Japan: Minamoto and Taira

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  • Topic: Shogun, History of Japan, Minamoto clan
  • Pages : 2 (561 words )
  • Download(s) : 229
  • Published : June 10, 2012
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Sapna Rampersaud

From the time of the Gempei Wars (1180-1185) between the Taira and Minamoto families and the rising of the Tokugawa Shogunate in the 1600's, the Japanese government generally declined. As provincial families dominated the diminishing imperial court, there was a severe decline of the central administration and the supreme authority dissipated. 
Rival families, Taira and Minamoto, fought for 5 years in the period of Japanese history known as the Gempei Wars. During these 5 years, great suffering was brought to the peasants. There lands were ravaged leading them to fight against one another. Eventually the samurai defeated all of the poorly trained peasants. In the last year of the Gempei Wars, 1185, the Taira house faction was destroyed by the Minamoto. After their victory, they established the bakufu, or military government, centered at Kamakura. At this time, the feudal age of Japan had begun. As all of this was occurring, Chinese influence began to diminish and Chinese Buddhism was transformed into some Japanese religion. As political institutions in China weakened, the Chinese model became less relevant. By 838, the Japanese court discontinued affiliating themselves with the Tang court by no more visits, bowing nor tribute payments.
The Kamakura regime was then weakened by the Minamoto leader, Yoritomo, due to his great fear of family mutiny. His fear led him to become vastly suspicious of his relatives, which resulted in their assassinations and exiles. These actions he committed for the protection of his throne led to the outcome of no able heir. After his death and his weakened successors, there was a scramble of bushi lords to build up their own power and enlarge their domains. Soon after, the Hojo family emerged and dominated Kamakura.
In the 14th century, the situation worsened further. Ashikaga Takuaji, the head of one of the branches of the Minamoto family, led a revolt of the bushi. The aftereffect was the overthrowing of the...
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