Emperor Kōnin

Emperor Kōnin

Kōnin Tennō (光仁天皇) (November 18, 709 - January 11, 782) was the 49th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.

He reigned from 770 to 781. Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (imina) was Imperial Prince Shirakabe (Shirakabe-shinnō).

Emperor Kōnin Genealogy

He was the son of Imperial Prince Shiki no Miko and his wife Ki no Tochihime. Grandson of Tenji Tennō. Initially, he was not in the line of succession, but Tenmu Tennō and his branch offered him the throne.

He married Imperial Princess Ikami, a daughter of Shōmu Tennō, and having a daughter and a son. Emperor Kōnin had five empresses and seven children.

Biography of Emperor Kōnin

After his sister-in-law, Empress Shōtoku (or Empress Kōken) died in 770, Imperial Prince Shirakabe was named her heir;

the reason was due to high courtiers clamoring to the empress on her deathbed that the prince could be her heir as he was considered a gentle man with no political ambitions.

He assumed the throne at the age of 60 with the name Emperor Kōnin.

During his reign, he attempted to rebuild the financial and administrative organizations of the state, which had been corrupted during the reign of Empress Shōtoku.

Within months, Princess Ikami would be promoted to empress and her son to Crown Prince. However, shortly thereafter she was accused of having bewitched her husband, Emperor Kōnin.

Currently, it is believed that this accusation was a revenge in order to deprive her son of the throne. Thus, the princess was removed from the rank of consort and died shortly thereafter of an illness, according to official records.

After the death of the princess, Prince Yamabe, son of the emperor and Takano no Niigasa was named her heir. According to the Shoku Nihongi, Takano no Niigasa, was a descendant of King Muryeong of Baekje.

In 781, the emperor abdicated at the age of 71 in favor of his son, Emperor Kanmu. He would pass away a few months later, in 782.

Emperor Kōnin Kugyō

Kugyō (公卿) is the collective term for the most powerful personages directly linked to the service of the emperor in pre-Meiji Restoration Japan.

They were hereditary courtiers whose experience and prestige had brought them to the top of the courtly ladder.

  • Sadaijin: Fujiwara no Nagate (714 - 771)
  • Sadaijin: Fujiwara no Uona (721 - 783)
  • Udaijin: Ōnakatomi Kiyomaro (702 - 788)
  • Nadaijin: Fujiwara no Yoshitsugu (716 - 777)
  • Dainagon: Fujiwara no Momokawa (732 - 779)

Emperor Kōnin Eras

  • Hōki (770 - 781)