Emperor Go-Daigo of Japan

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Emperor Go-Daigo (後醍醐天皇) (November 26, 1288 - September 19, 1339) was the 96th Emperor of Japan. He reigned from March 29, 1318 to September 18, 1339 (with complications, see below). His personal name was Takaharu (尊治).



He was the 2nd son of the Daikakuji-tō Emperor Go-Uda.

  • First son: Imperial Prince Moriyoshi (or Morinaga) (護良親王)
  • Second son: Imperial Prince ?? (尊良親王)
  • Third son: Imperial Prince ?? (宗良親王)
  • Fourth son: Imperial Prince Tsuneyoshi (恒良親王)
  • Fifth son: Imperial Prince ?hito (法仁親王)
  • Sixth son: Imperial Prince Nariyoshi (or Narinaga) (成良親王)
  • Seventh son: Imperial Prince Noriyoshi (成良親王) (Emperor Go-Murakami)
  • Eleventh son: Imperial Prince Kaneyoshi (成良親王)


Emperor Go-Daigo's ideal was the Engi era (901-923) during the reign of Emperor Daigo, a period of direct Imperial Rule. An Emperor's posthumous name was normally chosen after his death, but Go-Daigo chose his personally during his lifetime, to share it with Daigo.


In 1318, upon the abdication of the Jimyōin-tō Emperor Hanazono (his second cousin), Go-Daigo became Emperor at the age of 29, in the prime of his life. In 1324, with the discovery of Go-Daigo's plans to overthrow the Kamakura Shogunate, the Rokuhara Tandai disposed of Go-Daigo's close associate Hino Suketomo in the Shōchū Incident.

In the Genkō Incident of 1331, Go-Daigo's plans were again discovered, this time by a betrayal by his close associate Yoshida Sadafusa. He quickly hid the Sacred Treasures in a secluded castle in Kasagiyama (the modern town of Kasagi, Sōraku district, Kyōto Prefecture) and raised an army, but the castle fell to the Bakufu's army the following year, and they enthroned Kōgon, exiling Go-Daigo to Oki Province (the Oki Islands in modern-day Shimane Prefecture), the same place that Emperor Go-Toba was exiled in 1198.

In 1333, Go-Daigo escaped from Oki with the help of Nawa Nagatoshi and his family, raising an army at Funagami Mountain in Hōki Province (the modern town of Kotoura in Tōhaku District, Tottori Prefecture). Ashikaga Takauji, who had been sent by the Bakufu to find and destroy this army, sided with the Emperor and captured the Rokuhara Tandai. Immediately following this, Nitta Yoshisada, who had raised an army in the East, destroyed the Hojo clan and captured the Bakufu.

Returning to Kyōto, Go-Daigo denied the throne to Kōgon and began the Kemmu Restoration. The Restoration was ostensibly a revival of the older ways, but, in fact, the Emperor had his eye set on an Imperial dictatorship like that of the Emperor of China. Impatient reforms, litigation over land rights, rewards, and the exclusion of the samurai from the political order caused much complaining, and his political order began to fall apart. In 1335, Ashikaga Takauji, who had travelled to Easern Japan without obtaining an Imperial edict in order to suppress the Nakasendai Rebellion, became disaffected with the Restoration. Go-Daigo ordered Nitta Yoshisada to track dow and destroy Ashikaga. Ashikaga defeated Nitta Yoshisada at the Battle of Takenoshita, Hakone. Kusunoki Masashige and Kitabatake Akiie, in communication with Kyoto, smashed the Ashikaga army. Takauji fled to Kyūshū, but the following year, after restructuring his army in Kyūshū, he again approached Kyōto. Kusunoki Masashige proposed a reconciliation with Ashikaga Takauji to the Emperor, but Go-Daigo rejected this. He ordered Masashige and Yoshisada to destroy Takauji. Kusunoki's army was defeated at the Battle of Minatogawa (湊川の戦い)

When Ashikaga's army entered Kyōto, Go-Daigo resisted, fleeing to Mount Hiei, but seeking reconciliation, he sent the Sacred Treasures to the Ashikaga side. Takauji enthroned the Jimyōin-tō Emperor Kōmyō, and officially began his shogunate with the enactment of the Kemmu Law Code.

Go-Daigo escaped from the capital, the Sacred Treasures that he had handed over to the Ashikaga being counterfeit, and set up the Southern Court among the mountains of Yoshino, beginning the Period of Northern and Southern Courts in which the Northern Dynasty in Kyōto and the Southern Dynasty in Yoshino faced off against each other.

Go-Daigo ordered Imperial Prince Kaneyoshi to Kyūshū and Nitta Yoshisada and Imperial Prince Tsuneyoshi to Hokuriku, and so forth, dispatching his sons all over, so that they could oppose the Northern Court.

In 1339, he died in Yoshino. Ashikaga Takauji constructed the Tenryuuji in Kyōto for his burial.

Eras during his reign

With 8 era changes, Emperor Go-Daigo is tied with Emperor Go-Hanazono for the most eras in a single reign.

(Northern Court)

Northern Court Rivals

Preceded by:
Emperor of Japan
Succeeded by:
Go-Murakami (Southern Court)
Kōgon (Northern Pretender)

Template:End boxde:Go-Daigo ja:後醍醐天皇 zh:后醍醐天皇


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