Page 1 of 5

The Shogun in Japanese History From 1192 A.D. until 1867,

Continues for 4 more pages »
Read full document

The Shogun in Japanese History From 1192 A.D. until 1867,

Page 1 of 5
The Shogun in Japanese History From 1192 A.D. until 1867, almost continuously, Japan was under the rule of a Shogun. The term is a derivative of "Sei-i-tai-shogun," which translates as "Great Barbarian Subduing General," and was first used in the Nara period. Although the regular structure of the empire remained intact, the Shogun became the de facto ruler of Japan. The Shoguns were not all great military leaders. Often to gain power one would need these skills, but for the vast majority of the period, the title was inherited or peacefully transferred. There were three main periods of Shogun rule: Kamakura, Ashikaga, and Tokugawa.

The Kamakura Shogunate The first of the Shoguns was Yoritomo of the Minamoto clan. The Minamoto clan held power in the east, while their opponents, the Taira, were strong in the southwest. A series of power struggles marked the twelfth century, with the Taira emerging victorious over the Minamoto and the ruling Fujiwara in 1160. In 1180, the Yoritomo led a successful uprising, and drove the Taira from power in 1185.

Yoritomo set up a military capital, or bakufu, in Kamakura after the conflict. The emperor bestowed the title of "Shogun" on him in 1192. Yoritomo was already extremely powerful because of his military network, and this designation made him even more so. The emperor became powerless against the new ruler in Kamakura.

Yoritomo's power came from the new warrior class, the samurai, which he maintained as a privileged order, and from a network of political and military alliances. Yoritomo attached warriors to himself, and this was the seed of feudalism in Japan. Additionally, this allowed him to forbid ties with the royal court. Stewards of estates, and constables and protectors assigned to provinces by the shogun, and these positions eventually became hereditary.

The Kamakura government was broken into three main bodies. The Samurai-dokoro or "service room" concentrated on the military, becoming involved in all...