Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Episode 148 – The Birth of the Samurai, Part 3


This week: the Taira family continue their rise to prominence, the Minamoto get stuck spinning their wheels for a few decades, and warrior violence makes its way to Kyoto.

All that, plus the hottest court gossip of the 1120s, this week.


Listen to the episode here.


Sansom, George B. A History of Japan to 1334.

McCullough, Hellen, trans. The Tale of the Heike.

Turnbull, Stephen. Pirates of the Far East.

Turnbull, Stephen. Samurai: World of the Warrior.

Varley, H. Paul. Warriors of Japan: As Portrayed in the War Tales.



Taira no Tadamori, whose clever leadership propelled the Taira to a central position at court. This illustration, like most of the other character sketches we have, comes from the late Edo Period; the exploits of the Taira were popular grist for the mill of pop culture.


Taira no Kiyomori as a young man. Get used to that face; you’ll be seeing a lot of it.


Minamoto no Yoshitomo, the renegade son of the Minamoto family head. Unlike most of his relatives, he backed the sitting Emperor Go-Shirakawa over the Retired Emperor Sutoku in the Hogen Rebellion.


Emperor Go-Shirakawa, who was lucky enough to get the support of Taira no Kiyomori in his dispute with his imperial relatives.


A screen showing the main (and only) battle of the Hogen Rebellion — Kiyomori’s suprise attack on Sutoku’s palace.


A detail shot of the screen above, providing a closer view of the way the fighting is being depicted.


Episode 147 – The Birth of the Samurai, Part 2


Episode 149 – The Birth of the Samurai, Part 4

1 Comment

  1. Dan Bensky

    Another excellent series – but the title should be “Birth” not “Fall.”

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