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Kamakura shogunate

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The Kamakura shogunate (鎌倉幕府) was a feudal military dictatorship ruled by the shoguns from 1185 to 1333. Based in Kamakura, Japan, this period draws its name from the capital of the shogunate and is known as the Kamakura period.

Before the establishment of the Kamakura bakufu, civil power in Japan was primarily held by the ruling Emperors and their regents. Military affairs were handled under the auspices of the civil government. However, after defeating the Taira clan in the Genpei War (源平合戦), Minamoto no Yoritomo seized power in 1185 and became the dictator and the de facto ruler of the country. He asserted the primacy of the military side of the government and was given the title of shogun (征夷大将軍) in 1192 while the system of government he established became formalized as the bakufu. The Japanese provinces became semi-autonomous under the new protectors (shugo, 守護), the predecessors of the daimyo. Protectors were selected mostly from powerful families in the different provinces, or the title was bestowed upon a general and his family after a successful campaign. Although they managed their own affairs, in theory they were still obligated to the central government through their allegiance to the shogun.

After Yoritomo's death, his widow Hojo Masako essentially usurped the real ruling power from his Minamoto clan to her own Hojo clan. The Minamoto remained the titular shoguns for two more dynasties, with the Hojo holding the real power - thus ruling through a puppet shogun and a titular emperor. The Emperor attempted to reverse the situation in a 1221 rebellion (called the Shokyu War), but failed to wrest power away from the shogunate. This solidified the hold of the Hojo family on the shogunate, even to the point of allowing them to pick and choose successors to the title of shogun, which, following the [jokyu incident], was assigned first to members of the noble Kujo family, and later to members of the imperial household until the end of the Kamakura “bakufu”. A second attempt was made by the Imperial court in 1331 under the rule of the Emperor Godaigo, and was much more successful, particularly as Kamakura's most powerful general, Ashikaga Takauji, chose to side with the Emperor. The Kamakura bakufu came to an end in 1333 with the defeat and destruction of the Hojo clan. This triumph was, however, short-lived, as Ashikaga Takauji promptly assumed the position of shogun himself, establishing the Ashikaga shogunate.

  1. Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147-1199) (r. 1192-1199)
  2. Minamoto no Yoriie (1182-1204) (r. 1202-1203)
  3. Minamoto no Sanetomo (1192-1219) (r. 1203-1219)
  4. Kujo Yoritsune (1218-1286) (r. 1226-1244)
  5. Kujo Yoritsugu (1239-1256) (r. 1244-1252)
  6. Prince Munetaka (1242-1274) (r. 1252-1266)
  7. Prince Koreyasu (1264-1326) (r. 1266-1289)
  8. Prince Hisaaki (1276-1328) (r. 1289-1308)
  9. Prince Morikuni (1301-1333) (r. 1308-1333)

See also

Last updated: 05-07-2005 13:13:22
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04