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Relative relationships between court nobles and samurai families - Konoe family, Shimazu clan, and Tsugaru clan

Japan's medieval and early modern periods can in some respects be described as a dual government between court nobles and samurai, but even though the reality was a samurai government, this dual structure remained in place until the Meiji Restoration. If we assume that the Jokyu Rebellion (1221) was the time when the Imperial Court lost its effective governing function, then for 650 years until the Meiji Restoration (1868), the Imperial Court issued unsubstantive official ranks and established a samurai government. This means that the right to govern has been relieved. If we include the period up to 1945, it can be said that it is more than 720 years.

The Edo shogunate gave a total of 100,000 koku, 30,000 koku to the imperial court and 70,000 koku to court nobles, as stipends. If Japan as a whole had about 20 million koku during the Keicho period, the cost of maintaining the fictitious court noble government would have been 0.5% of the total, which would have been reasonable for the shogunate, but court nobles generally lived a fairly simple life. During the peaceful Edo period, court nobles who were related to wealthy feudal lord families received financial assistance called ''Otetsudai(help)'' from each feudal lord, and there were many cases such as the Kuze family and the Nabeshima family, the Ichijo family and the Gosanke, and so on. Regarding the survival strategies of court nobles who lost the right to collect taxes with the collapse of the manor system, I have discussed the case of a court noble who became a feudal lord during the Sengoku period in a separate article. The court nobles who survived the Sengoku period had a lot of trouble teaching other traditional skills that had been passed down from generation to generation (Japanese poetry, kemari, musical instruments, etc.), but the Konoe family, the ``noble house closest to the imperial family'', was a little different.


The Shimazu clan, whose maiden name was Koremune, was originally of immigrant descent, but during the Sekkan period, it was the head of the Fujiwara family (a nobleman under a certain noble family), and the first generation Tadahisa was a vassal of Yoritomo. I touched on the "movement" of the Shimazu family in a separate article, but Shimazu Manor, which was Japan's largest manor in the 11th century, was donated to Kanpaku Yorimichi (son of Michinaga), and later, during the Yoritomo era, it was owned by Tadahisa Koremune. He was appointed as a subordinate (later called as "Jito") of the manor and thereafter called himself the Shimazu clan. The mansion was passed on to the Konoe family, but the Shimazu family and the Konoe family have been in a relationship for 800 years. In the Muromachi period, as Shimazu became the shugo daimyo of the three states of Satsuma, Osumi, and Hyuga, its relationship with the Konoe family weakened, but at the end of the 15th century, Tadamasa Shimazu sent servants to the head of the Konoe family and their exchanges resumed. After becoming a politician, the Konoe family's head changed hands with Hisamichi, Taneie, Sakihisa, and Nobutada, and while playing an active role in imperial court work and diplomacy, it played a role in supporting the samurai government's process of unifying the country from the side. In that sense, the Shimazu family, who tended to be out of touch with information about the capital, must have been extremely grateful for its cooperation with the Konoe family, which always had first-class information.  

The Tsugaru family is famous for its independence struggle with the Nanbu family, and was originally part of the Oura clan, a branch of the Nanbu family, but they changed their ancestors (!) and became independent. Tamenobu Tsugaru was granted an audience with Hideyoshi during his conquest of Odawara, and was given peace of mind, effectively securing his independence, but his grandfather Masanobu was recognized (as an adopted child) to be the son of Hisamichi Konoe and Masanobu's sister. Of course, he worked closely with the head of the family, Sakihisa Konoe, and sent him a huge amount of money and goods to become Sakihisa's adopted son. Afterwards, he not only changed from the Genji clan to the Fujiwara clan, but also received the family crest (button) and even made changes to the family tree. However, the biggest benefit is, who will take over the next Japanese government? In the end, the Tsugaru family was relieved by Hideyoshi, joined the eastern army at Sekigahara, and did not join the Ou clan alliance during the Boshin War.


The reason why both Shimazu and Tsugaru survived the Sengoku period and the Meiji Restoration is because they have similar geographical conditions at the northern and southern ends of Japan, so they had no choice but to place more emphasis on access to the capital, and I think it was a big reason for their victory to share first-class intelligence with the Konoe family. Before making a big decision, it is important to have sufficient reliable information and analysis.



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