Ise-Heishi (Taira clan) (伊勢平氏)

The Ise-Heishi (Taira clan) was started as a family by TAIRA no Korehira, a child of TAIRA no Sadamori who fought with valor during the Johei and Tengyo Wars. Even within the Taira clan, the Ise-Heishi (Taira clan), and in particular links with TAIRA no Masamori, led to instances where they were called "Heike."


From the end of the 10th century to the 11th century, military disputes were fought out by family member TAIRA no Munemori, which cemented their position as military aristocrats. However, at first they had not assembled the same degree of strength as the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan), and by the time of the first half of Retired Emperor Shirakawa's rule, they had barely managed to achieve the court rank of goi (fifth rank), at the time they were amongst the lowest ranking courtiers, the samurahihon (minor nobility). The Ise-Heishi (Taira clan) pedigree includes Kanmu-Heishi (Taira clan) lines of TAIRA no Kunika and TAIRA no Sadamori, as with other representative branches of families such as Bando Hachi Heishi (the Eight Taira Groups of the East), they lived in the Kanto (Eastern) region of Japan. However, within the Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan), powerful elements of the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan) based in Kamakura extended their influence, amongst dependents of the Taira clan living in regional locations who also gave their allegiance, the Ise-Heishi (Taira clan) was not disposed to become part of the Minamoto clan and chose to leave Ise Province; ultimately, like the Minamoto clan, as military nobles they chose the path to serve the Imperial Court and powerful aristocratic families.

Afterwards, the Ise-Heishi (Taira clan) under FUJIWARA no Michinaga, as MINAMOTO no Yorinobu and others were subsequently called "Michinaga's Four Devas" (guardian gods) by TAIRA no Korehira and together with the Minamoto clan, boasted about being an unmatched warrior family, but family lineage and influence, together with official rank, were overshadowed by the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan). However, the Regent's family was using its position behind-the-scenes to influence the formation of a Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan) powerbase in the Eastern provinces. In response, the Ise-Heishi (Taira clan) had, for their part, served consecutively as governors in the Western provinces and were in the process of shoring up their sphere of influence centered around the Inland Sea and Kyushu area.

Moreover, the control of the Regents was waning, direct Imperial rule was resurging following Emperor Gosanjo ascending the throne, and influence amongst the Minamoto and Heike gradually reversed: parent and child in the Earlier Nine Years' War, subjugation in the Later Three Years' War, standing of class and military leaders, increasing wariness of the Imperial Court towards the deepening trust between regional warriors and MINAMOTO no Yoriie of the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan), and under the rule of Emperor Shirakawa relations gradually began to grow frosty. After extending their influence, the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan) service of the Regents was not as it had been previously: they drifted apart from the Regents, who gradually lost support, and their influence waned. TAIRA no Masamori, also presented his lands in Iga Province to the Retired Emperor Shirakawa, was honored by a parade of the Hokumen samurai (the Imperial Palace Guards), and the Ise-Heishi (Taira clan) was gradually taken into the confidence of the Retired Emperor and Imperial Court. The Ise-Heishi (Taira clan) thus came to hold sway over the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan).

In particular, what decided the trend was a complaint made to the Imperial Court about an attack by MINAMOTO no Yoriie's second son MINAMOTO no Yoshichika (who was considered the successor to the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan) and Governor of Tsushima). This resulted in banishment, and because he was subsequently also involved in attacks at the penal colony in Oki Province, at the order of TAIRA no Masamori of the Ise-Heishi (Taira clan), a search-and-kill squad was formed and apparently made an attack. Following this, in 1107, the apparently actively anti-Imperial Court MINAMOTO no Yoshichika search-and-kill commander in Izumo Province was appointed Governor of Inaba Province. Yoshichika was purportedly subdued the following year, and what was supposedly meant to be Yoshichika's severed head was taken back to Kyoto.

Masamori's child TAIRA no Tadamori was also allowed to enter the inner court during Retired Emperor Toba's time and received patronage: becoming a courtier and successive promotions up to the role of Gyobu-kyo (Minister of Justice). TAIRA no Tadamori gradually received roles commensurate with the rank of a noble, which led to enhanced status of his family. Masamori served as Governor of Bizen and Ise Provinces and in other posts, and Tadamori became Governor of Harima and Ise Provinces and served in other posts. This was to form the basis of financial wealth of members of the Ise-Heishi (Taira clan) who followed.

Following the death of TAIRA no Tadamori, he was succeeded by TAIRA no Kiyomori, who suppressed the Hogen Disturbance and Heiji Disturbance, and was promoted to Juichi (Junior First Rank) at court and Dajo daijin (Prime Minister), thus becoming "tenka-bito" (a person who holds the reins of government) and leading light of the 'Heike' family.

According to the classic piece of literature "Tales of Heike," the family comprised: 16 nobles, in excess of 30 courtiers, and in excess of 60 efu (palace guards) and shoshi (government officials), and several provinces were fiefdoms. In Japan at the time, they had been granted half the provinces (in excess of 30 provinces) and boasted of a splendor that 'Those who have never lived as part of the Family must be brutes' (in fact, this statement included an exaggeration; at that period of time there would have been a maximum of 12 individuals in line to be nobles).

[Original Japanese]