Conjuring Court and Sovereign

Thomas Donald Conlan

in From Sovereign to Symbol

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199778102
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919079 | DOI:
Conjuring Court and Sovereign

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This chapter explains how the Sanbō’in monk Kenshun conjured an emperor and the regalia of office through Shingon ritual mimesis. Kenshun and his Hino brethren ensured that the Northern Court continued to function even though its emperors were absent. Unfettered by notions of precedent, or the court emphasis on nominalism, Kenshun helped create a “new Northern Court” whose authority did not hinge on possession of any objects at all. Because he concurrently served as a protector for both the court and the Ashikaga, he continued ritually blurring the boundaries of court and bakufu. He also used his influence to enhance Sanbō’in power and wealth and gain control over disparate temples and lineages of secret Shingon thought, effectively countering the early fourteenth century actions of Go-Uda. Kenshun also enforced the notion of loyal service to the Ashikaga and relied on three important Hachiman shrines in the capital to enhance Ashikaga claims of legitimacy.

Keywords: Kenshun; Hino; Northern Court; precedent; nominalism; legitimacy; Ashikaga

Chapter.  9506 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Buddhism

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