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Lecture 3

History 2605E Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Amitābha, Enryaku-Ji, Shingon Buddhism

Course Code
HIS 2605E
Carl Young

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From Nara to Heian
- Nara only remains capital for around 80 years
- Nara temples become increasingly wealthy through land grants
- Compete with aristocratic families for influence in court
- Emperor Kanmu along with the Fujiwara family decide to transfer the capital to cut down on
influence of Nara Buddhist clergy
Heian (from 794)
- Capital transferred here in 794
- Also based on Changan city plan
- Many palaces and imposing temples
- Later renamed Kyoto
- Would remain imperial capital until 1868
The Heian State
- Cone capital established in Heian, central state gained increasing control
- Competition between great families over titles and offices
- Structure would endure until 1868, although realities would change
- Centred on the Emperor
- Actual power held by great families
- Council of State, Eight Ministries, and Office of Deities
- State rituals based on Tang models
- Sixty-six provinces
- State offices increasingly hereditary
- Peasants paid taxes in grain, textiles, and labour
Class Structure
- Highly stratified
- No examination system for civil service
- Confucian schools for sons of aristocrats
- Society divided into court aristocrats, local elites, and commoners who farmed land guaranteed
by the state
The Fujiwara Family
- Dominant aristocratic family in the imperial court
- Cemented by providing consorts to the emperors
- Sessho (regent to a child emperor)
- Kanpaku (regent to an adult emperor)
- Fujiwara no Michinaga (966-1027)
The Emperors
- Burdensome ceremonial obligations
- Led to reduced political power
- Arbiters between families
- Retired emperors
- First started by Fujiwara family to gain influence over young rulers
- Later, retured emperors tried to increase imperial family’s private land holdings
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