Engi no Chi (延喜の治)

Engi no chi is an idealized name of the reign of Emperor Daigo during the mid-Heian period (during the first half of the 10th century). Engi is the era name of the reign of Emperor Daigo.

As Emperor Daigo had no Sekkan (regents and advisers) and compiled "Engi no kyakushiki" (regulations and laws of the Engi era), his reign was considered by succeeding generations as the reign when an ideal politics were carried out by direct rule of the Emperor and his reign was called as Engi and Tenryaku no chi (reign of Emperor Daigo and Murakami) together with the reign of Emperor Murakami (Tenryaku no chi - glorious Tenryaku rule) who also carried out direct rule in the middle of the 10th century.

However, a person who actually played a leading role attending to government affairs in the Engi period was FUJIWARA no Tokihira, Sadaijin (Minister of the Left), Daijokan hitto (head council of state). Tokihira died young and could not take up the position of Sekkan as he had no maternal relatives to the Emperor, but he made his younger sister, FUJIWARA no Onshi a chugu (the second consort of an emperor) of Emperor Daigo. Daigo had many princes, but there was only one who became a crown prince and that was the child of Onshi and it turned out that the foundation of the later Sekkan government was in fact made during that time.

Tokihira followed the political policy of Emperor Uda, the former emperor of Emperor Daigo. The politics by Emperor Uda (called Kanpyo no chi - Glorious rule in Kanpyo era) strongly aspired to return to the Ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based upon the ritsuryo code) which controlled influential families (dominant nobilities, temples and shrines) and protected peasant folks, and Tokihira also followed this policy, for example, by promulgating a law to enforce handen (the allotted farmland) in 902 during his administration. In a similar way, the compiling of "Engi no kyakushiki"conducted during this period was also intended to return the Ritsuryo system. However, in reality, Engi no chi was not necessarily successful as the rank differentiation of the farmer class was significantly accelerated so, the rule over people based on the Ritsuryo system had reached the stage no longer being possible. As the result, Engi no chi was the last trial conducted to bring back the Ritsuryo system, and this ruling system was completely abandoned during the reign of the next emperor, Emperor Suzaku, and FUJIWARA no Tadahira and the establishment and reinforcement of a new system, i.e. the Imperial Court, state was starting to develop.

There is a theory by Koji HIRATA and others that Kanpyo no chi was a transition and preparatory period for the dynasty state system led by SUGAWARA no Michizane and Engi no chi was intended to transit to the national system ruled by imperial families by Tokihira who took over the idea of Michizane, but the details were unknown because the political records of Michizane were destroyed by Tokihira. According this theory, the enforcement of handen was intended to determine the land tax amount and it was a system reform focused on the coming taxation of land.

[Original Japanese]