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The Samurai Warrior in History

Part 3

The Fall of the Kamakura

The Kamakura, established by the Samurai clan Minamoto, were ruling much of Japan in 1268, when they faced a threat from outside the country in the form of the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan, grandson of the notorious Genghis Khan.

Kulai Khan, the ruler of Yuan China, demanded that the ruling Kamakura pay tribute to him. The Kamakura refused. So, in 1274 the fierce hordes of Mongols invaded Japan with a fleet of 600 ships. Nature intervened in the form of a typhoon which wiped out the Kublai Khan’s armada of ships. When Kublai Khan staged another invasion in 1281, the second fleet of ships met the same fate as the first and was destroyed by a typhoon.

In spite of this stupendous good luck and assistance from Mother Nature, the Kamakura paid dearly for the Mongol attacks. As the Kamakura were unable to offer land or wealth to the samurai who defended the country, the current emperor challenged the weakened Shogun in 1318. This emperor, Go-Daigo, was exiled but came back and managed to overthrow the ruling Shogunate in 1333.

However, this Kemmu Restoration of imperial power was only destined to last for a short three years.

In 1336, Samurai rule was reinstituted by the Ashikaga Shogunate, under Ashikaga Takauji. This rule, though, was considerably weaker than the former Kamakura had been, and regional constables known as "daimyo" gained much power and began meddling in the Shogunate’s succession.

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