Minamoto no Tameyoshi (源為義)

MINAMOTO no Tameyoshi was a samurai who lived towards the end of the Heian period. He was the head of the Kawachi-Genji (of the Minamoto clan) and his grandfather was MINAMOTO no Yoshiie. He was the son of MINAMOTO no Yoshichika and was adopted by MINAMOTO no Yoshitada (or MINAMOTO no Yoshiie, according to some scholars). He was ranked Jugoi (Junior Fifth Rank) and served in the Kebiishi (police) section of the Emonfu (Headquarters of the Outer Palace Guards). He was also known as Rokujo no Hangan (literally Judge of Rokujo).


He is believed to have taken over as the head of the Kawachi-Genji after his foster father, MINAMOTO no Yoshitada (who was actually his uncle and the fourth son of MINAMOTO no Yoshiie), was assassinated. In 1109, he was ordered by Emperor Shirakawa to hunt down and kill MINAMOTO no Yoshitsuna (a younger brother of MINAMOTO no Yoshiie and the grand uncle of the clan), who had allegedly assassinated Yoshitada, but did not carry it out. Later, after the real assassin of Yoshitada was found to be MINAMOTO no Yoshimitsu, another younger brother of Yoshiie, Tameyoshi was commended and made Saemon no jo (Lieutenant at the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards). Later, he was appointed to the Kebishi and called Rokujo no Hangan. During the Eikyu no Goso (Eikyu Petition) in 1113, when the priests of Kofuku-ji Temple rioted, calling for the replacement of the appointed head of the temple, he was orderd by the Retired Emperor Shirakawa to prevent the priests from coming into Kyoto.

In 1143, he approached FUJIWARA no Yorinaga, who was dearly loved and trusted by his father, Otono (Grand Minister) FUJIWARA no Tadazane, and offered his services and, in 1150, for the benefit of Yorinaga, he raided the villa of the Kanpaku (the chief adviser to the Emperor), FUJIWARA no Tadamichi, together with his son, Yorikata, taking the Shuki-daiban (vermilion-lacquered utensils and stands), possession of which signified the head of the clan. This reveals that he maintained a close relationship with the Sekkan-ke (the family entitled to serve as chief adviser to the Emperor), following the practice of his ancestors.

In 1154, his eighth son, MINAMOTO no Tametomo committed violent acts while disguised as the So-Tsuibushi (the head of the military and police) of Chinzei in Kyushu. This made the Cloistered Emperor Toba furious and in May 1155, Tameyoshi was dismissed from his posts of Saemon no daijo (Senior Lieutenant at the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards) and Kebiishi and handed over the family estate to his eldest son, MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo. It is said that he was in bad terms with Yoshitomo.

During the Hogen War in 1156, Tameyoshi, in command of the clan, including his sons, MINAMOTO no Yorikata and Tametomo, was defeated fighting for Daijo-tenno (a retired emperor) against Yoshitomo and TAIRA no Kiyomori on the Emperor's side. Defeated, he tried to flee to Togoku (the eastern part of Japan) but he surrendered himself to Yoshimoto and became a monk. In spite of Yoshitomo's plea for the life of Tameyoshi and his younger brothers for their distinguished war services, they were not pardoned and on August 24, they were beheaded by Yoshitomo, either in Funaoka, according to "Heihanki" (TAIRA no Nobunori's diary), or in Shichijo-Suzaku, according to "Hogen Monogatari" (Tales of the Hogen War).

Other Kawachi-Genji leaders
It is not until around the time that MINAMOTO no Yoritomo became Seii Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") and established the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) that the family estate is recognized to have been passed down from MINAMOTO no Yoshitada to MINAMOTO no Tameyoshi, then to MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo and then MINAMOTO no Yoritomo; it is uncertain that Tameyoshi was actually the head of the family when he was alive. Although some historical documents of a later period suggest that he was designated the heir of the Minamoto clan by MINAMOTO no Yoshiie, it can not be confirmed from contemporary sources. It is known that the following clan leaders also took over part of the Kawachi-Genji estate as Tameyoshi did, and that they considered themselves to be the heir of Yoshitada: MINAMOTO no Yoshinobu, the son of MINAMOTO no Yoshichika and Tameyoshi's elder brother; MINAMOTO no Yoshitaka, the second son of MINAMOTO no Yoshitada, who served as Sahyoe no gon no suke (Provisional Assistant Captain of the Left Division of Middle Palace Guards); and MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni, an elder brother of Yoshitada and a younger brother of Yoshichika.

