Emperor Konin (光仁天皇)

Emperor Konin (November 22, 709 - January 15, 782) was the 49th Emperor who reigned from October 27, 770 to May 4, 781.

He was the sixth son of Prince Shiki, the seventh prince of Emperor Tenchi and he called himself as Shirakabe no okimi (Prince Shirakabe). His mother was KI no Tochihime. He received his Shojo (the first investiture) very late in his life, at the age of 29, probably because his father died when he was eight years old. Later he married the Imperial princess Inoe, the princess of Emperor Shomu, in 744, and suddenly he had a lot of chances to be promoted and in 762, he became Chunagon (vice-councilor of state) and he made a great achievement to put down the Rebellion of Fujiwara no Nakamaro and won the trust of Emperor Koken/Emperor Shotoku and was promoted to Dainagon (chief councilor of state) in 766. However, as many imperial princes and princes (members of Imperial family) were purged in a series of political changes, it is said that he pretended to be a mediocre person, spending most of the time drinking.

In 770, Empress Shotoku passed away. As the Empress was single and had no successor, and because there was no imperial family members who were descendants of Emperor Tenmu due to the repeated purges in political changes, FUJIWARA no Nagate, Minister of the Left, KIBI no Makibi, Minister of the Right, FUJIWARA no Sukunamaro, Sangi (councilor), FUJIWARA no Tadamaro, Sangi, ISONOKAMI no Yakatsugu, Sangi, FUJIWARA no Kurajimaro, Division of Inner Palace Guard, and others had talks, which led to his accession to the imperial throne at the age of 62. Imperial Prince Osabe and Imperial Princess Sakahito were born between Shirakabe no okimi and the Imperial princess Inoe and he was the last male member of the imperial family Emperor Tenmu, though Imperial Prince Osabe himself was the maternal side of the family, so it is believed that his father, Shirakabe no okimi, was recommended as the next heir to the Imperial Throne. His enthronement at the age of 65 is the oldest since Emperor Keitai (the 26th) including the present Emperor. (In fact, the emperor who took over the throne at the old age next to Emperor Konin is the present 125th Emperor.

After enthronement, he made the Imperial princess Inoe an empress and Imperial Prince Osabe Crown Prince but he charged the Imperial princess Inoe with high treason by cursing and removed the empress, and also removed Imperial Prince Osabe, the Crown Prince, from power in 772. Next year, the Imperial princess Inoe was confined for the charge of cursing Imperial Princess Naniwa, the older sister of the emperor, along with Imperial Prince Osabe who was also stripped of the rank of the Crown Prince and became a prince, and they both died unnatural deaths. As a result, the Imperial lineage of Emperor Tenmu was put an end completely. In 773, Imperial Prince Yamanobe, the son of TAKANO no Niigasa, became the Crown Prince. This Prince later became Emperor Kanmu. Behind this, it is suspected that the Imperial Prince Yamanobe and the Fujiwara family that supported him masterminded the conspiracy.

The emperor persevered in affairs of state even after he became 70 years old, but after Imperial Princess Noto, his first Princess, died in February 781, he deteriorated suddenly both physically and mentally and abdicated the throne to his crown prince for health reasons in May of the same year. He passed away on January 15, 782.

[Original Japanese]