Emperor Gosanjo (後三条天皇)

Emperor Gosanjo (September 3, 1034 - June 15, 1073) was the seventy-first Emperor. His posthumous name was Takahito. He was 40 years old. His reign lasted from May 22, 1068 to January 18, 1073.


He was the second prince of Emperor Gosuzaku. His mother was Emperor Sanjo's third princess, Teishi (Yomei mon in). He was the younger half-brother of Emperor Reizei. He was the first Emperor since Uda, 170 years earlier, who had no maternal relationship to the FUJIWARA clan (but Princess Teishi was the maternal grandchild of FUJIWARA no Michinaga).

The Period of the Crown Prince

Because the Emperor's birth mother was not from the FUJIWARA clan, he was treated coldly by the chancellor (chief advisor to the Emperor), FUJIWARA no Yorimichi and his brother, FUJIWARA no Norimichi; however, it is said their younger half-brother, FUJIWARA no Yorinobu, supported Emperor Gosanjo. According to "Ima Kagami (The Mirror of the Present)," Emperor Gosuzaku considered Prince Takahito of his older brother, Prince Chikahito's (Emperor Goreizei) successor, as Crowin Princes' younger brother, although Yorimichi was against it, at Yoshinobu's insistence Prince Takahito became the crown prince. However Yorimichi and Norimichi kept on putting pressure on Prince Takahito directly or indirectly, to send their daughters to Emperor Gosuzaku's Palace and take control of political power as maternal grandfather.
According to "Go Dan Sho," written by Oe no Masafusa, there is an example of the above: Yorimichi did not give away Tsubo kiri no ken (a traditional sword handed down from emperor to crown prince) which passed through successive princes for 23 years until the enthronement of the prince, the reason being that 'the Tsubo kiri no ken was meant for the FUJIWARA clan's (specially the Sekkan-ke (families of the Fujiwara clan whose members were eligible to become regent) treasure.'
However, Emperor Goreizei had no children, so after he died, Prince Takahito was enthroned.

After the enthronement

After Yorimichi abdicated with great disappointment, his brother Norimichi became chancellor (chief advisor to the Emperor) with the help of FUJIWARA no Shoshi; moreover, Fujiwara no Yoshinobu's adopted son FUJIWARA no Yoshinaga and MINAMOTO no Morofusa, of the Murakami Minamoto clan, were given the positions needed to defeat the dominant politics of the Sekkan-ke, and appointed the lower government officials such as OE no Masafusa and FUJIWARA no Sanemasa, because FUJIWARA no Yoshinobu had supported the Emperor when he was the crown prince and was an active leader in opposition to the Sekkan-ke. People such as MINAMOTO no Takakuni, who treated the Emperor with contempt while he was the crown prince because he felt intimidated by Yorimichi, obtained fair treatment by recruiting Takakuni's son, MINAMOTO no Toshiakira, in order to ensure that there was no possibility of a reprisal.

Good Government During the Enkyu Period

In 1069, the Decree Restricting the Expansion of Private Estates was issued and a contract office to record estates was established, followed by the issuance of the silk fabric regulation in 1070 and the setting of the Enkyu measuring cup by the Emperor's order; the official measuring cup and the price regulation were established in 1072, and the Emperor tried to build a strong financial base for the Imperial Court, which had been destabilized due to the system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo codes and had become a mere facade. The Enkyu Decree Restricting the Expansion of Private Estates was much more detailed and much fairer than any previous such decrees; as a result, it was particularly harmful to the weakened finances of the Sekkan-ke (families of the Fujiwara clan whose members were eligible to become regent) as the private estates of the Sekkan-ke were confiscated, for example (details of these events were recorded in the "Gonijo Moromichiki," which was the diary of FUJIWARA no Moromichi, who later became Chancellor). Given this fact, it provided security for the feudal lords of the private estate and the farmers, and consequently in "Koji Dan" (the collection of stories from the Kamakura period) it is described as a good government during the Enkyu period. On the other hand, the Sekkan-ke did not come up with a constructive plan to counter the Emperor, mainly since there was an adversarial relationship between Yorimichi and Norimichi.

Additionally, the battle against Ezo (the name used at that time to refer to the lands located to the north of Japan), which occurred during the same period, brought the whole of Honshu (the main island), including the Tsugaru and Shimokita peninsulas, under the control of the Imperial Court, and this had a significant impact on local areas throughout the island.

In 1072, after four years of his enthronement, the Emperor intended to pass the throne to his first Prince, Emperor Shirakawa and start the cloister government, however he became ill on the following year and died when he was forty years old. Based on recent studies, there is a strong theory that the Emperor abdicated the throne due to his illness, not due to his intention to rule the cloister government.

Eras During His Reign

Jiryaku (April 19, 1068) - April 13, 1069

Enkyu April 13, 1069 - (December 8, 1072)

The Imperial Mausoleum

It is located at Shuyama, Ryoan-ji, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City. The Emperor was entombed in Enso-ji no misasagi.

[Original Japanese]