Kamakura shogunate

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The Kamakura shogunate (Japanese: 鎌倉幕府, Kamakura bakufu) 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, Minamoto no Yoritomo seized power in 1185 and became 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, Hōjō Tokimasa, the chief of his widow Hōjō Masako's clan and former guardian of Yoritomo, claimed the title of regent to Yoritomo's son Minamoto no Yoriie, eventually making that claim hereditary to the Hōjō clan. The Minamoto remained the titular shoguns for two more dynasties, with the Hōjō 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 Jōkyū War), but failed to wrest power away from the shogunate. This solidified the hold of the Hōjō family on the shogunate, even to the point of allowing them to pick and choose successors to the title of shogun, which, following the Jōkyū 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 Go-Daigo, 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 Hōjō 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 (1218-1256) (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


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