Fujiwara no Kaneie (藤原兼家)

FUJIWARA no Kaneie (born in 929, birth date unknown - July 31, 990) was a kugyo (Court noble) who lived in the Heian Period. He was promoted as high as Sessho (Regent), Kanpaku (Chief Advisor to the Emperor), and Dajo-daijin (Chancellor of the Realm) at the Juichii rank (Junior First Rank). He was the third son of FUJIWARA no Morosuke of, and his mother was FUJIWARA no Moriko, who was a daughter of FUJIWARA no Tsunekuni. He was the father of FUJIWARA no Michitaka, FUJIWARA no Michikane, and FUJIWARA no Michinaga. It is also known that one of his wives was FUJIWARA Michitsuna no haha (Mother of Michitsuna FUJIWARA), who was the author of "Kagero Nikki" (The Gossamer Years).

He was the third son of the Udaijin (Minister of the Right) FUJIWARA no Morosuke, but he was promoted higher than his second oldest brother, FUJIWARA no Kanemichi. When the oldest brother and FUJIWARA no Koretada, who was a sessho, died young during the reign of Emperor Enyu, Kaneie wished to be the next kanpaku, but his second oldest brother, Kanemichi, took that post. After becoming a kanpaku, Kanemichi hated Kaneie and kept interfering with Kaneie's promotion, and he even demoted Kaneie immediately before his (Kanemichi's) death. After the death of Kanemichi, Kaneie was appointed U-daijin and gradually gained power within the Imperial Court. Through a conspiracy, he made Emperor Kazan step down and instead made Emperor Ichijo, born to his daughter, assume the throne so that he could become a Sessho. After that the Kaneie family dominated the Sessho and Kanpaku posts.

Kaneie was born the third son of an influential person, FUJIWARA no Morosuke, was appointed to the Jugoinoge rank (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) in 948, and was permitted to enter the Tenjo no ma room in Seiryo-den in 949 when he was only 10 years old. During the reign of Emperor Murakami, he was additionally appointed Ukyo-daibu (chief officer of the Right Capital Administrative Office) and Togu no suke (officer to the Imperial Prince).

In 967, as Emperor Reizei took over the throne, Kaneie became Kurodo no to (chief of secretaries to the emperor) instead of FUJIWARA no Kanemichi, who was an older brother of Kaneie born from the same mother, and additionally served as Sa-konoe no chujo (lieutenant general of the Left Office of the Imperial Guards). In 968, he passed Kanemichi and was appointed to the Jusanmi rank (Junior Third Rank). In 969, he became Chu-nagon (Middle Counselor) without first becoming Sangi (Director of palace affairs). Kurodo no to in general was considered to be a fourth rank post and those who were appointed to Kurodo no to were usually promoted to Sangi when they resigned as kurodo no to. However, Kaneie was promoted to the Jusanmi rank and stayed in that post until he was appointed Chu-nagon. This is believed to have occurred because his oldest brother Koretada had a plan to hold power over the Imperial Court in order to establish his own government and Kaneie was involved in this plan, and this has been believed to prove that Kaneie was involved in the Anna no hen (the Anna Incident). When his oldest brother, Koretada, became a Sessho, Kaneie was valued highly. Koretada not only tacitly permitted Kaneie marrying his daughter FUJIWARA no Choshi off to the Emperor, but also he promoted Kaneie to Dainagon (Major Counselor) at the Shosanmi rank (Senior Third Rank) in 972 and in addition appointed him to U-konoe no taisho (general of the Left Office of the Imperial Guards) and also Azechi (officer who patrols local areas to inspect local communities). As a result, Kaneie was ranked higher than Kanemichi, and this made Kanemichi strongly hate Kaneie.

In the same year, when Koretada resigned from this post due to a serious illness, Kaneie wished to become a Kanpaku, but Kanemichi presented the will of FUJIWARA no Anshi, who was the biological mother of Emperor Enyu, that 'the kanpaku post must be given in order of age among the brothers.'
Being kind, the Emperor followed the will, permitted Kanemichi to serve as a Nairan (an assistant who had the right to observe political affairs), and then appointed him Kanpaku.

