Fujiwara no Tadahira (藤原忠平)

FUJIWARA no Tadahira (880 - September 14, 949) was a court noble of the Heian period. He was the fourth son of FUJIWARA no Mototsune. His mother was Princess Soshi. Among his brothers were FUJIWARA no Tokihira, FUJIWARA no Nakahira, etc. Among his children were FUJIWARA no Saneyori, FUJIWARA no Morosuke, etc. He was called the koichijo (chancellor).

He conducted the affairs of the Imperial Court after the early death of his brother Tokihira, and carried out a political reform called "Engi no chi (the Glorious Engi Rule)." During the reign of Emperor Suzaku, he was appointed as regent and later as chancellor. Subsequently, he held onto power for a long time, until the beginning of Emperor Murakami's reign. It is said that he was on good terms with SUGAWARA no Michizane, who had opposed his brother Tokihira. TAIRA no Masakado also served in his household for a while.


During the Kanpyo era (889 - 898) he was promoted to the junior fifth rank, lower grade and was appointed as jiju (chamberlain), simultaneously serving as zuryo (governor) of Higo. In 900 he was appointed as a sangi (consultant), but he petitioned the Emperor and had his uncle FUJIWARA no Kiyotsune appointed to the post instead, so that he could then himself be appointed as the major controller of the right. Early in the Engi era he was appointed simultaneously as the master of the Crown Prince's household and the director of the Left Palace Guards, serving as the kebiishi no betto (superintendant of the Imperial Police), and was later promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) and appointed to Chunagon (vice-councilor of state), serving as the superintendant of the Kurododokoro (Chamberlain's Office) while simultaneously being chief commander of the Capital Guard of the Right.

The reign of Emperor Uda was called kanpyo no chi (The Glorious Rule of Kanpyo), when the Emperor governed directly without appointing either Regent or Chancellor, and Tadahira's eldest brother Tokihira and the scholar SUGAWARA no Michizane played the leading parts at court. In 897, when Emperor Uda abdicated the throne and Emperor Daigo acceded, Tokihira (as the minister of the left) and Michizane (as the minister of the right) governed jointly, but soon afterward Michizane was brought down in a plot (the Shotai Incident).

Tokihira took power and began work on various reforms, but he died young in 909 at the age of 39. Tadahira succeeded to the direct line of descent as the head of the Fujiwara clan, pushing aside his other older brother, Nakahira. He continued to advance under the reign of Emperor Daigo, becoming Dainagon (chief councilor of state) while serving concurrently as the chief of the Capital Guard of the Left. In 914 he was appointed the minister of the right. In 924 he was promoted to the senior second rank and appointed to serve as the minister of the left. In 927, carrying on the great work of the deceased Tokihira, he completed "the Engi-kyaku-shiki," a collection of government regulations and procedures.
Tadahira's policies on agriculture and other areas, along with his brother Tokihira's administrative policies, are referred to collectively as 'Engi no chi.'

No one had been appointed as either a regent or a chancellor for a long time after Mototsune's death, but considering the Emperor's youth, Tadahira was appointed as a regent when Emperor Suzaku (the son of his sister, FUJIWARA no Onshi) succeeded to the throne in 930. In 932 he was promoted to junior first rank. In 936 he became the grand minister of state, and by 939 his status was equal to that of the three empresses. He resigned from the regency after Emperor Suzaku's coming-of-age in 941, but he was entrusted by imperial edict with the continuing management of court affairs and was appointed to serve as the chancellor. During this period TAIRA no Masakado, who had once served in his household, together with his distant relative FUJIWARA no Sumitomo, rose up in the rebellions of the Shohei and Tengyo eras, but in the end they were put down.

When Emperor Murakami succeeded to the throne in 946, he continued to govern as the chancellor. He was old by this time and was prone to illness; consequently, he often requested to be allowed to resign, but each time he was persuaded not to do so. In 949 his illness became more serious, and he passed away. He was 70 years old. He was posthumously raised to Shoichii (Senior First Rank) and was given the name Teishinko.

There is a theory that he was out of favor with the eldest brother Tokihira, because his wife, MINAMOTO no Junshi, was the daughter (or the adopted daughter by some theories) of Emperor Uda, and because he was on good terms with the Emperor's close advisor SUGAWARA no Michizane, both of whom were in conflict with Tokihira. (It is also possible that Junshi was Michizane's niece; see MINAMOTO no Junshi for the details.)

It is said that after the deaths of his brother Tokihira and MINAMOTO no Hikaru (a court noble), who together had undermined Michizane, when Emperor Daigo became prone to illness and his father, the Cloistered Emperor Uda, returned to government, Tadahira achieved rapid advancement as his advisor. In fact, through the deaths of these two he had reached the highest court rank at the age of just 35, retaining that rank for 35 years until he passed away; moreover, due to his longevity (considered impressive for the time) Tadahira and his descendants became the direct line of descent in place of Tokihira and succeeded to the posts of regent and chancellor until the beginning of the Meiji period. It is also said that the early restoration of Michizane's reputation was attributable not only to 'Michizane's vengeful ghost' but also to the conflict between Tadahira and the deceased Tokihira.

Character and Anecdotes

He had since childhood been known for his intelligence, and when his father Mototsune was about to build the Gokuraku-ji Temple Tadahira pointed out a certain spot, saying, 'If you build a Buddhist temple, this is the place.'
The natural features and scenery of that place were literally perfect. It is said that Mototsune made a point of remembering this ("Okagami (The Great Mirror)").

Also, during the reign of Emperor Daigo a soko (physiognomist) was summoned to the Imperial Court.
Seeing Prince Kanmei (who would later become Emperor Suzaku), he judged, 'His appearance is too good.'
Seeing Tokihira, he judged him to be 'too clever.'
Seeing SUGAWARA no Michizane, he judged him to be 'too learned,' but none was judged to be good in every aspect.
Then, seeing Tadahira at a lower seat, the physiognomist pointed him out and praised him highly, saying, 'Spirit, cleverness, knowledge, appearance: he is outstanding in them all; so, if there is anyone who will serve the court for a long time and maintain its glory and respect, this is him.'
The Cloistered Emperor Uda already liked Tadahira, and after hearing this story he prized him all the more and had his princess (MINAMOTO no Junshi) marry him beneath her rank ("Kojidan" (Talks of Ancient Matters)").

It is also said that Tadahira was so generous and full of affection that there was no one who did not mourn his death ("Eiga monogatari (A Tale of Flowering Fortunes)"). There is a diary called "Teishinko-ki," which was written about yusoku kojitsu (court councils and the study of imperial liturgies and court ceremonies).

[Original Japanese]