Jisho Sannen no Seihen (Coup of the Third Year of Jisho) (治承三年の政変)

The Jisho Sannen no Seihen was an incident where TAIRA no Kiyomori led an army to conquer Kyoto and stalled the government by Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa in December (November in old lunar calendar) 1179. It is also referred as the coup d'état of Jisho Sannen (Third Year of Jiho Era) (1179).


The Previous Night

The relation between Emperor Goshirakawa and TAIRA no Kiyomori came into crisis due to the Shikagatani Incident in 1177, but Kiyomori limited the scale of the incident to the execution of FUJIWARA no Narichika and Saiko, who were the heads conspirators, and the exile of participants, and did not put the blame on the emperor at this time. The cloistered emperor tried to reconcile with Kiyomori on the surface, and the opposition between both parties seemed to soften.

Empress TAIRA no Tokuko gave birth to the imperial prince of Emperor Takakura in December 1178 (November 1178 in old lunar calendar). Kiyomori demanded to make the imperial prince as the crown prince to the cloistered emperor, and Shinno senji (a letter of the order of the emperor which demanded the inauguration of crown prince) was carried out to name the imperial prince as Emperor Antoku (Tokihito) on January 14 (December 9 in old lunar calendar), and he was formally installed as the Crown Prince on January 20 (December 15 in old lunar calendar). The position of guardian and togu-no-fu (an official in charge of education of the Crown Prince) was assigned to FUJIWARA no Tsunemune, Sadaijin (Minister of the Left), and as the staff of Togubo (Crown Prince's Quarters) was assigned to TAIRA no Munamori, Togu no Daibu (a chief officer of Togubo), Kanemasa KASANNOIN, Gonno Taifu (vice chief officer), TAIRA no Shigehira, suke (an assistant secretary of an office), TAIRA no Koremori, gon no suke (provisional assistant master), who were the Taira family and the court nobles close to the Taira clan. The close servants of cloistered emperor were removed from around the crown prince, and the cloistered emperor began to hold a disapproval and was wary of Taira Clan.

Main factor

TAIRA no Shigemori retired from the Naidaijin (Minister of the Interior) due to the worsening of his illness in April (March in old lunar calendar). Shigemori asked for the life of FUJIWARA no Narichika to be spared but was not heard, and he lost interest in politics consequently dissapearing from the center stage of politics. TAIRA no Moriko, who was the daughter of Kiyomori, passed away on July 30 (June 17 in old lunar calendar).
Moriko inherited most of the estate of Sekkan-ke (the families which produced regents) after the death of her husband, FUJIWARA no Motozane, and Kanezane KUJO mentioned in his diary, "Gyokuyo," 'Since she forcefully took away the estate of Fujiwara clan despite being someone of an opposite gender, there was a divine punishment from Kasuga Daimyojin (the Shinto deity).'
The estate of Sekkan-ke managed by Moriko was thought to be handed over to FUJIWARA no Motomichi (the son of Motozane) or Emperor Takakura whose junbo (a woman who was given the status equivalent to the emperor's birth mother) was Moriko, but the cloistered emperor assigned Shirakawa-dono Kuraazukari (the finance of the palace of Emperor Shirawaka) to FUJIWARA no Kanemori, who was his trusted vassal, and confiscated all of the estate in reality.

Shigemori passed away on September 9 (July 29 in old lunar calendar), but FUJIWARA no Sueyoshi, who was the trusted vassal of the cloistered emperor, became Governor of Echizen Province in Jimoku (ceremony for appointing officials) of November 16 (October 9 in old lunar calendar), and chigyo-koku (provincial fiefdom) of Shigemori after 1166 was confiscated. In addition, Moroie MATSUDONO, who was the eight year old son of Motofusa MATSUDONO, Kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor), became Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state) in place of twenty years old Motomichi. Motofusa, whose Sekkan-ke estate was taken away in addition to being involved in the Denkanoriai Incident, became the foremost leader in the anti-Taira clan force. This staff reassignment was intended to destroy the reputation of Kiyomori, who made his own daughter, TAIRA no Hiroko, marry Motomichi and supported him. The anti-Taira clan forces gained enough power in the Enryaku-ji Temple, which was close to the Taira clan, to cause civil war, causing events to become unpredictable.