Kaneie, who was envied by Kanemichi, faced misfortune. When Imperial Prince Koresada was born between Kaneie's daughter, Choshi, and the retired Emperor Reizei, Kanemichi abhorred this event and slandered it to Emperor Enyu. He also prevented Kaneie's second daughter, FUJIWARA no Senshi, from becoming the Empress.
Kaneie's promotions had stopped by then, and according to "Eiga Monogatari" (A Tale of Flowering Fortunes), Kanemichi commented that he 'wishes he could transfer Kaneie to Kyushu or some other place, but he could not because Kaneie did not commit any crime.'

In 977, Kanemichi became seriously ill. When he was sick in bed at home, a family member told him that the carriage of Kaneie had arrived. While he was thinking that Kaneie came to pay a visit even though they did not get along, the carriage passed the gate and went to Kinri (the Imperial Palace). Kanemichi got up feeling furious, went to the Imperial Palace in spite of sickness to execute personnel replacements for the last time, transferred the Kanpaku post to FUJIWARA no Yoritada, took the Udaisho and Azechi posts away from Kaneie, and demoted him to Jibu-kyo (Minister of the Interior). Kanemichi died shortly after.

Kaneie expressed his disappointment to Emperor Enyu by donating a choka (a long waka) to him. In reply, he wrote made an ode, 'Inabune no,' suggesting that Kaneie wait for a while.

Yoritada, who succeeded the Kanpaku post, felt pity for Kaneie and promoted him to U-daijin in 979 so that he could restore his power at the Imperial Court. In the following year, together with Tendai-zasu (chief priest of the Tendai sect of Buddhism) Ryogen, he built Eshin-in Temple in Yokogawa of the Enryaku-ji Temple to execute his father's will.

Senshi married the Emperor as Kaneie had long wished, and she gave birth to Imperial Prince Yasuhito. Kaneie hoped that Senshi would become Chugu (the second consort of the Emperor), but in 982, Emperor Enyu appointed FUJIWARA no Junshi, a daughter of Yoritada, to the post of Chugu. Greatly disappointed, Kaneie, together with Senshi and Imperial Prince Yasuhito, refused to come out of residence in the Higashi-sanjo-dono Palace. Emperor Enyu worried about the situation and sent a messenger to Higashi-sanjo, but Kaneie made no response.

In July, 983, wishing to show Sumai no sechie (the Imperial ceremony of Sumo wrestling) to Imperial Prince Yasuhito, Emperor Enyu asked Kaneie to visit the Imperial Palace, but he declined the request, saying that he was sick. However, Kaneie eventually relented and went to the Imperial Palace, because the Emperor sent messengers repeatedly.
The Emperor told him that 'I have been an Emperor for 16 years so far, and I have been planning to let the current Crown Prince (Emperor Kazan, a child of Emperor Reizei) ascend the throne. Then, I plan to appoint Yasuhito the Imperial Prince. I am sorry that you have been dissatisfied because you didn't know what I was thinking.'
This made Kaneie extremely satisfied.

In August, Emperor Enyu kept his promise and let Imperial Prince Morosada ascend the throne (Emperor Kazan), and then, he appointed Imperial Prince Yasuhito Crown Prince. Kaneie wished to become the Kanpaku, but Yoritada was still in the Kanpaku post, and furthermore, the Emperor's maternal uncle, Chunagon FUJIWARA no Yoshichika, was controlling the Imperial Court government.

Emperor Kazan was not only lustful but also emotional, and upon the sudden death of his empress FUJIWARA no Shishi that he cared for deeply, he was so disheartened that he said he would enter the priesthood. If Emperor Kazan withdrew himself from the post, Imperial Prince Yasuhito could become the Emperor. The second son of Kaneie, FUJIWARA no Michikane, therefore, strongly recommended the Emperor to enter the priesthood, and the Emperor seriously considered doing so. On the night of June 22, 986, the Emperor left the Imperial Palace with Michikane. These two noblemen were escorted by warriors who served Kaneie, including MINAMOTO no Yorimitsu. The Imperial Palace was in panic, as the Emperor had disappeared. The Emperor and Michikane entered Gankei-ji Temple in Yamashina Ward, and the Emperor had his head shaven and entered the priesthood first.
Michikane, however, left the temple saying that 'I would like to let my father see me for the last time before I enter the priesthood.'
The Emperor realized that he had been deceived, but it was too late.

