(Jap.). During the period of the Tendai school's ascendancy from the 10th to the early 17th centuries, it had extensive landholdings and influence with the aristocratic classes. In order to protect these interests, the school's headquarters on Mt. Hiei maintained a corps of men who, while ostensibly ordained as clergy, actually formed a small private army. At times the sōhei formed the largest fighting force in the capital, and the Tendai school deployed them to intimidate potential rival schools and teachers. The sōhei threat was a factor in the lives, strategies, and fortunes of virtually all of the new schools of Buddhism that broke off from Tendai during the Kamakura period.
Subjects: Buddhism — Military History.