2018-03-19 The Rise and the Downfall of the “Take-over” Class
Under the ancient centralized government, certain amount of rice paddy field was allotted to an adult for cultivation during their life time . The allotment was conducted every 6 years since the end of the 7th century. Due to the public unrest, Emperor Kanmu (737-806) extended the allotment circle to 12 years to maintain the system. The last allotment was carried out by Emperor Daigo (885-930) in 902.
Through the 9th and 10th centuries, there emerged a “zuryo” (literally to take over) class among central middle-ranking noble families. Unlike central powerful clan members, who preferred to stay in Kyoto, they actually left Kyoto for their assignment provinces. The 11th century witnessed the golden age of the “take-over” class. Their power basis were gradually undermined by local powerful families, and, at the beginning of the 12 century, they began falling. Their power struggles against the central high-ranking powerful clans and the central powerful religious institutions were taken over by central middle-ranking military families, who succeeded in organizing local powerful families under them. We can guess what the “take-over” class's power struggles were like through a series of manor restriction ordinances.
On March 13, 902, the first manor restriction ordinance was issued by Emperor Daigo. He incorporated royal rice paddy fields which had been developed since his coronation in 897 into state-owned ones. He prohibited local people from donating their rice paddy fields to central powerful clans or central religious institutions, and also banned central powerful clans and central powerful religious institutions from illegally enclosing wilderness. The ordinance required manor owners to keep their official written certificates, and gave provincial officers authority to accept the application of newly developed manors, which strengthened provincial governments’ supervision over rice paddy fields in their provinces.