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Questions about Heian (and a bit of Asuka/Nara) period(s)

deimos

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Hi,
I'm writing an essay for school about the Heian period.I've found a book that describes the big picture well enough, but there are quite a few really confusing details that almost appears to be errors. I would be really grateful if someone could help me to make some things clear.

(Eeeek! This turned out really long. And a bit complicated/confused. Well, any help is truly appreciated.)

1. In, I think, the Asuka-period, (in the year 660) it says that Japan was sending helping soliders to a nation called something like "Paekche", and failed completly in this aiding. When this happened, the clan that as responsible for the failure went down and dissappeared from the scene. Instead begun the struggle between two other clans (Mononobe and Soga) which ended with Soga clan taking the power, and later on even the power to rule japan, with a powerless emperor. Then Naka no Oe, another "prince" from the emperor family seized the power from them (the Soga). Here is the weird thing: my book says that after the prince took the power, he moved the capital. This was in 645, which obviously is 15 years before the event that triggered the prince's coup.)
Is that a simple missprint, or what? And if it is, then what preceeded the Soga clan coming to power? What happened at that time?

2. This book says that in the end of the Nara period(or perhaps the begining of the Heian), Fujiara no Fuhita married his daughter to the emperor, making her empress. My first question on this is:
Which emperor? The "prince" from the previous question, the one who Fujiwara no Kamatiri helped to power?
Then, the book proceeds, when all sons of Fuhito had died, the power of the family was moved to Tachibana no Moroe, a stepbrother of the empress. As i get it, they canツエt possibly mean the power of the Fujwiara family - or, can they? Can they then be talking about the emperor family? But then, that would have to mean that those sons COULD have been emperors. Is(was) it that easy to be married into the family? Iツエm really confused on this one. Please, try to straighten things out.

3. This wonderful book then states that the Fujiwara clan( during the late Heian/Fujiwara era) managed to hold on to their powerful positions by always being the wifes, and thus also the mothers and the uncles(etc), of the emperor family.
But if a fujiwara was the mother of an emperor, would that not mean that the next emperor was also, in a way, fuijiwara? Would that not be enough to influence? Why keep this "game" of marrying every emperor to a Fujiwara? Does it have something to do with the womanツエs status in Heian Japan?(which I thought was rather high compared to, for example, Europe at the same time)

4. In the part about shoen, it describes how those govermental allotments of earth became private and how the large goods with almost its own laws arose, and with that the warrior classes. It also describes some of the first wars (like "shohei no ran", 935) between clans and among goods, and how the Fujiwara dominance at the court made it impossible for the other noble clans to get any influence there, and therefore trying as "government officials" and as owners of large goods. My question is;

What were the relation between the owners of these goods, who broke the laws of the central goverment, and the central goverment? Pure, armed enmity? Or were things on a more formal plane? The book(well, I should have used a capital B for the almost religious effect, but what the hell.... it will do anyway) mentions the clans Genji and Heike, who were strong in east respective west japan.
What does strong mean here? That they had high offices? That they had large armies, and were opposing the goverment?
And this central government, was that all the time the same as the Fujiwara clan and its emperor "pawns"? Or did those contrasts between the local and governmental/global power begin even earlier?

And, at last, on last question: The Genji and The Heike clan both seem to have alternative (double) names. Wich are they, and why did those exist?

As i said, ANY help is really, really appreciated.

(Oh, and by the way, I'm new here. I'm not interested in Japan just because I'm writing an essay about it - I'm writing an essay about Japan because I'm interested in "it". I'll introduce myself at that introducing board soon, as soon as I don't have an essay to finish.)
 

Elizabeth

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Originally posted by deimos
Hi,
Iツエm writing an essay for school about the Heian period.Iツエve found a book that describes the big picture well enough, but there are quite a few really confusing details that almost appears to be errors. I would be really grateful if someone could help me to make some things clear.

(Eeeek! This turned out really long. And a bit complicated/confused. Well, any help is truly appreciated.)

1. In, I think, the Asuka-period, (in the year 660) it says that Japan was sending helping soliders to a nation called something like "Paekche", and failed completly in this aiding. When this happened, the clan that as responsible for the failure went down and dissapeared from the scene. Instead begun the struggle between two other clans (Mononobe and Soga) wich ended with Soga clan taking the power, and later on even the power to rule japan, with a powerless emperor. Then Naka no Oe, another "prince" from the emperor family seized the power from them (the Soga). Here is the weird thing: my book says that after the prince took the power, he moved the capital. This was in 645, wich obviously is 15 years before the event that triggered the princeツエs coup.)
Is that a simple missprint, or what? And if it is, then what preceeded the Soga clan coming to power? What happened at that time?

I don't know exactly what if anything much happened in 660, but 645 is the correct date of the coup and the end of the Asuka period.

