- Empress Kōgyoku
name = Empress Kōgyoku
title =Empress of Japan
reign =642 - 645, 655 - 661
father =Prince Chinu
mother =Princess Kibitsu-hime
date of birth =594
place of birth =
date of death =the 24th Day of the 7th Month of the 7th Year of Saimei's reign (661)
place of death =Asakura no "Miya"
place of burial=Ochi-no-Okanoe no "Misasagi"|
Empress Kōgyoku (皇極天皇 "Kōgyoku-tennō"), also Empress Saimei (斉明天皇 "Saimei-tennō") (594–
August 24, 661 August 24, 661corresponds to the Twenty-fourth Day of the Seventh Month of 661 (shinyū) of the traditional lunisolar calendarused in Japan until 1873.] ) was the 35th and 37th sovereign empress of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. She was the second woman to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne. [The sole empress who reigned before Kōgyoku was Suiko"-tennō"; and the women sovereigns reigning after Kōgyoku/Saimei were (a) Jitō, (b) Gemmei, (c) Genshō, (d) Kōken/Shōtoku, (e) Meishō, and (f) Go-Sakuramachi.] .From February 18, 642 February 18, 642corresponds to the Fifteenth Day of the First Month of 642 (jin'in).] she ruled as Kōgyoku, but abdicated after the assassination of Soga no Irukaand gave up the throne to her brother Emperor Kōtokuon July 12, 645. July 12, 645corresponds to the Fourteenth Day of the Sixth Month of 645 (isshi).] After Kōtoku died on November 24, 654, November 24, 654corresponds to the Tenth Day of the Tenth Month of 654 (kōin).] she re-acceded to the throne as Empress Saimei on February 14, 655, February 14, 655corresponds to the Third Day of the First Month of 655 (itsubō).] and ruled under that name until her death in 661. The two reigns of this powerful woman spanned the years from 642 through 661. [Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). "Annales des empereurs du Japon," pp. 43-54; Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). "Gokanshō," p. 265-267; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). "Jinnō Shōtōki." p. 130-134.]
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 Ame Toyo-takara ikashi-hi tarashi"-hime". [Ashton, William. (2005). "Nihongi," p. 171.]
She was a great-granddaughter of
Emperor Bidatsu. [Brown, p. 265.] Her birth name was 'Princess Takara' (宝皇女).
She was the wife and Empress Consort of
Emperor Jomei. They had three children: Prince Naka no Ōe ( Emperor Tenji), Prince Ōama ( Emperor Temmu), and Princess Hashihito (Empress Consort of Emperor Kōtoku).
Events in Kōgyoku's life
During her first reign the
Soga clanseized power. Her son Naka no Ōe planned a coup d'état and slew Soga no Irukaat the court in front of her throne. The Empress, shocked by this incident, abdicated the throne.
Empress Kōgyoku reigned for four 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.
Kōgyoku's reign: a non"-nengō" period
The years of Kōgyoku's reign are not linked by scholars to any era or "nengō". [Titsingh, pp. 43-47.] The Taika era innovation of naming time periods -- "nengō" -- was yet to be initiated during her son's too-brief reign.
* See Japanese era name -- "Non-nengo periods"
In this context, Brown and Ishida's translation of "Gukanshō" offers an explanation about the years of Empress Jitō's reign which muddies a sense of easy clarity in the pre-Taiho time-frame: ::"The eras that fell in this reign were: (1) the remaining seven years of Shuchō [(686+7=692?)] ; and (2) Taika, which was four years long [695-698] . (The first year of this era was "kinoto-hitsuji"  .) ...In the third year of the Taka era  , Empress Jitō yielded the throne to the Crown Prince." [Brown, p. 270.] The years of Kōgyoku's reign are not more specifically identified by more than one era name or "
nengō" which was an innovation of her son's brief reign.Titsingh, pp. 43-54.]
Events in Saimei's life
After Emperor Kōtoku died, though Naka no Ōe was the crown prince, he had his mother reascend the throne, and remained as the crown prince under his mother. He, and not his mother, however, led the politics of Japan. In the fifth year of her second reign, Paekche in
Koreawas destroyed in 660. Japan assisted Paekche loyals to the attempt of retrieving former Paekche territory. Early in 661, Saimei started from the capital in Yamato provincein Honshūwith both an army and a navy and crossed the Inland Sea of Japanfrom east to west. The empress stayed in Ishiyu Temporary Palace in Iyo province, today Dōgo Onsen. In May she arrived at Asakura Palace in the north part of Tsukushi provincein Kyūshū, today a part of Fukuoka prefecture. The allied army of Japan and Paekche was prepared the war against Sillabut on July 24 (Japanese calendar), 661 she died in the Asakura Palace before the army departed to Korea. In October her body was brought from Kyūshū by sea to Port Naniwa-zu (today Osaka city). Her funeral ceremony was held in early November.
Empress Saimei rule for seven 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.
After her death, her son Naka no Ōe ascended to the throne in 663, after the battle against Silla and the
"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 Saimei's reign, this apex of the "
Sadaijin", Kose no Tokoda(巨勢徳太) (593-658), 649-658 Brown, p. 267.]
Udaijin" (not appointed)
* "Naishin"(内臣), Nakatomi no Kamako(中臣鎌子) (
Fujiwara no Kamatari, 藤原鎌足) (614-669), 645-669 [see above] ]
aimei's reign: a non"-nengō" period
The years of Saimei's reign are not linked by scholars to any era or "nengō". [see above] ] The Taika era innovation of naming time periods -- "nengō" -- languished until Mommu reasserted an imperial right by proclaiming the commencement of Taihō in 701.
* See Japanese era name -- "Non-nengo periods"
* Aston, William G. (2005). "Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A.D. 697." Tokyo:
Charles E. Tuttle Company. ISBN 0-804-83674-4
* 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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