The next morning, Chu-nagon FUJIWARA no Yoshichika and Sa-chuben (First Assistant Controller of the Left) FUJIWARA no Korenari ran to the Gankei-ji Temple only to find that Emperor Kazan was already a young Buddhist priest.

The conspiracy succeeded, and imperial Prince Yasuhito took over the throne (Emperor Ichijo). Kaneie then became a maternal relative of the Emperor, and then became a Sessho as well as the head of the clan. He was the first Emperor's maternal grandfather to become a Sessho since FUJIWARA no Yoshifusa (maternal grandfather of Emperor Seiwa) became the first vassal to be appointed Sessho. However, the superior officers of Kaneie, who at that time was a U-daijin, were Dajo-daijin FUJIWARA no Yoritada, who had been a Kanpaku, and Sa-daijin (Minister of the Left) MINAMOTO no Masanobu. Masanobu in particular had been serving as Sa-daijin since the reign of Emperor Enyu, and he was therefore much trusted by the Emperor when he became a cloistered emperor and so had a large influence on Dajokan (Grand Council of State). Furthermore, as neither Yoritada nor Masanobu had any maternal relations with powerful imperial members who could succeed the throne, Kaneie could not remove them from politics by charging them for treason. Kaneie, then, in the same year, had himself treated as Jun-san-gu (officially a vassal but treated as a member of the Imperial family) of the Juichii rank and resigned as U-daijin, thus becoming the first Sessho who was formerly a minister (meaning that he was not concurrently serving as a minister). By resigning as U-daijin, he was no longer a subordinate of Yoritada or Masanobu, and as Jun-san-gu, his post was guaranteed to be higher than all the other vassals. He also annoyed many people around him by rebuilding his own residence, Higashi-sanjo-den Palace, so that part of it would look like Seiryo-den Palace of Dairi (Imperial Palace), because young Emperor Ichijo lived there with his mother Senshi, by selecting his sons and brothers such as Michitaka or Michinaga as Court nobles, and by executing unreasonable personnel replacements such as replacing all officials with those who were in his own sect.
Meanwhile, however, he made a certain contribution to political stabilization during the reign of Emperor Ichijo by recruiting capable individuals and working hard to rebuild the bureaucracy system by issuing new regulations

Kaneie trusted Sa-chuben FUJIWARA no Arikuni and U-chuben (First Assistant Controller of the Right) TAIRA no Korenaka saying that 'they are my right and left eyes.'
Also, a renowned warrior, MINAMOTO no Yorimitsu, served Kaneie and donated 30 famous horses to him.

Kaneie is said to have greatly trusted Uchifushi no miko and followed her every single word for anything.

In 989, in spite of Emperor Enyu's objection, Kaneie appointed his eldest son Michitaka Nai-daijin (Minister of the Center) to realize the first '4-minister system' in the history of Ritsuryo code-based politics, and after Yoritada died in the same year, Kaneie appointed himself Dajo-daijin to take over his post. In 990, when Emperor Ichijo reached the age of maturity, Kaneie played the role of kakan-yaku (the role to place a crown on the head of the emperor at the coming-of-age ceremony). This event led to Kaneie's appointment to Kanpaku, but Kaneie let his son Michitaka take over the Kanpaku post 3 days after the appointment due to illness and entered the priesthood, and then he gave himself the Buddhist name Nyojitsu and lived in his villa Nijo-Kyogoku-dono Palace after renovating it into Hoko-in Temple until 2 months later, when he died of illness.

The Kaneie family greatly prospered and enjoyed its golden age during the generation of Michinaga, a son of Kaneie.

Record of Office and Rank
*All dates are based on the lunar calendar
On January 7, 948, he was appointed Jugoinoge.

On April 12, 949, he was permitted to enter the Tenjo no ma room in Seiryo-den.

