Fujiwara no Yoshinobu (藤原能信)

FUJIWARA no Yoshinobu (995 - March 24, 1065) was a court noble and court official who lived in the Heian period. He was the dainagon (major counselor) and the togu no daibu (a master of the Crown Prince's Palace). He was the fifth son of FUJIWARA no Michinaga, and his mother was MINAMOTO no Akirako who was a daughter of MINAMOTO no Takaaki, who was the sadaijin (ministry of the left).

Brief Personal History
It seems that Yoshinobu was as strong-willed as his father, Michinaga and, when he was 15 years old, he caused a fight with FUJIWARA no Korenari (the second son of late FUJIWARA no Yoshichika) who happened to be sitting with Yoshinobu in a ceremony celebrating the birth of the Emperor Gosuzaku (later, the Emperor Gosuzaku) and Korenari, who was one-sidedly injured by followers of Yoshinobu who sided with Yoshinobu got angry and became a priest. Later, however, his strong-willed attitude gradually changed to a sense of rivalry between his elder brother FUJIWARA no Yorimichi who had a different mother.

Michinaga had two major wives. They were MINAMOTO no Rinshi (a daughter of MINAMOTO no Masanobu who was the sadaijin) who gave birth to Yorimichi and FUJIWARA no Norimichi and Yoshinobu's mother, MINAMOTO no Akirako. While Rinshi was Michinaga's first wife and, at the same time, the daughter of the serving daijin at that time and helped to promote Michinaga, the father of Akirako had been sadaijin like as Masanobu, but had already died and had been exiled due to the Anna Incident. Therefore, while children from Rinshi were treated as legitimate children, promotion of children from Akirako were limited to lower positions. While brothers of Yoshinobu strived for promotion by acting in concert with Yorimichi, Yoshinobu refused and quarreled with Yorimichi openly, sometimes making his father angry. Therefore, his last promotion was to Shonii, Gon Dainagon (provisional major counselor) in 1021 and there was no promotion for Yoshinobu since then.

In 1032, he played a role of Kakanyaku (presenter of the crest at Genpuku ceremony) for Genpuku (a ceremony to celebrate somebody's coming of age) of FUJIWARA no Nobunaga, a son of Norimichi who was Yoshinobu's younger brother from another mother. In 1037, when the Imperial Princess Teishi (later, Yomeimonin) was selected as the socond consort (later, Empress) for the Emperor Gosuzaku, Yoshinobu was appointed to the chugu daibu (a master of the place of the second consort of the emperor) who was a close aide to the chugu. Notwithstanding that it had already been decided that Yorimichi's adopted daughter, Genshi, would enter the Imperial Court as a new consort of the Emperor, he dared to assume the top position of the party. Later, he assumed the position as guardian of the Imperial Prince Takahito (later, Emperor Gosanjo) born from the Imperial Princess Teishi. Later, in 1045, when the Emperor Gosuzaku fell seriously ill, Yoshinobu pleaded with the Emperor Gosuzaku to will him as successor, and the Emperor Goreizei (elder brother from different mother of the Imperial Prince Takahito) decreed that the Imperial Prince Takahito be made the Crown Prince, so Yoshinobu was successful in his goal.

However, a lot of people rumored as 'Each brother, Yorimichi and Norimichi, has made their own daughter a consort and, if a boy is born, the Crown Prince will be changed' and they looked at the Imperial Prince Takahito and his togu daibu, Yoshinobu coolly and no candidate for the position of consort to the Imperial Prince could be decided even after the Imperial Prince came of age. Yoshinobu narrowly prevented an abnormal situation of there being 'no Crown Princess' by making his own adopter daughter, FUJIWARA no Moshi, who was a daughter of FUJIWARA no Kinnari, an elder brother of his wife, Yosiko, the Crown Princess and absorbing accusations such as 'the official rank of the real father is too low' towards himself.

Yoshinobu who had been a sole supporter of the Imperial Prince Takahito as the togu no daibu for 20 years after that ended his life without watching enthronement of the Imperial Prince Takahito. This was only six days after the possibility to become udaijin was opened, due to the death of the udaijin, FUJIWARA no Yorimune (Yoshinobu's elder brother from the same mother).

Three years thereafter, however, when the Emperor Goreizei died without leaving any son, the Imperial Prince Takahito ascended the throne as Emperor Gosanjo and then Moshi's son, the Emperor Shirakawa ascended the throne. The Emperor Gosanjo selected an adopted son of Yoshinobu, FUJIWARA no Yoshinaga, who succeeded the togu no daibu after the death of adoptive father, to Naidaijin (minister). The Emperor Shirakawa conferred Yoshinobu the official position of Daijodaijin (Grand minister of state) and, reportedly, called him 'Daibu dono' without fail and never lost his respect to Yoshinobu.

It is not clear whether Yoshinobu had any ambitions for sessho (a regent) or kanpaku (a chancellor to an adult emperor). However, it is a fact that the administration by Emperor Gosanjo and Emperor Shirakawa as well as the commencement of the cloister government after that which brought the regency government, continuously influenced Yoshinobu's life negatively, to its end. By the way, although a view held by a small minority it is said that the author of "Okagami" (The Great Mirror), that described the history of Michinaga and his family with a sharp point of view, was Yoshinobu.

Official Rank

1006, Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade), jiju (chamberlain)
1007, Uhyoe no suke (assistant captain of the Right Division of Middle Palace Guards)
1010, kurodo (the emperor's secretary); Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade)
1011, shonagon (minor counselor), concurrently; kurodo to the new emperor; Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade)
1012, chugu no gon no suke (acting assistant of the office of the Consort's Household), concurrently
1013, Sakone gon no chujo (Provisional Middle Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards); Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain)
1014, Omi no gon no kami (Provisional Governor of Omi Province); Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank); Sakyo no daibu (Master of the Eastern Capital Offices)
1015, Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank)
1016, Ukone no Gon no chujo (Provisional Middle Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards); Junii (Junior Second Rank)
1017, Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state)
1018, Chugu Gon no daibu (provisional master of the Consort's Household); Shonii (Senior Second Rank)
1010, Sahyoe no kami (Captain of the Left Division of Middle Palace Guards)
1021, Gon Dainagon (a provisional chief councilor of state)
1033, azechi (royal investigator), concurrently
1035, chugu daibu, concurrently
1037, Kogogu daibu (Master of the Empress's Household), concurrently
1045, Togu no daibu (Master of the Crown Prince's Quarters), concurrently

[Original Japanese]