Another History Lesson


History has always been my favorite subject. In my current writing, I reference a lot of factual Japanese events. One major thing referenced in my story is the Bakufu. I shall discuss it here, partly to attain more info (and make note of it) on it, and partly to share what knowledge I have with my readers.

The Bakufu was the organization of the warrior class, the Samurai, as the ruling class of Japan. Bakufu literally was the dwelling of a Samurai, a tent in the field of battle. Thus, the Bakufu was a tent-government, or military government, between the years of 1185 and 1868. The leader of the bakufu was the Sei-i-Teishogun, or simply, Shogun. Sei-i-Teishogun translates to Great General who subdues the eastern barbarians. At the time of the first Shogun, these eastern barbarians however did not refer to Europeans, since at the time, there had been no interaction with them. The title dates back to 794, which referred to a leader who fought against the Ainu in Northern Japan. The first official Shogunate, however, was in 1185, and was established by Minamoto no Yoritomo, and was referred to as the Kamakura Shogunate. Even from this early stage, the true purpose of the Shogunate was twisted about. It’s original intent was to militarize all of those that were able to fight for Japan, and the leaders of the Shogunate (Shogun and land-lords, otherwise known as Daimyo in later years) were to function as military advisers to the Emperor, while still following the Emperor’s command. However, the Shogunate, even at this time,  used their skills to influence the Emperor’s decisions.

The Kamakura Shogun, named as such due to it’s location of establishment, lasted from 1185 to 1333. The Mongol Khan, Kublai Khan, conquered China, named himself Emperor, and invaded Japan twice. In the spring of 1281, the famous Kamikaze (“Godly Wind”) typhoon turned back the Mongol’s second naval invasion of 23,000 troops. However, due to the lack of spoils to reward the Samurai, and the destruction that befell Japan in the first invasion, many cried out that the Shogunate government needed reform. In 1318 Go-Daigo rose as the new Emperor, and in 1331 he attempt to overthrow the Kamakura Shogunate. He was exiled, but two years later, with defectors of the Kamakura Shogunate (Ashikaga Takauji and Nitta Yoshisada), the Shogunate was destroyed, and Go-Daigo returned to his seat of power. For three years after, Go-Daigo attempted to re-solidify Imperial control in Japan.

In 1336, Ashikaga Takauji marched on Kyoto, and overthrew Go-Daigo’s new Imperial government and put his son, Prince Moriyoshi, under house arrest.

The Muromachi Shogunate was established by Ashikaga Takauji, and lasted from 1338 till 1573. Early on, the weakness of the new Shogunate would cause it to be plagued by civil war. In 1368, third Muromachi Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu gave more power to land-lords, and a balance of power was put into place between the Shogun and his Daimyo. Despite his attempts to unify the courts in Japan, the northern court remained in power of the throne. Gradually, over time, the descendants of Yoshimitsu grew weaker and weaker. Daimyo affirmed their power to a greater extent, and by 1467 the Shogunate lost power over setting up the order of Imperial Succession, and even in the succession of the Shogunate itself. The Onin War was the result, which lasted from 1467-1477. Kyoto was left devastated, and Japan would be left in chaos for over a century. In 1568, till 1598, a series of men held temporary control in Japan, but were never given the title of sei-i-teishogun by the Emperor.

The begining of Sengoku is said to have been at the very end of the Onin War. Thus, from 1477, to the end of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s Sekigahara Campaign in 1600, is the Sengoku Period. At this time, Daimyo from all across Japan vied against rival Daimyo and clans. This time of chaos in Japan resulted in the area of Japan being pretty much divided into city states. Though the Emperor maintained political control in Kyoto at this time, the warring Daimyo basically turned their backs on the Emperor’s decree. All of the soldiers that had once worked for the Shogun, and followed the issues of the Emperor, were now divided in their loyalties between the Daimyo, and so there was no military threat the Emperor could pose against these fighting Daimyo. Between 1551 and 1559, Oda Nobunaga fought for control, within his own clan, of Owari Province. From there, he went on to unify Japan. He made alliances with two others that would continue his efforts after Akechi Mitsuhide rebelled, and had Nobunaga killed in 1582. By 1600, Tokugawa finished the efforts to unify Japan, and instituted his new Shogunate in Edo. This Shogunate would last until 1868. Even after 1868, there would be those seeking to re-institute a Shogunate, but by then the influence of modern, eastern powers, and the technology they brought over, pushed Japan into the modern world, and Samurai would quickly become a thing of the past. By 1912, the Meiji Government that overthrew the Tokugawa Shogunate would crumble, and the new government continues to this day.

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If this topic interests you, comment below. I have noticed a few rises in views over the weekend, for a couple specific posts, and wish to see what it is specifically that people are coming to my blog to see. Let me know, and I’ll keep discussing it.

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