Minamoto no Noriyori

Minamoto no Noriyori

Minamoto no Noriyori (源範頼, 1156-1193) was a samurai and general of the Heian and Kamakura periods of Japanese history. He was the ninth son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo and the half-brother of Minamoto no Yoritomo and Minamoto no Yoshitsune by whose side he fought in the Gempei War.

He and his two half-brothers, all three of them still children in 1160, were spared during the massacres that followed the death of their father during the Heiji rebellion.

Minamoto no Noriyori Biography

After being spared and exiled by Taira no Kiyomori in 1160, he disappeared completely from the chronicles until 1180, when he joined his brother Yoritomo in Kamakura at the beginning of the Gempei war.

From 1184, four years after the beginning of the war, he was sent to fight by Yoritomo, and made his way to the Taira fortresses of Shikoku.

After the rebellion of his cousin Minamoto no Yoshinaka, he participates, under the orders of Yoshitsune, in the fights against him [Who?], first on February 19, 1184 at the second battle of Uji, then on February 21 at the battle of Awazu, where Yoshinaka is killed.

He then played a central role in the battle of Ichi-no-Tani against the Taira on March 18. The war had a break of about six months, during which Noriyori returned to Kyoto.

Noriyori was again sent on an expedition in October 1184 to secure by land the provinces of the Chūgoku region, Taira territory par excellence, before going to Kyūshū.

On October 8, he set out with troops fresh from the east and, upon reaching Harima, was informed of Taira activity in the port of Kojima, where he took the victory, the Taira fleeing by sea out of reach of his horsemen.

However, trying to push further, he encountered difficulties, facing a lack of resources and the fact that the Inland Sea was controlled by his enemies.

In January 1185, he wrote to his brother in Kamakura, and was told that supplies were on the way but that the Taira were watching the country, and therefore any deliveries should be made with caution.

Having arrived at the Shimonoseki Strait and still without ships, Noriyori found himself stranded. He finally managed to procure rice, other miscellaneous resources, and a handful of war junks from a magnate in Suō province.

He then travels to Kyūshū, according to plan, and remains there, playing no part in the decisive naval battle of Dan-no-ura.

After the end of the Gempei War, Noriyori returns to Kamakura, where he is rewarded for his services by Yoritomo.

However, there is soon dissension between Yoritomo and Yoshitsune, the latter eventually being declared an outlaw and fleeing, and Yoritomo orders Noriyori to go and arrest their brother. After trying in vain to dissuade Yoritomo, Noriyori decides to simply disobey and ignore the order.

In May 1193, while Yoritomo was leading a great hunt on Mount Fuji, an incident occurred in which two brothers belonging to the Soga clan killed Suketune Kudo, an enemy of their father.

Rumors then spread that Yoritomo had been killed, and while Yoritomo's wife, Masako Hōjō, is concerned, Noriyori assures her that even in Yoritomo's absence, he would still be there for her and the clan.

When reported to him, these words sow doubt in Yoritomo's mind, and he exiles his brother to the province of Izu. There, he is soon attacked and killed by Yoritomo's warriors.