Empress Genshō

name = Empress Genshō
title =Empress of Japan

caption =
reign =The 2nd Day of the 9th Month of "Reiki 1" (October 3, 715) - The 4th Day of the 2nd Month of "Yōrō 8" (March 3, 724)
coronation =
othertitles =Empress Dowager Genshō (724 - 748)
Empress of Japan(715 - 724)
Princess Hidaka
predecessor =Empress Gemmei
successor =Emperor Shōmu
suc-type =
heir =
consort =none
issue =none
royal house =
royal anthem =
father =Prince Kusakabe
mother =Empress Gemmei
date of birth =The 9th year of Temmu's reign (680)
place of birth =Asuka, Japan
date of death =the 21st Day of the 4th Month of "Tenpyō" 20 (May 22, 748)
place of death =Nara, Japan
place of burial=Nahoyama-no-nishi no "Misasagi"|

Empress Genshō (元正天皇 "Genshō-tennō") (680 – May 22, 748) was the 44th imperial ruler of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. She was the sixth woman to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne. [The reigning empresses in the years before the reign of Genshō"-tennō" were: (1) Suiko, (2) Kōgyoku/Saimei, (3) Jitō, and (4) Gemmei; and the women sovereigns reigning after Genshō were (a) Kōken/Shōtoku, (b) Meishō, and (c) Go-Sakuramachi.] Her reign spanned the years from 715 through 724. [Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). "Annales des empereurs du Japon," pp. 65-67; Brown, Delmer "et al." (1979). "Gukanshō," pp. 271-272; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). "Jinnō Shōtōki." pp. 140-141.]


Before her ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, her personal name (her "imina") [Brown, pp. 264. [Up until the time of Emperor Jomei, the personal names of the emperors (their "imina") were very long and people did not generally use them. The number of characters in each name diminished after Jomei's reign.] ] was Hidaka"-hime". [Brown, p. 271.]

Empress Genshō was an elder sister of Emperor Mommu and daughter of Prince Kusakabe and his wife and later Empress Empress Gemmei, therefore a granddaughter of Emperor Temmu and Empress Jitō by her father and a granddaughter of Emperor Tenji through her mother. [Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). "Gokanshō," ppp. 271-272.]

Events of Genshō's life

Her succession was mainly for the purpose to hold the throne until Prince Obito, the son of her deceased younger brother Mommu, later Emperor Emperor Shōmu, would be mature enough ascend to the throne.

Obito was appointed to the crown prince in 714 by Empress Gemmei. In the next year, 715, Empress Gemmei, then in her fifties, abdicated in favor of her daughter Gensho because of her age and the youth of Obito who was then 14 years old.

* "Reiki 1", in the 9th month (715): In the 7th year of Gemmei"-tennō"'s reign (元明天皇7年), the empress abdicated; and the succession (‘‘senso’’) was received by her daughter, who held the throne in trust for her younger brother. Shortly thereafter, Empress Genshō is said to have acceded to the throne (‘‘sokui’’). [Brown, pp. 271-272; Varley, pp. 44, 141. [A distinct act of "senso" is unrecognized prior to Emperor Tenji; and all sovereigns except Jitō, Yōzei, Go-Toba, and Fushimi have "senso" and "sokui" in the same year until the reign of Go-Murakami.] ]

Obito remained as the crown prince of the new empress. Fujiwara no Fuhito, the most powerful courtier in Gemmei's court, remained so at her court until his death in 720. After his death, Prince Nagaya, a grandson of Emperor Temmu and her cousin, seized power. This power shift was a background of later conflicts between Prince Nagaya and Fuhito's four sons in the reign of Shōmu.

Under her reign, the edition of "Nihonshoki", the first Japanese history book was finished in 720. Organisation of law system (the ritsuryo) was being continued under the initiatives of Fuhito until his death. Those laws and codes were edited and enacted by Fujiwara no Nakamaro, a grandson of Fuhito, and published as "Yoro ritsuryo" under the name of Fuhito. Taxation system which had been introduced by Empress Jitō in the late of the 7th century, began to malfunction in those days. For compensation of decrease of tax revenue, under the initiative of Prince Nagaya, "Act of possession in three generations" was edicted in 723. Under this act, people were allowed to possess the field they cultivated newly in three generations in maximum. In the fourth generation, the right of possession would disappear and the field belong to the national government. This act was under the purpose to motivate new cultivation, but its effect continued about 20 years.

