Sutoku was a grandson of Fujiwara no Kinzane. He took the throne in 1123 following the abdication of his father, Emperor Toba. Fujiwara no Tadamichi served as regent throughout Sutoku's reign, and would continue to do so throughout the reign of Sutoku's successor, his half-brother Emperor Konoe.
Sutoku retired in favor of his half-brother in 1141, but attempted to retain considerable power as other Retired Emperors had done since the time of his great-grandfather Retired Emperor Shirakawa. The resulting tensions between Sutoku and Konoe's successor Emperor Go-Shirakawa erupted into violent conflict in 1156, an event known as the Hôgen Rebellion. Prominent leaders of the Minamoto and Taira clans fought on both sides of the conflict, which ultimately ended in victory for Go-Shirakawa's side, and the exile of Sutoku to Sanuki province on Shikoku.
Kotohira Shrine on Shikoku is dedicated in part to the spirit of Emperor Sutoku. His spirit also takes the form of a tengu in a number of legends and tales, such as in Ueda Akinari's Ugetsu monogatari.
|Emperor of Japan
- Evelyn Rawski, Early Modern China and Northeast Asia: Cross-Border Perspectives, Cambridge University Press (2015), 156.
- Teruko Craig (trans.). Musui's Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai. University of Arizona Press (1988), 162.