Minamoto Yoritomo


Minamoto Yoritomo

biographical name

(born 1147, Japan—died Feb. 9, 1199, Kamakura) Founder of the Kamakura shogunate, or bakufu. A member of the Minamoto warrior clan, Yoritomo was banished in his youth as a consequence of his father's revolt against the reigning Taira family. In exile Yoritomo found support for his cause in Hojo Tokimasa (see Hojo family), and in 1185 he defeated the Taira. In 1192 the cloistered emperor (see insei) granted him the title of shogun, which made him the supreme authority over all military forces in the country. He established his own governors (shugo) and stewards (jito) throughout Japan, thereby creating a governmental infrastructure in competition with, and gradually superseding, that of the imperial court. He was thus able to rule without actually overthrowing the emperor, a pattern that was to be emulated by future shogunates. See also Kamakura period; Gempei War.

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