On May 21, 950, he was appointed Ji-ju (Chamberlain).

On May 23, 951, he was reassigned as Uhyoe no suke (an official of the Right Imperial Guards).

On February 28, 955, he was assigned the additional post of Kii-gon no suke. On November 26, he was promoted to Jugoinojo while still serving as Uhyoe no suke and Kii-gon no suke.

On September 11, 956, he was additionally appointed Sho-nagon (Minor Counselor).

On January 7, 960, he was promoted to Shogoinoge. It is uncertain if he was still serving as Sho-nagon and Uhyoe no suke as well.

On January 7, 962, he was promoted to Jushiinoge. It is uncertain if he was still serving as Sho-nagon and Uhyoe no suke as well. On January 16, he was permitted to enter the Tenjo no ma room in Seiryo-den by the Imperial Prince (later Emperor Reizei, or Imperial Prince Norihira). On May 16, he was reappointed Hyobu-taifu (official of the Ministry of Military).

On January 3, 963, he was permitted to enter the Tenjo no ma room in Seiryo-den.

On March 27, 964, he was reappointed Sakyodaibu.

In January, 967, he was promoted to Jushiinojo while still serving as Sakyodaibu. On January 20, he was additionally appointed Mino no gon no kami (Lord of Mino Province). On February 5, he was additionally appointed Togu no suke. On June 10, he was additionally appointed Kurodo no to while still serving as Sakyodaibu and Mino no gon no kami. On September 1, he was additionally appointed Togu-gon no suke. On October 1, he was promoted to Shoshiinoge while still serving as Kurodo no to, Togu-gon no suke, and Mino no gon no kami. October 7, he was additionally appointed Sa-konoe-chujo (deputy official of the Left Imperial Guards). On November 23, he was promoted to Jusanmi while still serving as Kurodo no to and Sa-konoe-chujo (he set an example of a third rank official becoming Kurodo no to).

On February 7, 969, he was reappointed Chu-nagon (Middle Counselor) and concurrently appointed Togu no daibu. He was still serving as Kurodo no to and Sa-konoe-chujo (he set an example of being Chu-nagon and Sa-konoe-chujo at the same time). On April 11, he resigned as Kurodo no to. On August 13, he was permitted to enter the Tenjo no ma room in Seiryo-den. He resigned as Togu no daibu. On September 21, he was promoted to Shosanmi while serving as Chu-nagon and Sa-konoe-chujo.

On April 12, 970, he was additionally appointed Togu no daibu. On August 5, he was additionally appointed U-konoe-Daisho (Chief Official of the Right Imperial Guards) and resigned as Togu no daibu and Sa-konoe-chujo.

On February 29, 972 (leap year), he was reappointed Gon-dainagon (Deputy Major Counselor) while still serving as U-konoe-Daisho.

On January 26, 975, he was additionally appointed Mutsu-Dewa no Azechi (local community inspector for Mutsu and Dewa Provinces).

On October 11, 977, he resigned as U-konoe-Daisho and was additionally appointed Jibu-kyo (Minister of the Ministry of the Ceremonies).

On October 2, 978, he was promoted to Junii and was also reappointed U-daijin.

On March 27, 979, he was promoted to Shonii while still serving as U-daijin.

On June 24, 986, he became Sessho and the head of the Fujiwara clan by Imperial proclamation while still serving as U-daijin. On July 20, he resigned as U-daijin. On July 21, he was promoted to Juichii while still serving as Sessho and the head of the Fujiwara clan. On August 25, he became Jun-san-gu by Imperial proclamation.

On December 20, 989, he became Dajo-daijin by Imperial proclamation. He remained Sessho, Jun-san-gu, and the head of the Fujiwara clan.

On May 5, 990, he resigned as Sessho and Dajo-daijin but became Kanpaku by Imperial proclamation. On May 8, he resigned as Kanpaku and the head of the Fujiwara clan, and entered the priesthood.
His Buddhist name: Nyojitsu
On July 2, he died. He was died at the age of 62.
Posthumous Buddhist name: Hoko-in

[Original Japanese]