Empress Genshō reigned for 9 years. Although there were seven other reigning empresses, their successors were most often selected from amongst the males of the paternal Imperial bloodline, which is why some conservative scholars argue that the women's reigns were temporary and that male-only succession tradition must be maintained in the 21st century. [ [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070327i1.html "Life in the Cloudy Imperial Fishbowl,"] "Japan Times." March 27, 2007.] Empress Gemmei, who was followed on the throne by her daughter, remains the sole exception to this conventional argument.

In 724, she abdicated in favor of her nephew, who would be known as Emperor Shōmu. Genshō lived for 25 years after she stepped down from the throne. She died at age 65. [Varley, H. Paul. "Jinnō Shōtōki," p. 141.]

She did not marry during her life and left no child. Genshō's Imperial "misasagi" or tomb can be visited today in Narazaka-cho, Nara City. [ [http://narashikanko.jp/english/kan_spot_data/e_si73.html Genshō's "misasagi" -- image] ] [ [http://narashikanko.jp/english/aria_map/map_pdf/5.pdf Genshō's "misasagi" -- map] ]


"Kugyō" (公卿) is a collective term for the very few most powerful men attached to the court of the Emperor of Japan in pre-Meiji eras.

In general, this elite group included only three to four men at a time. These were hereditary courtiers whose experience and background would have brought them to the pinnacle of a life's career. During Genshō's reign, this apex of the "Daijō-kan" included:
* "Daijō-daijin"("Chi-daijō-kanji" 知太政官事), Toneri"-shinnō"(Prince Toneri) (舎人親王). (9th son of Emperor Temmu) Brown, p. 272.] 720-735
* "Sadaijin", Iso-no-Kami no Maro (石上麻呂). [see above] ] 708-717
* "Udaijin", Fujiwara no Fuhito (藤原不比等). [see above] ] 708-720
* "Udaijin", Prince Nagaya (長屋王). 721-724
* "Dainagon", Abe no Sukunamaro (阿倍宿奈麻呂). 718-720
* "Dainagon", Prince Nagaya (長屋王). 718-721
* "Dainagon", Tajihi no Ikemori (多治比池守). 721-730

Eras of Genshō's reign

The years of Genshō's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or "nengō". [Titsingh, p. 65.]
* "Reiki" (715-717)
* "Yōrō" (717-724)
* "Jinki" (724-729)


* Brown, Delmer and Ichiro Ishida, eds. (1979). [ Jien, c. 1220] , "Gukanshō; "The Future and the Past: a translation and study of the 'Gukanshō,' an interpretive history of Japan written in 1219" translated from the Japanese and edited by Delmer M. Brown & Ichirō Ishida." Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03460-0
* Titsingh, Isaac, ed. (1834). [Siyun-sai Rin-siyo/Hayashi Gahō, 1652] , "Nipon o daï itsi ran; ou, Annales des empereurs du Japon, tr. par M. Isaac Titsingh avec l'aide de plusieurs interprètes attachés au comptoir hollandais de Nangasaki; ouvrage re., complété et cor. sur l'original japonais-chinois, accompagné de notes et précédé d'un Aperçu d'histoire mythologique du Japon, par M. J. Klaproth." Paris: Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. [http://books.google.com/books?id=18oNAAAAIAAJ&dq=nipon+o+dai+itsi+ran ... Click link for digitized, full-text copy of this book (in French)]
* Varley, H. Paul , ed. (1980). [ Kitabatake Chikafusa, 1359] , "Jinnō Shōtōki ("A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns: Jinnō Shōtōki of Kitabatake Chikafusa" translated by H. Paul Varley)." New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-04940-4

ee also

*Japanese empresses

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