Emperor Sanjō

Emperor of Japan

Reign 1011–1016
Coronation 1011
Predecessor Ichijō
Successor Go-Ichijō
Born February 5, 976
Heian Kyō (Kyōto)
Died June 5, 1017 (aged 41)
Sanjō In (三条院), Heian Kyō (Kyōto)
Burial Kitayama no misasagi (北山陵) (Kyoto)
Father Reizei
Mother Fujiwara no Chōshi

Emperor Sanjō (三条天皇 Sanjō-tennō, February 5, 976 – June 5, 1017) was the 67th emperor of Japan,[1] according to the traditional order of succession.[2]

Sanjō's reign spanned the years from 1011 through 1016.[3]

Traditional narrative

Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (imina)[4] was Iyasada-shinnō.[5] He was also known as Sukesada-shinnō,[6] and as Okisada-shinnō (居貞親王).[7]

Iyasada was the second son of Emperor Reizei.[6] He was the half-brother of Emperor Kazan, who was Reizei's first-born son.[8] Ieyasada's mother was Fujiwara no Chōshi (藤原超子) (?-982), who was the daughter of the sesshō, Fujiwara no Kaneie. Chōshi was posthumously elevated to the rank of empress mother (Zō-Kōtaigō, 贈皇太后).[9]

In ancient Japan, there were four noble clans, the Gempeitōkitsu (源平藤橘). One of these clans, the Minamoto clan (源氏)are also known as Genji, and of these, the Sanjō Genji (三条源氏) are descended from the 67th emperor Sanjō.

Events of Sanjō's life

After his mother died when he was seven, his maternal grandfather Fujiwara no Kaneie raised him at Kaneie's mansion.

Kaneie died in the early part of Ichijō's reign. His three uncles, sons of Kaneie, made their daughters consorts of Ichijo and each aimed to seize power as the grandfather of a future emperor. These courtiers therefore sought to exclude Okisada from the Imperial succession, though each of them married their daughter to him. Later Ichijō had children by Fujiwara no Kishi, the daughter of Fujiwara no Michinaga, and Michinaga expected his grandson to ascend to the throne as soon as possible. Michinaga became the kampaku (regent) of Japan during the reign of Ichijō and expected to hold this position in Sanjō's government as well.[15]

The actual site of Sanjō's grave is known.[1] This emperor is traditionally venerated at a memorial Shinto shrine (misasagi) at Kyoto.

The Imperial Household Agency designates this location as Sanjō's mausoleum. It is formally named Kitayama no misasagi.[19]

Michinaga gifted Atsuakira a status equal to the retired emperor, with the title of Ko-ichijo-in. Although no son of Sanjō ascended to the throne, a future emperor (Emperor Go-Sanjō) was child of Princess Teishi, Sanjō's daughter, and thus his blood remained in the imperial bloodline.


Kugyō (公卿) is a collective term for the very few most powerful men attached to the court of the Emperor of Japan in pre-Meiji eras. Even during those years in which the court's actual influence outside the palace walls was minimal, the hierarchic organization persisted.

In general, this elite group included only three to four men at a time. These were hereditary courtiers whose experience and background would have brought them to the pinnacle of a life's career. During Sanjō's reign, this apex of the Daijō-kan included:

Eras of Sanjō's reign

The years of Sanjō's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.[6]

Consorts and Children

Empress (Kōgō): Fujiwara no Seishi (藤原娍子) (972–1025), 1st daughter of Fujiwara no Naritoki (藤原済時)

Empress (Chūgū): Fujiwara no Kenshi (藤原妍子) (994–1027), 2nd daughter of Fujiwara no Michinaga

Nyōgo(crown princess): Fujiwara no Yasuko (藤原綏子) (974–1004), 3rd daughter of Fujiwara no Kaneie; adultery with Minamoto no Yorisada (son of Imperial Prince Tamehira)

Nyōgo(crown princess): Fujiwara no Genshi (藤原原子) (ca. 980–1002), 2nd daughter of Fujiwara no Michitaka

Nyōgo: Fujiwara no Seishi (藤原盛子), daughter of Fujiwara no Michinaga


Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom
  1. 1 2 Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 三条天皇 (67)
  2. Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 74.
  3. Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukanshō, p. 307; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, p. 195; Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, p. 154-155., p. 154, at Google Books
  4. Brown, pp. 264; prior to Emperor Jomei, the personal names of the emperors were very long and people did not generally use them. The number of characters in each name diminished after Jomei's reign.
  5. 1 2 Brown, p. 307; Varley, p. 195.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Titsingh, p. 154.
  7. Ponsonby-Fane, p. 8.
  8. Brown, pp. 300–307.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Brown, p. 307.
  10. Varley, p. 195.
  11. Titsingh, p. 154; Brown, p. 307; Varley, p. 44; a distinct act of senso is unrecognized prior to Emperor Tenji; and all sovereigns except Jitō, Yōzei, Go-Toba, and Fushimi have senso and sokui in the same year until the reign of Emperor Go-Murakami.
  12. Brown, p. 306.
  13. Titsingh, p. 155; Brown, p. 306.
  14. Brown, p. 308.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Titsingh, p. 155.
  16. Titsingh, p. 155; Brown, p. 307.
  17. Titsingh, p. 154; Brown, p. 307; Varley, p. 44.
  18. Brown, p. 310.
  19. Ponsonby-Fane, p. 421.


See also

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Ichijō
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Go-Ichijō
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