Fujiwara no Motonari (藤原基成)

FUJIWARA no Motonari (date of birth and death unknown) was an aristocrat from the end of the Heian period to the beginning of the Kamakura period. He was a son of FUJIWARA no Tadataka, Okura-kyo (Minister of the Treasury), who was of the lineage of FUJIWARA no Michitaka of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan. He was born around 1120. His mother was a daughter of FUJIWARA no Suetaka. One of her step brothers was FUJIWARA no Nobuyori who was a mastermind of the Heiji War. He was in charge of Mutsu no kami (the governor of Mutsu Province), Chinju-fu shogun (Commander-in-Chief of the Defense of the North) and Minbu shoyu (Junior Assistant Minister of Popular Affairs). He appears in the name of 'Motomichi' in the "Heiji monogatari" (The tale of the Heiji).


His father Tadataka was famous as a trusted vassal of the retired Emperor Toba and his brothers were also his trusted vassals. In addition, his sister was the legal wife of Motozane KONOE, Kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor), and her son Motomichi KONOE was also in charge of Kanpaku.

He was assigned to Mutsu no kami in April 1143 and Chinju-fu shogun in June, and went down to Hiraizumicho in Oshu. Although his term as Chinju-fu shogun was unknown, he was reappointed as Mutsu no kami again and held the office until January 1154.

During his term, he formed a friendship with FUJIWARA no Motohira, the head of the Oshu Fujiwara clan, who was the actual ruler of Oshu. Motohira was in fierce conflict with FUJIWARA no Morotsuna, a predecessor of Motonari, and Sueharu SATO, his trusted vassal, was killed by him. It can be guessed that he carried out a conciliatory policy with kokushi (provincial governors) after this event. In addition, it seems that he not only aimed at conciliation but also tried to incorporate Motonari into his ruling system and integrate the powers because Motonari had strong relations with the Imperial Court. Although the time is unknown, Motonari married off his daughter to FUJIWARA no Hidehira, an heir of Motohira. He went back to Kyoto just before he finished his term, and was assigned to Minbu shoyu in December 1155, but was exiled to the Mutsu Province because of enza (guilty due to a relative's crime) of his brother FUJIWARA no Nobuyori who was defeated in the Heiji War in 1159. After that, he lived in Koromogawa no tachi residence as Hidehira's father-in-law and established the position as political advisor of the Oshu Fujiwara clan. His close relatives were put in charge of successive Mutsu no kami, which seemed to have a significant influence on kokuga (provincial government offices) as well.

In addition, Naganari ICHIJO was a cousin of Motonari's father. His wife was Tokiwa gozen who had been a mistress of MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo. It is guessed that an approach by Naganori to Motonari was the reason why MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune, a son between Yoshitomo and Tokiwa gozen, went to Oshu.

After Hidehira died, FUJIWARA no Yasuhira, a grandchild of Motonari, succeeded the family estate and Motonari assisted him. Yasuhira was defeated by MINAMOTO no Yoritomo in the Battle of Oshu on July 1189 and was put in jail by Yoritomo, which was the end of the Oshu Fujiwara clan. Motonari surrendered and was captured by Taneyori TO, a gokenin (an immediate vassal of the Shogunate in the Kamakura and Muromachi through Edo periods) of Yoritomo, with his three sons on September 18 after the fall of Hiraizumi. He was released and came back to Kyoto later, but his fate after that was unknown.

[Original Japanese]