Fujiwara no Asatsune (藤原朝経)

FUJIWARA no Asatsune (973-August 22, 1029) was Kugyo (a top Court official) in the middle of the Heian period. His father was Dainagon (chief councilor of state) FUJIWARA no Asateru. His court rank was Shonii (Senior Second Rank) and his last post was Gon Chunagon (provisional vice-councilor of state).

He was born as the eldest son to the couple of FUJIWARA no Asateru, who was the third son of Kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor) FUJIWARA no Kanemichi and regarded as Kanemichi's successor, and a daughter of Imperial Prince Shigeaki. Around the time when he was born, his family was prosperous because Kanemichi, who was alive at the time, had just become Kanpaku to the Emperor Enyu, and Asateru also became Kugyo after being appointed to Sangi (councillor) and was promoted to Gon Chunagon in the next year.

After Kanemichi died in 977, however, the power in the government shifted to FUJIWARA no Yoritada followed by FUJIWARA no Kaneie, and his family became gradually went away from the inner circle of government. Under such situations, Asateru climbed up the ladder of promotion steadily compared with his brothers, and eventually he became Dainagon thanks to his intimate relation as drinking buddy with FUJIWARA no Naritoki and FUJIWARA no Michitaka, who was the eldest son of Kaneie and later became Kanpaku and Sessho (regent).

Asatsune was conferred a peerage in 986 at the age of 14 and started his career as a government official when he was appointed to Umanosuku (deputy minister for the institution for the horse care) in 988. At that time, Kaneie became Sessho thanks to the enthronement of the Emperor Ichijo and Asateru was also promoted from Gon Dainagon (provisional chief councilor of state) to Dainagon in 989. As seen from the above, he was conferred decent posts as a person of Kaneie's group and Asatsune's prospects for the future was not so dim.

However, his father Asateru died of infectious disease in 995, five years after Michitaka, who was the eldest son of Kaneie and friendly with Asateru, became Kanpaku. After being appointed to Umanosuke, Asatsune smoothly made his career as military officer, namely he was appointed to Saemon no suke (assistant captain of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards) in 991, promoted from Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) to Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade) in 993 and was appointed to Ukon no gon no shosho (Minor Captain of the Right Division of Outer Palace Guards) in the following year. Probably due to his father's death, however, he remained in the same post for about three years and was suddenly appointed to Ushoben (Minor Controller of the Right) in 997. As many officials including Kugyo died of infectious disease in 995, many persons belonged to the group of FUJIWARA no Michinaga, who became the new head of the Government, were appointed to new posts as the replacement of those who died. By contrast, Asatsune was transferred to the post of civil official after remaining in the same post for a long time and from this fact, it is gathered that the surrounding environment for Asatsune was gradually becoming severe.

In spite of his promotion in court rank, he was repeatedly appointed to similar government posts thereafter until he was appointed to Udaiben (Major Controller of the Right) in 1012; namely to Uchuben (Middle Controller of the Right), to Gon Sachuben (provisional Middle Controller of the Left) and once again to Uchuben. After the Emperor Sanjo ascended the throne in 1011, conflicts occurred between the Emperor and the head of the government, Michinaga concerning personnel affairs. Under such situations, Asatsune was appointed to several posts as a compromise personnel appointment because he belonged to neither Koichijo-ryu or Onomiya-ryu which was close to the Emperor nor Michinaga's group. As a result, he was appointed to Udaiben in August 1012 and thereafter, he was conferred Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) in December and was successively appointed to Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain), which was next to Kugyo, in January 1013, to Okurakyo (minister of Treasury) cum Kurodo no to in 1014 and finally to Sangi (Councilor), which was Kugyo, in 1015.

Although his promotion became slow after the Emperor Sanjo abdicated the throne in 1016, his practical experience as Benkan (Controller) was appreciated. In 1018, he was appointed to Udaiben Okurakyo cum Kageyu no kami (chief investigator of the records of outgoing officials) and was conferred Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) in reward for his effort in constructing a palace, and in 1020, he was appointed to Sadaiben (Major Controller of the Lesft) though he resigned from Okurakyo and Kageyu no kami. As seen from the above, he played a major role in the administrative jobs of the government including Jin no sadame (ancient cabinet council) by Kugyo. It seems that Asatsune became acquainted with Michinaga through the process of promotion, and his name was recorded in "Shoyuki" (The Diary of FUJIWARA no Sanesuke) as a Kugyo who participated in Michinaga's funeral in 1027. In view of the fact that most of persons of Chunagon (vice-councilor of state) and above at that time were Michinaga's relatives or his collaborators, Asatsune's appointment to Gon Chunagon (1023) and his promotion to Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) indicates that he was Kugyo who belonged to Michinaga group.

He resigned from Gon Chunagon on February 16, 1029 and died on August 22.

[Original Japanese]