- Empress Kōken
name = Empress Kōken
title =Empress of Japan
reign =749 - 758, 764 - 770
Emperor Shōmu, Emperor Junnin
Emperor Junnin, Emperor Kōnin
royal house =
royal anthem =
date of birth ="
place of birth =
date of death =the 4th Day of the 8th Month of "
place of death =
place of burial=Takano no "Misasagi" (Nara)|
Empress Shōtoku (称徳天皇 "Shōtoku-tennō") (718 –
August 28, 770August 28, 770 corresponds to the Fourth Day of the Eighth Month of the Fourth Year of Jingo-keiun of the traditional lunisolar calendarused in Japan until 1873.] ) was both the 46th and the 48th imperial ruler of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. The period in which she was the reigning sovereign stretched from 749 through the year of her death in 770. [Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). "Annales des empereurs du Japon," pp. 73-81; Brown, Delmer "et al." (1979). "Gukanshō," pp. 274-276; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). "Jinnō Shōtōki." p. 143-147.]
Shōtoku initially ruled as Empress Kōken (孝謙天皇 "Kōken-tennō") from 749 to 758. She abdicated in favor of her second cousin,
Emperor Junnin; but six years later she took the crown from him and reascended the throne. She never renounced her Buddhist vows, setting a precedent. Her posthumous name for this second reign (764-770) was known as Empress Shōtoku.cite journal | last = Bender | first = Ross | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = The Hachiman Cult and the Dōkyō Incident | journal = Monumenta Nipponica | volume = 34 | issue = 2 | pages = 125–53 | publisher = | location = | date = 1979 | url = | doi = | id = | accessdate = ]
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 Abe"-hime".Brown, p. 274.]
Events of Kōken's life
Tenpyō-kanpō1", on the 2nd day of the 7th month (749): In the 25th year of Shōmu"-tennō"'s reign (聖武天皇25年), the emperor died; and the succession (‘‘senso’’) was received by his daughter. Shortly thereafter, Empress Kōken is said to have acceded to the throne (‘‘sokui’’). [Brown, pp. 274; Varley, p. 44. [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.] ]
Empress Kōken reigned for ten 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, Empress Genshō, remains the sole exception to this conventional argument.
"Kugyō" (公卿) is a collective term for the very few most powerful men attached to the court of the
Emperor of Japanin 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 Kōken's reign, this apex of the "
Taihō", Emi no Oshikatsu (formerly Fujiwara Nakamaro). [see above] ]
Sadaijin", Tachibana no Moroe (formerly Katsuragi"-ō", Prince Katsuragi) (half brother of Empress Kōmyō). [see above] ]
Udaijin", Fujiwara no Toyonari(first son of Fujiwara no Muchimaro). [see above] ]
Udaijin", Fujiwara no Nakamaro(second son of Fujiwara no Muchimaro). [see above] ]
Eras of Kōken's reign
The years of Kōken's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or "
nengō". [Titsingh, p. 73.]
Events of Shōtoku's life
Tenpyō-hōji9", on the 1st day of the 1st month (765): In the 6th year of Junnin"-tennō"'s reign (淳仁天皇6年), the emperor was deposed by his adoptive mother; and the succession (‘‘senso’’) was received by former-Empress Kōken. Shortly thereafter, Empress Shōtoku is said to have acceded to the throne (‘‘sokui’’). [Brown, pp. 276; Varley, p. 44, 145.]
Kōken/Shōtoku's reign was exceedingly turbulent, and she survived coup attempts by both
Tachibana Naramaroand Fujiwara no Nakamaro.
Today, she is remembered chiefly for her alleged affair with a
Buddhist monknamed Dōkyō (道鏡), a man upon whom she heaped titles and power. An oracle from the Hachiman(八幡) shrine in Usa pronounced that the monk should be made emperor. But when the empress sent Wake no Kiyomaro(和気清麻呂) to verify the pronouncement, Hachimandecreed that only one of imperial blood should ascend to the throne. The affair illustrated the growing power of the Buddhistpriesthood and was a prime factor in Emperor Kammu's decision to move the capital away from Nara in 784. cite journal | last = Bender | first = Ross | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Performative Loci of "Shoku Nihongi" Edicts, 749-770 | journal = | issue = | pages = | publisher = | location = | date = 2007 | url = http://rossbender.org/performativeloci.html | doi = | id = | accessdate = ]
Jingo-keiun3", on the 4th day of the 8th month (769): Empress Shōtoku died at age 57.Brown, p. 276.]
Empress Shōtoku rule for ten years. As with the seven other reigning empresses whose successors were most often selected from amongst the males of the paternal Imperial bloodline, she was followed on the throne by a male cousin, 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. [see above] ] Empress Gemmei, who was followed on the throne by her daughter, remains the sole exception to this conventional argument.
Shōtoku died of
smallpox, after which she was succeeded by her first cousin twice removed, Emperor Kōnin. She should not be confused with Prince Shōtoku (572-622), who was one of the first in Japan to sponsor Buddhism. Shōtoku's Imperial "misasagi" or tomb can be visited today in Misasagi-cho, Nara City. [ [http://narashikanko.jp/english/kan_spot_data/e_si64.html Shōtoku's "misasagi" -- imge] ] [ [http://narashikanko.jp/english/aria_map/map_pdf/302.pdf Shōtoku's "misasagi" -- map (top left)] ]
The "kugyō" during Shōtoku's reign included:
Daijō-daijin", Dōkyō. [see above] ]
Udaijin", Kibi Makibi. [see above] ]
Dainagon", Fujiwara Matate. [see above] ]
Eras of Shōtoku's reign
The years of Shōtoku's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or "
nengō". [Titsingh, p. 78.]
* Brown, Delmer M. and Ichirō Ishida, eds. (1979). [
Jien, c. 1220] , " Gukanshō(The Future and the Past, a translation and study of the Gukanshō, an interpretative history of Japan written in 1219)." 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
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