2. This book says that in the end of the Nara period(or perhaps the begining of the Heian), Fujiara no Fuhita married his daughter to the emperor, making her empress. My first question on this is:
Which emperor? The "prince" from the previous question, the one who Fujiwara no Kamatiri helped to power?
Then, the book proceeds, when all sons of Fuhito had died, the power of the family was moved to Tachibana no Moroe, a stepbrother of the empress. As i get it, they canツエt possibly mean the power of the Fujwiara family - or, can they? Can they then be talking about the emperor family? But then, that would have to mean that those sons COULD have been emperors. Is(was) it that easy to be married into the family? Iツエm really confused on this one. Please, try to straighten things out.
According to my admitedly scanty sources, Fubito's power extended through the reign of six or seven (my count) sovereigns -- Tenchi -- Temmu -- Jitou (Temmu's widow) -- Mommu (her grandson) -- Gemmyou (Mommu's mother) -- Genshou (her daughter) -- Shoumo (Mommu's son). Given no rules of succession each apparently abdicating in favor of a preferred heir, at least one generation removed. As far as the reason one intermarriage wasn't enough to force a new dynasty, perhaps the power struggles which resulted from emperors taking multiple wives, having numerous children meant there was no end to imperial intrigue, 'pretenders' to the throne, etc. It isn't clear to me either how closely Fubito or his direct decendants were related to each of these, although he was father in law to two and grandfather of another.

So someone else may need to take the reigns from here.....🙂
 

NANGI

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Konnichiwa Deimos-san!

I answer your question in brief.

my book says that after the prince took the power, he moved the capital. This was in 645, wich obviously is 15 years before the event that triggered the princeツエs coup.
The confrontation between Soga clan and Mononobe clan is in 538.
And Soga clan get the power in 587.
But Soga clan is ruined by "Nakatomi no Kamatari" and "Naka no Oe" in 645, and Naka no Oe move the capital from Asuka to Naniwa in this year. But he return Asuka soon.
In 660, Naka no Oe send troops to Korea but failed.
In 667, Naka no Oe become emperor and he move the capital from Asuka to Otsu.

As i get it, they canツエt possibly mean the power of the Fujwiara family - or, can they? Can they then be talking about the emperor family? But then, that would have to mean that those sons COULD have been emperors. Is(was) it that easy to be married into the family? Iツエm really confused on this one. Please, try to straighten things out.
Fujiwara no Fuhito is the son of Nakatomi no Kamatari. And Fuhito's daughter get married to emperor Monmu. She bear a son and her son become emperor Shoumu.
The age of emperor Shoumu, Fuhito had died before but his sons get the power.
After Shoumu's death, the age of empress Koumyou who is the wife of Shoumu and is the clan of Fujiwara.
But the age of empress Koumyou, Fujiwara's rival appear. His name is Tachibana no Moroe and he is a stepbrother of the empress.
All Fuhito's sons died of illness and Tachibana get the power.
But Fujiwara family was not ruined, Fuhito's grandchildren come back the power and Fujiwara family maintain the power from now on.

But if a fujiwara was the mother of an emperor, would that not mean that the next emperor was also, in a way, fuijiwara? Would that not be enough to influence? Why keep this "game" of marrying every emperor to a fujiwara? Does it have something to do with the womanツエs status in Heian japan?(which I thought was rather high compared to, for example, europe at the same time)
In ancient times, marriage system and structure of family power is different from now. In this age, a young man marry young woman who has powerful father. Young man expect assistance from the wife's father, and wife's father expect a influence on his adopted son. A lot of people get the power by adoptee.
Fujiwara clan is the most powerful family and they can get more power by their adopted son, of course it is a emperor.

My question is; What were the relation between the owners of these goods, who broke the laws of the central goverment, and the central goverment? Pure, armed enmity? Or were things on a more formal plane?
In old times, a struggle for power means a plot in the Court. But after, a man of power has military strength and a struggle for power means a war. The leading part of war is soldier, and there were two big troops, Heishi and Genji. Originally, Heishi and Genji were mercenary troops of Fujiwara. They administer the Fujiwara's manor and they usurp the manor. They became independent power. Fujiwara clan lost military strength and power in the Court. Heishi and Genji get power and they confront each other. And Genji won in the end.

Sorry, my answer is not enough.:p

NANGI
 

senseiman

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The Fujiwara got their daughters to marry a lot of emporers and this gave them a lot of leverage over the imperial family, but it wasn't complete. There were more than one branch of the imperial family, and sometimes the next in line of succesion would be a brother or other relative of the reigning emporer rather than his son, so not all emporers were directly related to the Fujiwara by blood.

The relationship was also formalized by a system of Fujiwara regents. A lot of the emporers in the Heian era were enthroned while still children, necessatating a regent to administer the country in the emporer's name until he reached maturity. These regents were usually the head of the Fujiwara clan, and they were the de facto head of state, even after the ruling emporer came of age. In the 11th century this system broke down and a system of rule by cloistered emporers independent of the Fujiwara regents was established.
 

Musashi

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Heike = Taira clan
Genji = Minamoto clan

Concerning the power balance between the center and the local areas, one should realize Japan never really had a strong central power up until the Tokugawa bakufu and maybe even later. I know this might sound like a rather bold statement, but one must be aware of the fact that politics means conflict. In the Heian period, as others have already mentioned, this conflict was fought among the several clans of which the Fujiwara were faremost the strongest although even the Fujiwara were internally divided. To express this strength and maintain it, one basically needs two things: physical power and influence/authority. What the Fujiwara were mainly involved in was the authority issue; by binding themselves with the political-religious authority of the emperor's seat, their power was assured. For physical power however they relied on other LOCAL clans such as the local Taira and Minamoto. Eventually by the end of the Heian period, physical power seemed to be of more importance. Japan wasn't a centralized state at all, it was a vast land on which numerous clans fought out their conflicts. Japan's history is a continuous battleground between central authority versus local power, and that's what makes it so interesting.

At least, that's how I see it. ;)
 
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