The Rule of Shoguns in Japan (1192-1868) Part 1

Kamakurashogunate (1192-1333)

During the war, Minamoto no Yoritomo (Shogun since 1192) had started to set up its own administration (“tent government”, Japanese Bakufu) with Kamakura as its center. More and more warriors came to him. He incorporated them into a newly created vassal system. After the victory of 1185, he installed military governors in all the provinces, and his governors came to the shōen lands. This laid the foundation for a feudal state organization. In the north, in the province of Mutsu with the capital Hiraizumi, there were still possible opponents. Under the pretext of his now renegade half-brother Minamoto no Yoshitsune to search, he invaded and incorporated the area after his victory into his sphere of influence (1189/90): Now Minamoto no Yoritomo controlled all of Japan through his vassals and with his military administration. When he was appointed Shogun in 1192, the first Shogunate formally began. The emperor in Kyoto was largely disempowered and from then on led a political shadowy existence as a rule; his signature was only required to appoint the shoguns, which he had to dispose of. This kind of interdependence guaranteed the continued existence of the imperial court during the following nearly 700 years of warrior rule. Minamoto no Yoritomo died in 1199, his line became extinct with the death of his son in 1219. After Kamakura they brought shoguns from the Fujiwara family (1219 / 26-52) and from the imperial family (1252-1333).

According to historyaah, the power of the military government lay early with the military rulers (Shikken), whose position after Minamoto no Yoritomo’s former guard and later father-in-law Hōjō Tokimasa was hereditary in his family (until 1333). The court’s efforts to regain governance failed. The most spectacular was the failed attempt in 1221 (Jōkyū no ran). Then there were changes in the military administration; the supplementary legislation, corresponding to the special needs of the warrior society, was under Hōjō Yasutoki (Shikken 1224-42) codified. The exemplary conditions in the areas of the northeast attracted famous monks, and the teachings of the Zen Buddhist schools of Sōtō and Rinzai also spread there. At the time of Hōjō Yasutokisthe reputation of the Shōgunate rose, as did his great-grandson Hōjō Tokimune (Shikken 1268-84), who fended off the Mongol invasions. Kubilai Khan (Marco Polo, who by his own account temporarily lived at his court, reported for the first time in Europe about Japan) invaded Kyushu with strong associations in 1274 and 1281. He failed both times. Among the leaders of Kamakura, the mismanagement of Hōjō Takatokis (Shikken 1316-26) led to rifts. That made it easier for Kaiser Godaigo(96th Tennō 1318–39) to call for an uprising against the Hōjō. Disputes about the succession to the throne had led to a break within the imperial family: Kōgon had been installed as a counter-emperor (1st Northern Emperor 1331-33). Ashikaga Takauji (* 1305, † 1358) was sent with troops of the Hōjō against Godaigo, but changed the front and conquered Kyoto for Godaigo in June 1333: Kamakura fell in early July 1333. The Kamakurashōgunat collapsed, the leading Hōjō committed suicide (Seppuku).

Muromachishōgunate (1338-1573)

Emperor Godaigo sent Ashikaga Takauji to Kamakura in 1335 to secure his rule, but had to send other troops there against him, who remained there contrary to orders and thus indicated another change of front. Ashikaga Takauji was able to beat the imperial in July 1336 and now took the place of the Kōgon Emperor Kōmyō (2nd Northern Emperor 1336-48). Godaigo fled to Yoshino in 1337 and founded the “Southern Court” there. Thus the imperial family was split into a north and a south line, the “time of the courts of the north and the south” (Namboku-chō jidai) began. Because Godaigo carried the symbols of imperial power with him, his line was considered the right one. In 1338 Ashikaga Takauji was appointed Shogun. The district of Muromachi became the seat of Bakufu under Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (Shogun 1369-95). The south courtyard, for which a. the excellent propagandist and tactician Kitabatake Chikafusa (* 1293, † 1354) foc ht, forced the enemy to be constantly vigilant through numerous small operations, but lost followers over time. In 1392, his last emperor was forced to recognize the northern emperor Gokomatsu (6th northern emperor, 100th Tennō of the main line 1392-1412), thus ending the split and the war of succession. Ashikaga Yoshimitsu promoted arts and artists. Politically adept in dealing with the imperial court, the powerful vassals and the Buddhist clergy, he was able to balance his inner opponents. In addition, he successfully strived for good relations with China and Korea. Relations with the court and China deteriorated under his successors, and internal disputes divided the Ashikaga family.

Individual rulers, hardly hindered by the weak central administration, had acquired extensive estates; their fiscal position was often better than that of the shoguns, so that the state and financial administration of this shogunate is described as the worst in all of Japanese history. Under Ashikaga Yoshimasa (Shogun 1443 / 49-74), more of his passion for collecting and arts such as the notheater or the tea path than politics, the eleven-year Ōnin war (1467-77) broke out. Even after its end, feuds and campaigns continued; for about a century the country remained completely decentralized.

The Rule of Shoguns in Japan 1