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Emperor Ichijo

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  • Died: 1011/6/22
  • Reign: 986-1011
  • Japanese: 一条天皇 (Ichijou tennou)

Emperor Ichijô was an emperor of the Heian period, perhaps most well-known as being the reigning emperor during the composition of the Tale of Genji and Murasaki nikki by Murasaki Shikibu, and of The Pillow Book by Sei Shônagon. It was in Ichijô's court that much of the events related or referenced in these works took place.

A son of Emperor En'yû, born in the Sanjô Palace and largely raised there by his grandfather Fujiwara no Kaneie, he succeeded to the throne upon the abdication of his uncle Emperor Kazan on 986/6/23. His accession ceremony was held on 7/22 that year. Ichijô's grandfather Fujiwara no Kaneie served as sesshô (regent for an emperor in his minority) from 986 until 990, and very briefly as kanpaku (regent for an adult emperor) following Ichijô's genpuku (coming of age) that year at the age of ten. Later that same year (990), Fujiwara no Michitaka took over as regent, holding the title of sesshô until 993 and then that of kanpaku until 995. Finally, Fujiwara no Michikane served as kanpaku briefly in 995.

He took Fujiwara no Akiko, a daughter of Fujiwara no Michinaga, as his First Empress; she came to be known as Empress Shôshi. In 1000, he promoted Fujiwara no Sadako, also known as Empress Teishi, to First Empress, demoting Shôshi to Second Empress and creating considerable factional tension within the palace. As Murasaki Shikibu served Shôshi and Sei Shônagon served Teishi, this event contributed to rivalries between the two women which appear in their writings.

Ichijô abdicated the throne on 1011/6/13 in favor of his cousin, a son of Emperor Reizei, who took the throne as Emperor Sanjô. Ichijô then formally took the tonsure and entered retirement on 6/19, but died several days later on 1011/6/22. One of his sons would later succeed Emperor Sanjô as Emperor Go-Ichijô.

Preceded by
Emperor Kazan
Emperor of Japan
986-1011
Succeeded by
Emperor Sanjô

References

  • Evelyn Rawski, Early Modern China and Northeast Asia: Cross-Border Perspectives, Cambridge University Press (2015), 155.
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