Other Kawachi-Genji leaders of Tameyoshi's time
MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni: the third son of MINAMOTO no Yoshiie; ranked Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade), served as Vice Governor of Kaga Province, and was the father of Yoshiyasu ASHIKAGA, the first head of the Ashikaga clan.

MINAMOTO no Yoshinobu: the first son of MINAMOTO no Yoshichika (who was the second son of MINAMOTO no Yoshiie) and an elder brother of Tameyoshi; ranked Jushiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and served as Sahyoe no suke (Assistant Captain of the Left Division of Middle Palace Guards). MINAMOTO NO Yoshitaka: the second son of MINAMOTO no Yoshiie's fourth son and former clan head, MINAMOTO no Yoshitada; ranked Jushiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and served as Sahyoe no gon no suke.
MINAMOTO no Yohimitsu: the third son of MINAMOTO no Yoshiie; ranked Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) and served as Gyobu no sho (Deputy Assistant to the Minister of Justice).
MINAMOTO no Yoshitoki: the sixth son of the MINAMOTO no Yoshiie (with no post or rank given), who inherited the Ishikawa no sho manor

Personal Profile

In contrast to the Taira clan, who had been given high-ranking posts by the Retired Emperor Shirakawa and Emperor Toba, Tameyoshi was given the cold shoulder; having had his request to serve as Governor of Mutsu Province, a post served by his father, MINAMOTO no Yoriyoshi, and his grandfather, MINAMOTO no Yoriie, turned down, he had to serve as Saemon no jo for more than thirty years. This is partly because he maintained a close relationship with the losing side of the Sekkan-ke, who had been plagued with inheritance battles, which Tameyoshi remained unaware of, even after the the system of cloistered rule had been established and to compete with the Taira clan, who were close to FUJIWARA no Tadamichi, the Sessho (regent), he approached FUJIWARA no Yorinaga, who had been dearly loved by his father, Tadazane, and who looked to have a promising future, helping him become the head of the Fujiwara clan.

Financially, the family was affluent as it had fortunes handed down from generation to generation in their homeland, Tsuboi, Ishikawa-gun, Kawachi Province (Tsuboi, Habikino City, Osaka Prefecture). However, it is known that Tameyoshi was developing his own ideas for reviving the fortunes of the Minamoto clan, which, because of concerns about their future, had been declining due to too many offspring produced and adopted and scattered across the country.

However, Yorinaga, who, in retrospect, was destined to share his fate with Tameyoshi, was certainly a well-learned, knowledgeable man that no one could have competed with (if there was one, it was FUJIWARA no Shinzei), but he was cold, unloving, inflexible and therefore he met with opposition from people around him, when he insisted on punishing the Taira clan for causing a rebellion by priests from Gionsha Shrine, and he was also hated by Emperor Konoe. Tameyoshi had another setback after Emperor Goshirakawa took office, when he was dismissed from the hard-won post of Nairan-shoku (high-ranking official who inspected documents to be presented to the Emperor).

The clan was incessantly beset by internal feuds like the one between his second son, MINAMOTO no Yoshikata, and his grandchild, MINAMOTO no Yoshihira, and once he was removed from office and forced to retire in 1154 (as stated earlier) and his first son, MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo, who had been appointed Governor of Shimotsuke Province, took over as the head of the family, other Minamoto clan leaders increasingly switched their support to the more capable and competent Yoshitomo. This is considered to have adversely affected the relationship between father and son, causing Tameyoshi to treat Yoshitaka as his heir. All of these events culminated in the outbreak of the Hogen War, where his gallant death helped to partly salvage his reputation but made his long-term plan mentioned above pointless.

As his achievements show, he was not talented as a politician, skilled as a strategist, or dependable as the head of the Minamoto clan when compared to his immediate ancestors, Yoshiie, his great grandfather, Yoshichika, his brave father, and the skilled politician, Yoshitada, his adoptive father. It is true that he was a victim of his times but it is also true that his lack of ability contributed to the Minamoto clan's downfall.

[Original Japanese]