How Japanese Royals Kept Their Blood Pure | History of Japan 29

How Japanese Royals Kept Their Blood Pure | History of Japan 29

Got a quiz question for ya. In early Japan, when an emperor died, who
was next in line to the throne? If you guessed the emperor’s eldest son,
good guess, but it’s wrong. Your punishment? You have to write “I love this video”
in the comments. Sorry, I didn’t make the rules. Upon an emperor’s death, it was not automatic
that the throne passed to his eldest son. Japan did not have any official rules of succession
until the modern age. The emperor was free to name a crown prince,
an heir, who ascended after the emperor died. And he could pick among any member of the
Imperial Family, his son, grandson, brother, whoever. Having no well-defined rules caused all kinds
of shenanigans when an emperor died. If they had an official rule that the emperor’s
eldest son succeeded him, then it would’ve been clear. Of course you would’ve still had the occasional
murder of the eldest son by his brothers, that’s a given. But in Japan’s case, the field of candidates
was wider, allowing for more power struggles. The Japanese recognized this problem, of course,
but instead of creating an official line of succession and be done with it, different
eras dealt with the issue in different ways. The Nara Period was ruled by what some historians
have called the Tenmu Dynasty, when the descendants of Emperor Tenmu sat the throne. The Tenmu Dynasty had their own solutions
to the succession problem, which we’ll cover another time. Right now, let’s talk about what the Japanese
did before. Prior to Emperor Tenmu’s reign, they reduced
the number of possible candidates for crown prince. Fewer candidates, fewer power struggles. How did they do this? By keeping the bloodline pure. Yes, it involved incest. It was simple, just knock up your half sister. Don’t quote that out of context in the comments,
you bastards. I know what you guys write, I see you. If you don’t know the difference between
step siblings and half siblings, it’s easy. Step siblings, not related. Half siblings, related. Step siblings share no biological parents. Half siblings share one biological parent. And I hope there’s never a time in your
life when this little piece of knowledge becomes significant. For further clarification on step siblings
and half siblings, see the internet. So the system they had before Tenmu was something
called “double royalty,” and it worked like this. I hope you’re watching the screen. And sober. If not, just give up now. So let’s say you have Emperor Bob…bunaga. One of the perks of being emperor was that
they had a bunch of consorts, or concubines. Exactly like being a YouTuber. But they usually had one main consort. She was the most important because her son
became the crown prince, the next emperor. We’ll call him Jon…mu. Now Emperor Jonmu also needed a main consort. Question is, how did he choose who got the
position? Well, this was how influential clans got their
feet in the door of the Imperial House. Through schemings and dealings, and the occasional
murder, a strong clan leader would offer his daughter as consort to Emperor Bobunaga. Yeah, I know, the women’s rights movement
was still in its infancy at this point. The daughter of THIS union, Emperor Jonmu’s
half sister as you can see, became Jonmu’s main consort. Their son became the next emperor, Emperor
Max…amune. This is called double royalty because Emperor
Maxamune had royal blood from both parents. Remember that this system was not law or anything,
so there were deviations, but it became the norm. It protected the Imperial Family from outside
influence because the consort from an outsider clan could not give birth to a future emperor. At the most, she could only give birth to
the next emperor’s main consort. When the Soga clan dominated the Japanese
court in the Asuka Period, they did it within this system. Their daughters were consorts to many emperors. These unions could not result in future emperors,
but they persisted. They just kept marrying into the Imperial
Family, keeping their influence fresh. Women were invaluable to the top clans. Being consorts to the emperor meant they pierced
his inner circle. They became the eyes and ears, and mouths,
for their clans. Now were there problems with this system? Sure, like when the main consort did not produce
a son, or the emperor died before producing a son. That meant the field of candidates opened
up and people getting whacked. When Tenmu became emperor, this model was
chucked out the window. Tenmu seized the throne through the Jinshin
War, a civil war between Tenmu and Prince Otomo. Tenmu was the brother of the previous emperor,
Emperor Tenji, so he obviously didn’t fit the double-royal son model. Although, Prince Otomo didn’t fit the model
either. He was Tenji’s son, but his mother was not
Tenji’s main consort. In any case, after Tenmu took power, the Fujiwara
clan decided they didn’t like the system. They were an up-and-coming clan, but they
wanted to be an already-arrived clan, and some nonsense tradition to protect the Imperial
House and prevent wars and disorder wasn’t gonna stop them. Hey guys, thanks for watching. Shoutout to two new patrons this week, Sam
Fieldman, helloooo Mr. Fieldman, and Jenova_83, we got ourselves a Final Fantasy fan here. And then, we gained a third emperor this week,
Yakaru Dezaki! Thank you sooo much, you are so generous. Looks like now we have a ruling triumvirate
here, hopefully they rule peacefully and don’t backstab each other. Hey if you like history and want to make the
channel sustainable, go to my Patreon link below and consider donating a few bucks. Much love, guys. Now go out there and spread the knowledge.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. What do you think of the double royalty system?


    (you get a history blog and posts about random stuff)

  2. Hi, I'm from Alabama and I never knew I was double royal, I guess that makes my kids quadruple royal ?????

  3. what the hell dude "knock up your half sister to keep the bloodline pure" what kind of nonsense is this shit

    it's only pure blood if it's direct siblings

  4. at this point, the Fujiwara clan looks like the shady main villain of Japan's history…
    Chika, i'm watching you

  5. I guessed who is like and has power. Right be choice or blood who is after a ruler is power be blood, connections and age. If not liked or bad place take England 1st born forget King wants someone else or different wife or son. Mix it up, bring on choas. So answer: Choas

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