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The Imperial Court in the Age of the Shoguns?

 
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Sima Qian
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 6:36 pm    Post subject: The Imperial Court in the Age of the Shoguns? Reply with quote
Yes I know, the Kamakura officially ushered in what had been the already defacto decline of the importance of the Imperial Court. As an institution its often portrayed as a non-entity in the backdrops of exciting times like the Onin War or Sengoku Jidai...

Nevertheless, i'm kind of curious as to what the folks in the Kyoto Court were doing during these time periods. The revolving occupant of the Chrysanthemum Throne seem to still retain some level of ritual authority - seeing how the various winners of the struggles during the Genpei, Onin, and Sengoku Jidai had to eventually seek the "rubber stamp" of approval.

A friend of mine also noticed that the iracible Fujiwara Clan, despite being long past the apex of control they exerted during the Heian period, seems to pop up (or at the very least, their descendants) every so often as mediators between the military elite and the Court all the way up to the Meiji Restoration.

Any thoughts on the matter (or good books to read?) ?
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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 4:05 am    Post subject: Re: The Imperial Court in the Age of the Shoguns? Reply with quote
Sima Qian wrote:
Yes I know, the Kamakura officially ushered in what had been the already defacto decline of the importance of the Imperial Court. As an institution its often portrayed as a non-entity in the backdrops of exciting times like the Onin War or Sengoku Jidai...


Actually, while that's still a common perception, most of academia has pushed that "decline" back to the Muromachi. Check out Conlan's State of War or much of Jeff Mass's later work--the idea is that Kamakura was not a replacement of Imperial authority, merely a compromise delegation of land tenure management for the warrior class to warrior leadership. Because most early work on politics and economics of this time was focused on land tenure, it assumed because Kamakura gained significant control over this area, it gained control over all areas, but this is not really borne out on closer look. Conlan makes the case (I recently finished re-reading his book, so it's fresh in my mind) that the Court didn't really lose too much power until the war between the Northern and Southern courts fractured the noble class.

Quote:
Nevertheless, i'm kind of curious as to what the folks in the Kyoto Court were doing during these time periods. The revolving occupant of the Chrysanthemum Throne seem to still retain some level of ritual authority - seeing how the various winners of the struggles during the Genpei, Onin, and Sengoku Jidai had to eventually seek the "rubber stamp" of approval.


I haven't read it yet, but Conlan's latest book, From Sovereign to Symbol: An Age of Ritual Determinism in Fourteenth Century Japan
seems like a good place to start. Like anything, the role of the court is much more complex than that of a "rubber stamp". Court-sanction was pretty important as a legitimizing tool.

Quote:
A friend of mine also noticed that the iracible Fujiwara Clan, despite being long past the apex of control they exerted during the Heian period, seems to pop up (or at the very least, their descendants) every so often as mediators between the military elite and the Court all the way up to the Meiji Restoration.


Toyotomi Hideyoshi had himself adopted into the Fujiwara clan so he could claim the title of Kampaku. I don't think anything more needs to be said about the importance or power of the Fujiwara other than that. The modern fixation on the title of Shogun is a post-facto assumption of supreme importance based on the longevity and rhetoric of the Tokugawa bakufu.
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