shitokan. At first, one person was assigned to each of the Left and the Right Divisions, but two persons were assigned to Junior Lieutenant of the Left and the Right Divisions on June 9, 799, and then in 1148, the number of Senior and Junior Lieutenants dramatically increased to twenty in each Division. In 1158, the number further increased to twenty five.

Sakan (Assistant Lieutenant)

There were two posts: 'Senior Assistant Lieutenant' corresponding to Juhachiinojo (Junior Eighth Rank, Upper Grade) and 'Junior Assistant Lieutenant' corresponding to Juhachiinoge (Junior Eighth Rank, Lower Grade); they were equivalent to 'Sakan' out of the Shitokan. One person each was assigned to the Left and Right Divisions. On June 9, 799, two persons were assigned to Junior Assistant Lieutenant of the Left and the Right Divisions, and the rank of Senior Assistant Lieutenant was upgraded to Shohachiinojo (Senior Eighth Rank, Upper Grade); the rank of Junior Assistant Lieutenant was also upgraded to Juhachiinojo (Junior Eighth Rank, Upper Grade).

Ishi (Physician)

One person each was assigned to the Left and Right Divisions. They corresponded to Juhachiinojo (Junior Eighth Rank, Upper Grade). It was created in 721.

Bancho (low-level executive official)

Four persons each were assigned to the Left and Right Divisions.

Hyoe (palace guards)

400 people each were assigned to the Left and Right Divisions. Provincial governors recommended and selected Hyoe from the following: children of those who were of Eighth Rank upwards to Sixth Rank downwards at the age of twenty-one and above; and children of locally appointed officials under the Ritsuryo system who were good at archery and horseback riding. In 808, the number of Hyoe was reduced to 300 in the Left and Right Divisions, and then to 200 in 891.

There were other posts as follows:
Jikicho (Two persons each were assigned to the Left and Right Divisions.)
Shicho (Four persons each were assigned to the Left and Right Divisions.)
Fusho (low-level official) (temporarily assigned from the Ministry of the Military; the number of personnel was unknown)
Anju (secretary) (One person each was assigned to the Left and Right Divisions.)
Fusho (One person each was assigned to the Left and Right Divisions.)
Kichijo (subordinate official) (The number of personnel was unknown.)
Tsukaibe (handyman) (Thirty persons each were assigned to the Left and Right Divisions.)
Kayocho (palanquin bearer) (Fifty persons each were assigned to the Left and Right Divisions.)

The extent of its purview

In the Outer Palace Precincts, the assigned areas included the following: the outside of the Senyo, the Jomei, the Inmei, and the Genki Gates; and the inside of the Kenshun, the Kenrei, the Gishu, and the Sakuhei Gates.
Compared with the other Six Palace Guards, the Middle Palace Guard was assigned especially to important tasks, such as escorting the Emperor or keeping a night watch in the Imperial Palace so, it functioned virtually as a 'bodyguard.'
It also monitored guardsmen selected from the common people so that they could not rebel against the Emperor or attack the Imperial Palace. It protected the Emperor's procession. It also made night patrols around the city of Kyoto.