01 Japanese History

#14 The Jokyu War

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This episode is about the Jokyu War. After the death of Minamoto no Yoritomo, the Kamakura Shogunate was plunged into crisis.


After Yoritomo’s death, his children were appointed as the second and third shoguns. However, both were assassinated amid political turmoil, and Yoritomo’s bloodline was cut off.


In Kyoto, Joko Go-Toba sought to reassert the power of the Imperial Court. When the Minamoto shoguns ceased to exist, Joko Go-Toba sent an army to Kamakura to overthrow the Shogunate. The warriors of the Kamakura Shogunate were unsettled.


At this time, the real power of the shogunate was in the hands of Yoritomo’s wife, Hojo Masako, and the Hojo clan, which assisted the shogun. Hojo Masako made a famous speech to the warriors of the Shogunate to inspire them.


“Listen to me, all of you, with one mind,” said Masako. ” This is the last word. Yoritomo’s establishment of the Shogunate elevated the status of the samurai and guaranteed them land. His favor is higher than the mountains and deeper than the sea. Those who cherish honor should fight and protect the Shogunate. Those who side with the Imperial Court, offer yourselves now.”


The Shogunate army led by the Hojo clan defeated the forces of Joko Go-Toba. This event is called the Jokyu War. The Hojo clan drove Joko Go-Toba and his forces out of the capital. As a result, the Shogunate’s rule extended to western Japan and the Imperial Court’s power weakened.


Thus, a structure of dual domination was developed. The Imperial Court with the emperor held the authority to appoint the shoguns but had little political power. Shogun, on the other hand, had political power but needed the authority of the emperor to rule the whole country. This structure of domination would continue until the 19th century.


The Kamakura shogunate brought in high-ranking imperial family members and aristocrats from Kyoto as shoguns, but the actual political affairs were handled by the Hojo clan, who assisted the shoguns. The rule of the Hojo clan continued until the 14th century.


By the way, the wife of Minamoto no Yoritomo, who appeared in this episode, was named Hojo Masako. This indicates that Japan was not a country of married couples with the same surname. We also learned that one person’s words can make a big difference in history, didn’t we?


Thank you for reading!

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