February 28, 2019/ 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

USC Social Sciences Building Room 250

USC: Revenge, Murder, and Political Schemers in Early Medieval Japan

When the third shogun, Minamoto no Sanetomo, was murdered by his own nephew in 1219, many believed it to be an isolated act brought on by the crazed nephew's desire for vengeance. But the assassination had profound consequences for Japan's first warrior government, the Kamakura shogunate (1185-1333). It brought an end to the direct line of Minamoto shoguns and created a crisis in leadership that encouraged the imperial court in Kyoto to declare war on Kamakura just two years later. Was Sanetomo’s murder a simple case of revenge, or was his nephew manipulated by those seeking a shift in the balance of power? By carefully analyzing key primary sources from the thirteenth century, this lecture reassesses the motivations of key figures and highlights the fragility of warrior government as it searched for legitimacy in its first few decades.

About the Speaker:

Ethan Segal is Associate Professor of History and Chair of the Japan Council at Michigan State University. He is the author of Coins, Trade, and the State: Economic Growth in Early Medieval Japan (Harvard, 2011) as well as article and book chapters, including most recently “Teaching Japanese Estates: Old Challenges and New Opportunities” in Land, Power, and the Sacred: The Estate System in Medieval Japan (Hawaii, 2018).

Sponsored by the Project for Premodern Japanese Studies, USC.