The Outbreak

The day of Toyoakari-no-sechie (official imperial seasonal party) on December 21 (November 14 in old lunar calendar), 1179. Kiyomori lead an army of several thousand cavalry and entered Kyoto from Fukuhara and into Hachijo-dono (Hachijo Palace). Kyoto was filled with military soldiers, and people rioted over the uncertain future. Motofusa and Moroie were dismissed from their posts on 22nd (15th in old lunar calendar), and Moromichi was appointed to be the Kanpaku, Naidaijin, and Uji no choja (the head of the clan). The cloistered emperor was surprised by the firm attitude of Kiyomori, and used the Joken (the son of Shinzei) as the messenger, and said that he would not interfere with political duties hence forwards, and it was interpreted that the dismissal of Kanpaku father and son from their posts made the cloistered emperor and Kiyomori reconcile temporarily. However, Kakukai, who was the head priest of the Tendai sect of Buddhism was dismissed from his post on 23rd (16th in old lunar calendar) and Myoun of the pro-Taira clan party was reassigned, and FUJIWARA no Moronaga, Daijo-daijin (Grand minister of state), MINAMOTO no Suketaka, Dainagon (chief councilor of state), FUJIWARA no Mitsuyoshi, Sangi (councillor), FUJIWARA no Chikanobu, Dazai no daini (Senior Assistant Governor-General of the Dazai-fu offices), FUJIWARA no Sueyoshi, Governor of Echizen Province, TAKASHINA no Yasutsune, Okurakyo (Minister of the Treasury), FUJIWARA no Norisue, Governor of Mutsu Province were dismissed from their court official posts on 24th (17th in old lunar calendar). Furthermore, TAIRA no Yorimori and TAIRA no Chikamune of TAIRA clan, and also their relative, KASANNOIN Kanemasa were dismissed from their court posts of Uemon no Kami (the chief of a government office called "uemonfu"), Uchuben (dupty minister of department overseeing some major ministries), and Togu no Daibu. Up to thirty-nine people were dismissed from their office on this day (eight Kugyo (court nobles), Tenjobito (a courtier allowed to enter the Imperial Palace), Zuryo (the head of the provincial governors), thirty-one Kebiishi (police and judicial chief)). There was a wide shift in the zuryo of each province, and chigyokoku of Taira clan increased to thirty-two from seventeen provinces prior to the coup d'état; 'Japan Akitsu-shima (literally, "Land of Dragonflies") has only sixty-six provinces, and Heike (Taira family) chigyokoku became thirty-something provinces, already half the size of a country' ("The Tale of the Heike").

Motofusa was demoted to Dazai gon no sochi (Provisional Governor-General of the Dazai-fu offices) as exiled on 25th (18th in old lunar calendar), and it was decided that Moronaga and Sukekata would be exiled as well. These measures were revealed in Jimoku and since the shosho or senmei (an imperial edict) which were the official commands of the emperor, were distributed, Emperor Takakura was already under control of Kiyomori. The cloistered emperor was transferred to Toba Dono (Toba Detached Palace) under the command of Kiyomori on 27th (20th in old lunar calendar) (8 am). The Toba Dono was heavily guarded by samurai such that only the sons of FUJIWARA no Shinzei (FUJIWARA no Shigenori, FUJIWARA no Naganori, and Joken) and their wives were allowed to go in and out, and it was these conditions that were put to a stop by the government of Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa. Kiyomori left the latter responsibility to Munamori and left for Fukuhara-kyo. The dismissal of close vassals of the cloistered emperor, the arrest and confiscation of estates started, and close vassals of cloistered emperor, Yasunari OE, who had the title of Kebiishi, lit his own palace on fire and committed suicide, FUJIWARA no Kanemori, who was the Shirakawa-dono kuraazukari, had his wrists cut off, and Tameyuki, who was the former governor of Bingo Province, and Tameyasu, who was the former governor of Kazusa Province, were assassinated and pushed into the ocean. The third crown prince of the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa, Prince Mochihito, also faced his estate being confiscated, and this became a direct cause for the Prince Mochihito to mobilize the army.

However, Kiyomori was also not planning the military dictatorship from the beginning, and he accepted the positions of the upper class kugyo such as FUJIWARA no Tsunemune, who had the title of Sadaijin, Kanezane, who had the title of Udaijin (Minister of the Right), and Sanesada TOKUDAIJI, who had the title of Sadaisho (Major Captain the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) and sought cooperation. Emperor Takakura passed his position over to Imperial Prince Tokihito (Emperor Antoku) in March (February in old lunar calendar) 1180, and the government by the Cloistered Emperor Takakura started as a puppet of the Taira clan.


The act of grabbing hold of power by confining the cloistered emperor led to the birth of many opposition forces. Kofukuji-Temple, which opposed to the exile of Motofusa, Kanpaku, and Onjo-ji Temple which had a close relationship with the cloistered emperor were representatives. There was a clash between the Kokushi (provincial governors) and samurai within provinces within newly born chigyokoku of Taira clan. Tsunehiro KAZUSA and Yoshiaki MIURA of the powerful government officers of the alternated Kazusa and Sagami Provinces, were pressurized by Mokudai (deputy kokushi, or a deputy provincial governor) of Taira clan, and this became a trigger for them to greatly contribute to the mobilization of the army of MINAMOTO no Yoritomo. The conflict which dissapeared from the central area worsened in local districts.

