Emperor Temmu of Japan

From Academic Kids

Emperor Temmu (天武天皇) was the 40th imperial ruler of Japan. He ruled from 672 until his death in 686. He was the youngest son of the Emperor Jomei and the Empress Saimei, and the younger brother of the Emperor Tenji. His name at birth was Prince Ōama. He was succeeded by the Empress Jito, who was both his niece and his wife.

Genealogy

Under the reign of his elder brother Emperor Tenji, Temmu was forced to marry several of Tenji's daughters because Tenji thought those marriages would help to strengthen political ties between the two brothers. The nieces he married included Princess Unonosarara, today known as the Empress Jito, and Princess Ōta. Temmu also had other consorts whose fathers were influential courtiers.

Temmu had many children, including his crown prince Kusakabe by Princess Unonosarara, Prince Otsu by Princess Ōta (whose father also was Tenji), and Prince Toneri, the editor of Nihonshoki and father of the Emperor Junnin. Through Prince Kusakabe, Temmu had two emperors and two empresses among his descendents. The Empress Shotoku was the last of these imperial rulers from his lineage.

Life

The first and only document on his life was Nihonshoki. However, it was edited by his son, Prince Toneri, and the work was written during the reign of his wife and children, causing one to suspect its accuracy and impartiality.

His father died while he was young, and he grew up mainly under the guidance of the Empress Saimei. He was not expected to gain the throne, because his brother Tenji was the crown prince of their mother, the reigning empress.

After Tenji ascended to the throne, Temmu was appointed to be the crown prince. This was because Tenji had no appropriate heir among his sons at that time due to the fact that none of their mothers were highly ranked enough to give the substantial political support needed to help their son become a future emperor. Tenji was suspicious that Temmu might be so ambitious as to attempt to take the throne, and felt necessity to strengthen his allegiance through marriage.

In his old age, Tenji had a son, Prince Otomo, by a lower ranked consort. Since Otomo had weak political support from his maternal side, the general wisdom of the time held that it was not a good idea for him to ascend to the throne, yet Tenji was obsessed with the idea. In 671 Temmu felt himself to be in danger and volunteered to resign the office of crown prince to become a monk. He moved to the mountains in Yoshino, Yamato province (now in Yoshino, Nara), officially for reasons of seclusion. He took with him his sons and his wife, Princess Unonosarara, a daughter of Tenji. However, he left all his other consorts at the capital Omikyo in Omi province (today in Otsu, Shiga).

It was only a year until Tenji died and Prince Otomo ascended to the throne (in 672) as the Emperor Kobun. Temmu assembled an army and marched from Yoshino to the east, to attack Omikyo in a counterclockwise movement. They marched through Yamato, Iga and Mino provinces to threaten Omikyo in the adjacent province. The army of Temmu and the army of the young Emperor Kobun fought in the northwestern part of Mino (nowadays Sekigahara, Gifu). Temmu's army won and Kobun committed suicide.

In 673 Temmu moved the capital back to Yamato province, naming his new capital Asukakiyomihara, and there he ascended to the throne. He elevated Unonosarara to be empress. He reigned from this capital until his death in 686.

Politics

In Nihonshoki Temmu is described as a great innovator, but the neutrality of those descriptions is doubtful since the work was written under the imperial control of his descendents.

He strengthened the power of the emperor and appointed his son to the highest offices of his government, reducing the traditional influence of powerful clans such as the Otomo and Soga clans. He renewed the system of kabane, the hereditary titles of duty and rank, but with alterations, including obsoleting some earlier titles. Omi and Muraji, the highest kabane in the earlier period, were reduced in value in the new hierarchy, which consisted of eight kinds of kabane. Each clan received a new kabane according to their closeness to the imperial bloodline and their loyalty to the Emperor Temmu.

Temmu attempted to keep a power balance between his sons. Once he traveled to Yoshino together with his sons, and there had them swear to cooperate and not to war between themselves. This turned out to be ineffective; one of his sons, Prince Otsu, would later be executed due to treachery after the death of Temmu.

His foreign policy favored the Korean kingdom Silla, which took over the entire Korean peninsula in 676. After the unification by Silla, Temmu decided to break diplomatic relations with the Tang dynasty of China to keep on good terms with Silla.

He utilized religious structures to increase the imperial throne's authority. During his reign there was increased emphasis on the tie between the imperial household and the Ise Shrine (which was dedicated to the ancestor goddess of emperors, Amaterasu), and several festivals were financed from the national budget. He also showed favor to Buddhism and built several large temples and monasteries. On the other hand, all Buddhist priests, monks and nuns were controlled by the state, and according to the law, no one was allowed to become a monk without state permission. This was aimed at preventing cults and stopping farmers from turning into priests.


Preceded by:
Kōbun
Emperor of Japan
672-686
Succeeded by:
Jitō

Template:End boxde:Temmu he:טמו it:Temmu imperatore del Giappone ja:天武天皇 zh-cn:天武天皇

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