Bukeryo (Lands of military families) (武家領)

Bukeryo was shoryo (individual holdings) of military families during the medieval Japan.


The bukeryo included from individual holdings owned by samurai (warriors) retainers to individual holdings owned by the Ise Heishi (a branch of the Taira clan) and the Kawachi Genji (a branch of the Minamoto family), each a chief of the warrior houses, based on their military authority. Local samurai warriors including the Ise Heishi clan and the Kawachi Genji, both originating from middle and lower ranked officials, were qualified as shoen ryoshu (proprietary lord of manor) in their local power base. Among others, the Ise Heishi formed its economic foundation by receiving chigyokoku and shoen throughout Japan in the process of establishing the Taira administration, which culminated in ruling of thirty or more chigyokoku and 500 or more shoen. The Kawachi Genji received nine provinces (Shimousa Province, Kazusa Province, Musashi Province, Sagami Province, Izu Province, Echigo Province, Shinano Province, Suruga Province, Bungo Province) among those that had been the Ise Heishi's chigyokoku, and 500 or more shoen, that had been mokkan ryo (confiscated lands) -- All of them were received as rewards in the Jisho no ran (Jisho civil war, 1180) in the process of establishing the Kamakura bakufu (military government of Kamakura). The former provinces were called Kanto gobunkoku (Kamakura bakufu's provincial jurisdiction) and the latter shoen were called Kanto goryo (Kamakura bakufu's private estates), both of which were also collectively called Heike mokkan ryo (lands confiscated from the Heike). Here, Kamakura dono (Lord of Kamakura), who was the head of the head family of the Kawachi Genji, had attained the position of one of the greatest shoen ryoshu of Japan in those days. To those shoryo, gokenin (personal retainers of the shogun) were appointed as shugo (protectors, or military governors) or jito (stewards), and a strong system of government was constructed based on their military forces. Even after the whole family line of the Kawachi Genji was destroyed, the position was taken over by the successive seii taishogun (barbarian-subduing generalissimo), which expanded its power by taking over the shoryo and various shiki (the right to use land and to share in the products of the land) which were confiscated in disturbances such as the Jokyu no ran (Jokyu disturbance; 1221) and in times of crisis and rebellion of gokenin. The shoryo of the other bushi (samurai) also mainly originated in the various shiki of their own shoen and koryo (public lands). Many of the gokenin applied military and police powers, which they had obtained after becoming shugo or jito of the Kamakura bakufu, on their own shoryo to remove various kinds of shiki associated with their own shoryo. The rule of the gokenin remained subject to the shoen koryosei system; therefore, although samurai's monopolistic control of the shoryo was liable to appear earlier in the local shoryo of the gokenin than the shoryo of the Kamakura bakufu, which stated the policy of having gokenin in harmony with the other powerful houses, influences of the court nobles, temples, and shrines, which occupied higher various shiki, and the local kokuga cannot be completely removed during this period.

On the other hand, the Ashikaga clan, which raised from a mere gokenin to found the Muromachi bakufu, gained the shoryo by depriving the enemies of the shoryo during the Nanbokucho civil war, but lost their shoryo when their shoryo was taken as rewards to the others or was deprived by the enemies -- Consequently, its goryosho (shogunal domain) was far less than that of the Kamakura bakufu. Under the influences of the long-lasting civil war and hanzeirei (half-tax decrees), Jisha honjoryo (lands of temples and nobles) and koryo were severely declined, and the shiki associated with the lands became in name only. As a result, each of the bushi throughout Japan including shugo daimyo (great feudal lord) established an integral rule over his own shoryo, which influenced the goryosho of the Muromachi bakufu. Here, 'bukeryo' had been established both in name and in reality. This trend spread throughout Japan as the daimyo ryogokusei system (daimyo control over provinces) was introduced, and observed through bakuhan taisei (power structure of bakufu and daimyo domains) until hanseki hokan (surrender of the domain registers to the emperor) and chitsuroku shobun (abolish hereditary stipend) were carried out.

[Original Japanese]