Fujiwara no Yoshitsugu (藤原良継)

FUJIWARA no Yoshitsugu, 716-September 18th (or October 27th on the lunar calendar) in 777, was a noble in the Nara period. He was the second son of FUJIWARA no Umakai. His mother was ISHIKAWA no Kunimina no Otoji. His original name was Sukunamaro. His official court rank was Junii (Junior Second Rank) and Naidaijin (Minister of the Center). He was posthumously awarded the rank of Shoichii (Senior First Rank) and the post of Daijo-daijin (Grand minister of state). He was the maternal grandfather of both Emperor Heizei and Emperor Saga.


After his father Umakai's death, he was exiled to Izu Province for his role in his brother Hirotsugu's rebellion (the Rebellion of FUJIWARA no Hirotsugu). Two years later Sukunamaro returned; however, the Fujiwara Shikike (the Ceremonial House of the Fujiwara clan) rapidly declined compared to Nanke (the Southern House of the Fujiwara clan) and Hokke (the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan), so he was in a weakened position. At that time, FUJIWARA no Nakamaro of Nanke reached the peak of his power and while his three sons (FUJIWARA no Masaki, FUJIWARA no Kusumaro and FUJIWARA no Asakari) became Sangi (Councilor) in 762, Sukunamaro even at age of 47 had still not been appointed to Sangi. Under these circumstances, Sukunamaro conspired with SAEKI no Imaenishi, ISONOKAMI no Yakatsugu and OTOMO no Yakamochi to plot the assassination of FUJIWARA no Nakamaro; however, the plan was leaked to Nakamaro. In 763 they were arrested, but Sukunamaro took sole responsibility for the affair and due to his majesty, one of eight unpardonable crimes, he was dismissed from office and deprived of his surname.

In 764 when Nakamaro raised a rebellion (the Rebellion of FUJIWARA no Nakamaro), Sukunamaro was issued imperial rescript and defeated Nakamaro with leading several hundred troops and then gave Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade). In 766 he was promoted to Jusani (Junior Third Rank). He became Kugyo with ISONOKAMI no Yakatsugu who was appointed to Sangi.

After Emperor Koken's death, He worked for Shirakabe no okimi (Prince Shirakabe) or Emperor Konin to the throne. In 770 he changed his name to Yoshitsugu. After FUJIWARA no Nagate passed away in 771, Yoshitsugu became a central part of the Fujiwara family as a meritorious retainer of Emperor Konin's throne and was assigned as Naishin so occupied the next position of Daijokan (Grand Council of State) after ONAKATOMI no Kiyomaro. In 777 he passed away shortly after that he became Naidaijin (Minister) and was awarded Juichii (Junior First Rank).

FUJIWARA no Otomuro, a daughter of Yoshitsugu and 阿倍古佐美AHE no Kosami, was the legal wife of Yamabe no Okimi or Prince Yamabe (Emperor Kammu) and the mother of Imperial Prince Ate (Emperor Heizei), Imperial Prince Kamino (Emperor Saga) and Imperial Princess Koshi and then with Emperor Heizei's throne, Yoshitsugu was raised to Shoichii and Daijo-daijin. However, after 託美Takumi, Yoshitsugu's only son, who was Echizen no kuni no kami (Governor of Echizen Province) was killed by a rebel in Nagaoka-Kyo, the family line came to an end.

There is no Sukunamaro's poem in "Manyoshu" (the oldest anthology of tanka); however, there is a poem written by his wife, ISHIKAWA no Iratsume (it was about her genuine affection for him, Volume 20-4491) which was passed down at the banquet held in Mikata no Okimi's house on December 18th in 757. In July of 746, Sukunamaro was appointed as Echizen no kuni no kami (Governor of Echizen Province) while OTOMO no Yakamochi as Ecchu no kami (Governor of Ecchu Province). However, he was sent to Kazusa area as Kazusa no kami (Governor of Kazusa Province) as early as in September, so OTOMO no Surugamaro became Echizen no kuni no kami.

[Original Japanese]