Fujiwara no Sanenobu (藤原誠信)

FUJIWARA no Sanenobu (964 - September 28, 1001) was a Kugyo (top court official) during the mid Heian period. He was the eldest son of FUJIWARA no Tamemitsu, who held the title of Daijo-daijin (Grand minister of state). He held the rank of Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) and the titles of Sangi (councilor) and Saemon no kami (captain of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards).

He was a quick learner as a young boy and recited "Rikyo Hyakuniju Ei" (An anthology of 120 poems by Li Jiao) at the age of seven. His father, Tamemitsu, placed high expectations on Sanenobu, and asked MINAMOTO no Tamenori, a renowned authority of literature at the time, to compile "Kuchizusami," a textbook for young aristocrats, and repeatedly implored his elder paternal half-brother FUJIWARA no Kaneie, who held the title of Sessho (regent), to make his son a Sangi. (It is believed that Tamemitsu ran a smear campaign against Sanenobu's competitor, FUJIWARA no Sanesuke of the Ononomiya school, and brought a slanderous report to Kaneie - "Shoyuki", Diary of FUJIWARA no Sanesuke).

However, as Sanenobu grew older, it was revealed that he took after his father and lacked his competence as a politician, and he also took to drink and often blundered at parties. He gradually lost his popularity against his clever younger maternal half-brother, FUJIWARA no Tadanobu. Hoping to take over the vacant position of Chunagon (vice-councilor of state), he told Tadanobu not to apply for a promotion in advance, but was defeated when FUJIWARA no Michinaga, who doubted Sanenobu's competence, backed up Tadanobu's appointment as Chunagon. Defeated in the campaign, Sanenobu felt deep animosity towards Michinaga and Tadanobu; he was inflamed by anger, refused to eat, and finally fell ill and died. According to the description of "Okagami" (The Great Mirror), his suffering was so horrible that his clenched fingers gored the palm of his hand and penetrated its back.

[Original Japanese]