Gempei War

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Genpei war

The Genpei War or the Gempei Battle , ( Japanese 源 平 合 戦 , Genpei no kassen also 治 承 ・ 寿 永 の 乱 , Jishō-Juei no Ran ) lasted from 1180 to 1185 and was a clash in the struggle for rule in Japan . Participants were the respected samurai families of the Minamoto ( , also 源氏 , Gen ji ) and Taira ( , also 平 家 , Hei ke ). The name Genpei War comes from the Sino-Japanese reading of the two family names and can therefore be translated as Minamoto Taira War . The alternative name Jishō-Juei no Ran ("Jishō-Juei unrest") names the beginning and end era over which the war extended: Jishō (1177-1181) and Juei (1182-1184).


Scene of the Genpei War (1180–1185). Kanō Motonobu (1476–1569), Muromachi period (1336 and 1573).

Towards the end of the Heian period , the Taira and Minamoto families carried out police and military duties in the broadest sense for the government in Heiankyō . However, this government was already divided and weakened by the middle of the 12th century, it was divided into the incumbent emperors and their rulers, who came from the Fujiwara family, and the opposing governments of the abdicated emperors ( Insei ). This unstable situation led to a shift in power to the military. The conflict began in 1156. The abdicated Emperor Sutoku and the ruling Emperor Go-Shirakawa had significant differences that led to a military conflict. In this conflict, the Taira under Taira no Kiyomori supported the incumbent emperor and won. The Minamoto were on the losing side, their chief Minamoto no Tameyoshi was executed. This development sidelined the Minamoto. Dissatisfied with this situation, they conspired against Taira no Kiyomori, lost again and in 1160 Minamoto no Yoshitomo , their leader, was killed. The Taira had taken power in Japan, both through contacts at court and through military force. Kiyomori put his grandson Antoku on the throne and became regent. His coercive measures led in 1180 to another conspiracy under Minamoto no Yorimasa and Prince Mochihito , which he militarily defeated in the First Battle of Uji . This battle is considered the first of the Genpei War.

Far from the courtyard, Minamoto no Yoritomo waited for his time. He had survived the vengeance of the Taira as a child in 1160 and was now fighting.

The war

The five-year conflict began in the Kantō plain , in which Yoritomo marched from the Izu province . In 1183 Yoritomo had succeeded in occupying the Kanto plain and central and western Japan. The taira had their backs to the sea on the Japanese inland sea. Yoritomo's relative Yoshinaka occupied Heiankyō. Yoritomo feared this successful general and sent an army against him under his brother Minamoto no Yoshitsune . Yoshitsune destroyed Yoshinaka and his troops. As Yoritomo's new general, he marched against the Taira, drove them into the sea and defeated them in the sea ​​battle of Dan-no-ura (1185). Japan belonged to the Minamoto.

Battles of the Genpei War

Battle sites of the Genpei War

Political Consequences

After five years of war, Japan was firmly in the hands of the Minamoto. Although they had initially only marched against the rule of Taira no Kiyomori, they now had the entire country under their control. From this state of occupation, the Kamakura shogunate developed . This maintained a military occupation throughout its existence and called its government apparatus in memory of the camps the tent government ( Bakufu ).

The genpei war in the media

The Genpei War is an important piece of Japanese history; it has roughly the same status as the settlement of the West in the USA . The fighting is a template for many modern samurai films and manga . But the well-known Heike Monogatari was already concerned with the war in Japan's past . The title means stories from the Heike and tells of the rise and fall of the family. Several pieces by and Kabuki address the adventures of Minamoto no Yoshitsune .

The Latvian folk metal band Yomi tells of the Genpei war in their concept album Genpei , which was released in 2016 .


  • Wolfgang Schwentker : The Samurai. 3rd revised edition. Beck, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-47988-5 ( Beck'sche series. C.-H.-Beck-Wissen 2188).
  • Richard Storry, Werner Forman : The Way of the Samurai. Orbis Publishing, London 1978 ( Echoes of the ancient World ), (German: Die Samurai. Ritter des fernen Ostens. Atlantis-Verlag, Luzern et al. 1986, ISBN 3-7611-0683-1 ( Atlantis. Alte Kulturen )).
  • Nobuko Albery: The House of Kanze. Simon and Schuster, New York NY 1985, ISBN 0-671-60520-8 (German: Das Haus Kanzē. Droemer Knaur, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-426-19204-7 ).

Web links

Commons : Genpei War  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Kostas: Get to know Yomi., December 6, 2018, accessed December 20, 2018 .