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Minamoto no Yoritomo

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MinamotoYoritomo-NikkoToshogu.jpg
Statue of Minamoto no Yoritomo at Nikko Toshogu; he is depicted wearing court dress typical of the Heian period. He wears a stiff eboshi (court cap) and has a quiver of arrows slung behind him.

Minamoto no Yoritomo 源頼朝 (May 9 1147 - February 9, 1199) was the founder and first shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate of Japan, from 1192 to 1199.

Son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo, Yoritomo was banished by Taira no Kiyomori to Hirogakojima of Izu province (present day Shizuoka prefecture) after the Heiji Rebellion in 1159. Later, he developed relations with the samurai families of the area and married Hojo Masako of the small and mostly unknown Hojo family.

In 1180, Prince Mochihito appealed to the Minamoto family throughout Japan to rise up against Taira no Kiyomori and the Taira family that had usurped the power of the emperor. Yoritomo, based in Kamakura, and his cousins based throughout Japan raised armies to combat the Taira, gathering support from families who had a grudge with the Taira, or a historical obligation to the Minamoto. The ensuing battles between the Minamoto and Taira would come to be known as the Genpei War.

Yoritomo was defeated at Ishibashiyama in his first major battle, but in the end he triumphed over his rival cousins, who sought to steal from him control of the clan, and over the Taira, who suffered a terrible defeat at the Battle of Dan-no-ura in 1185. Yoritomo thus established the supremacy of the warrior samurai caste and the first bakufu (shogunate) at Kamakura, beginning the feudal age in Japan which lasted until the mid 19th century.

Yoritomo was granted the title of shogun (Sei-I-Tai-Shogun, i.e., "Barbarian-quelling Great General") in 1192, which was eventually passed to his oldest son Yoriie in 1202.


Preceded by:
(none)
Kamakura Shogun
1192-1199
Succeeded by:
Minamoto no Yoriie

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