The Samurai Warrior in History
Rise of the Samurai Rule:
In 1156, when the Emperor Toba died without a clear successor, it was a mortal blow to the power of the imperial line of Japan. The emperor’s sons battled for control in a civil war known as the Hogen Rebellion. Both lost, which signaled the end of the imperial office, which was stripped of all power.
It was during this civil war, the Hogen Rebellion, that the Samurai rose to power, mainly the Minamoto and Taira clans. These two Samurai clans later fought against each other for power during the Heiji Rebellion of 1160. The Taira clan emerged victorious in this conflict, and went on to establish the first government led by Samurai with an emperor as a mere figurehead.
The Samurai clan Minamoto was banished from Kyoto, the capital.
The Minamoto clan, though, didn’t settle for staying defeated, and the two clans fought again in the Genpei War that lasted from 1180-1185. This time, the Minamoto clan were the victors.
The Kamakura Shogunate, which was established by the Minamoto, held power and ruled most of the country until 1333, although they never managed to conquer the northern or western areas of Japan. From time to time, the Shoguns dealt with resistance from other Samurai clans.
It was also during this period that the ruling clan of Samurai dealt with a fearsome enemy from outside Japan---the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan, who was the grandson of the infamous Ghengis Khan.