The list of people who were dismissed from their positions (November 17)

According to the entry written on December 24 (November 17 in old lunar calendar), 1179 in "Sankaiki" (Tadachika NAKAYAMA's diary), the following thirty-nine people were dismissed from their positions in the emergency Jimoku (ceremony for appointing officials).

FUJIWARA no Moronaga, who possessed the title of Daijo-daijin. MINAMOTO no Suketaka, who possessed the title of Gon Dainagon (provisional chief councilor of state) and Azechi (local inspector). Kanemasa KASANNOIN, who possessed the title of Togu no Daibu. TAIRA no Yorimori, who possessed the title of Uemon no Kami. FUJIWARA no Sanetsuna, who possessed the title of Gonchunagon. FUJIWARA no Takatada, who possessed the title of Ukone gon no chujo (Provisional Middle Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards). FUJIWARA no Sadayoshi, who possessed the title of Sakone gon no chujo (Provisional Middle Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards). FUJIWARA no Mitsuyoshi, who possessed the title of Sangi, Uhyoenojo (Captain of the Right Watch), Kotaigogu gon no daibu (Provisional Master of the Empress Dowager's Household). FUJIWARA no Chikanobu, who possessed the title of dazai daini. FUJIWARA no Sueyoshi, who possessed the title of Echizen no kami (the governor of Echizen Province). TAKASHINA no Yasutsune, who possessed the titles of Okurakyo, Ukyo no daibu (chief of Ukyoshiki government agency), and Iyo no kami (governor of Iyo Province). MINAMOTO no Masakata, who possessed the title of Ukone no Gon no shosho (Provisional Minor Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards). TAIRA no Chikamune, who possessed the title of Uchuben. FUJIWARA no Mitsunori, who possessed the title of Bicchu no kami (the governor of Bicchu Province). TAIRA no Tokiie, who possessed the title of Ukone no Gon no shosho and Hoki no Kami (the governor of Hoki Province. FUJIWARA no Akiie, who possessed the titles of Ukone no Gon no shosho and Mikawa no kami (the governor of Mikawa Province. MINAMOTO no Suketoki, who possessed the title of Ukone no Gon no shosho. FUJIWARA no Norisue, who had titles of Mutsu no kami (the governor of Mutsu Province) and Shikibu gonnoshosho (Junior Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Ceremonial). TAIRA no Nobukane, who possessed the title of Daizen-Taifu (an official post of the government office called "daizenshiki"). TAIRA no Motochika, who possessed the titles of Kurodo (Chamberlain), Ushoben (Lesser Controller of the Right), Chugu taijo (Senior Secretary in the Office of the Consort's Household). TAKASHINA no Tsunenaka, who possessed the titles of Uemon no suke (provisional captain of the Right Division of Outer Palace Guards), togu-gonnodaishin (official post of the affairs related to the imperial prince), and Hitachi no suke (the assistant governor of Hitachi Province). FUJIWARA no Sadasuke, who possessed the title of Uma no kami (the officer in the department that took care of horses of the emperor). TAIRA no Narifusa, who had titles of Saemon no suke (Provisional Captain of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards) and Sagami no kami (the governor of Sagami Province). FUJIWARA no Sadatsune, who possessed the title of Mino no kami (the governor of Mino Province). FUJIWARA no Tameyasu, who possessed the title of Kazusa no suke (the assistant governor of Kazusa Province). TAIRA no Chikakuni, who possessed the title of Kaga no kami (the governor of Kaga Province). FUJIWARA no Akitsune, who possessed the title of Dewa no kami (the governor of Dewa Province). TAIRA no Naritada, who possessed the title of Sama no gon no kami (Provisional Captain of Samaryo, Left Division of Bureau of Horses). FUJIWARA no Takasada, who possessed the title of Awa no kami (the governor of Awa Province). Minamoto no Koen, who possessed the title of Kawachi no kami (the governor of Kawachi Province). FUJIWARA no Tomomitsu, who possessed the title of Awaji no kami (the governor of Awaji Province). FUJWIARA no Yoshimori, who possessed the title of Suo no kami (the governor of Suo Province). MINAMOTO no Nobukata, who possessed the title of Tajima no kami (the governor of Tajima Province). FUJIWARA no Tameaki, who possessed the title of Kai no kami (the governor of Kai Province). NAKAHARA no Muneie, who possessed the title of okura taifu (an official post of the Ministry of Finance in the Ritsuryo System). NAKHARA no Naoie, who possessed the title of Sado no kami (the governor of Sado Province). OE no Tonari, TAIRA no Sukeyuki, FUJIWARA no Nobumori, who possessed the title of Keibiishi Saemon no shoi (Police and judicial chief and Minor Captain of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards).

[Original Japanese]