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Not to be confused with Emperor Heisei, the future posthumous name of the current reigning Emperor Akihito.
Emperor Heizei
51st Emperor of Japan
Reign The 17th Day of the 3rd Month of Enryaku 25 (806) - The 1st Day of the 4th Month of Daidō 4 (809)
Coronation The 18th Day of the 5th Month of Daidō 1 (806)
Born Hōki 5 (774)
Died The 7th Day of the 7th Month of Tenchō 1 (824)
Place of death Heijō-kyō (Nara)
Buried Yamamomo no Misasagi (Nara)
Predecessor Emperor Kammu
Successor Emperor Saga
Consort Fujiwara no Tarashiko/Obiko
Father Emperor Kammu
Mother Fujiwara no Otomuro

Emperor Heizei (平城天皇 Heizei-tennō or Heijō-tennō) (774-824) was the 51st emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign spanned the years from 806 through 809.[1]



Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (his imina)[2] was Ate-shinnō (Yasudo).[3]

He was the eldest son of the Emperor Kammu and his empress Fujiwara no Otomuro, who was the daughter of nadaijin Fujiwara Yoshitsugu.[4]

Heizei had three Empresses and seven Imperial sons and daughters.[5]

Events of Heizei's life

Before he ascended to the throne, his liaison with Fujiwara no Kusuko, the mother of his one consort, caused a scandal. Because of this scandal his father considered depriving him of the rank of crown prince.

  • Daidō 1, on the 17th day of the 3rd month (大同元年; 806): In the 25th year of Emperor Kammu's reign (桓武天皇25年), he died; and despite an ensuring dispute over who should follow her as sovereign, contemporary scholars then construed that the succession (‘‘senso’’) was received by a his son. Shortly thereafter, Emperor Heizei is said to have acceded to the throne (‘‘sokui’’).[6]

His title Heizei derived from the official name of the capital in Nara, Heizei Kyō. He was called often Nara no Mikado, the Emperor of Nara.

Heizei appointed Sakanoue no Tamuramaro (758-811) to lead a military expedition against the Emishi.[7] During Heizei's reign, Tamuramaro was also appointed Senior Commander of the Imperial Bodyguards of the Right.[8]

  • Daidō 4, in the 1st month 809: After a reign of four years, Heizei fell ill; and fearing that he would not survive, Heizei abdicated in favor of his younger brother, who would later come to be known as Emperor Saga.[8]
  • Daidō 4, on the 1st day of the 4th month 809: Emperor Saga is enthroned at age 24.[8]

After abdicating, he moved to Nara and planned to move the capital again from Kyoto to Nara. The Emperor Saga pretended to agree with him, but planned to ignore this idea and reduce the influence of the former emperor. In 810, he attempted rebellion in Nara with Kusuko, but was defeated. Kusuko committed suicide and Heizei became a Buddhist monk. His son, crown prince Takaoka, was deprived of his office and Saga appointed his own son to be the new crown prince.

  • Tenchō 1, on the 7th day of the 7th month (824): Heizei died at age 51, more than a decade after stepping down from the throne.[9]

Heizei's officially designated Imperial misasagi or tomb can be visited today in Nara City.[10]


Kugyō (公卿) is a collective term for the very few most powerful men attached to the court of the Emperor of Japan in pre-Meiji eras.[11]

In general, this elite group included only three to four men at a time. These were hereditary courtiers whose experience and background would have brought them to the pinnacle of a life's career. During Heizei's reign, this apex of the Daijō-kan included:

  • Sadaijin(not appointed)
  • Udaijin, Miwa-no-Oh ou Miwa-no-Ohkimi (神王), 798-806.[5]
  • Udaijin, Fujiwara no Uchimaro (藤原内麿), 806-812.[8]
  • Naidaijin
  • DainagonFujiwara no Otomo (藤原雄友), 806-807

Era of Heizei's reign

The years of Genshō's reign are encompassed within one era name or nengō.[12]

Consorts and Children

Empress (posthumous honor): Fujiwara no Tarashiko/Obiko (藤原帯子) (?-794), daughter of Fujiwara no Momokawa

Hi: Princess Asahara (朝原内親王) (779-817), daughter of Emperor Kammu

Hi: Princess Ōyake (大宅内親王) (?-849), daughter of Emperor Kammu

Crown Princess(died young?): A daughter of Fujiwara no Tadanushi

Court lady (Naishi-no-kami):Fujiwara no Kusuko (藤原薬子) (?-810), daughter of Fujiwara no Tanetsugu

Court lady: Fujii no Fujiko/Tōshi (葛井藤子), daughter of Fujii no Michiyori

  • Imperial Prince Abo (阿保親王) (792-842)

Court lady: Ise no Tsugiko (伊勢継子) (772-812), daughter of Ise no Ōna

  • Imperial Prince Takaoka (高丘親王) (799-881), the Crown Prince in 809(deposed in 810)
  • Imperial Prince Kose (巨勢親王) (?-882)
  • Imperial Princess Kamitsukeno (上毛野内親王) (?-842)
  • Imperial Princess Isonokami (石上内親王) (?-846)
  • Imperial Princess Ōhara (大原内親王) (?-863), 14th Saiō in Ise Shrine(806-809)

Court lady: Ki no Iokazu (紀魚員), daughter of Ki no Kotsuo

  • Imperial Princess Enu (叡努内親王) (?-835)


  1. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, pp. 96-97; Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukanshō, pp. 279-280; Varley, H. Paul. Jinnō Shōtōki, p. 151.
  2. ^ Brown, pp. 264; n.b., up until the time of Emperor Jomei, the personal names of the emperors (their imina) were very long and people did not generally use them. The number of characters in each name diminished after Jomei's reign.
  3. ^ Brown, p. 279; Titsingh, p. 96.
  4. ^ Varley, p. 151; Brown, p. 279.
  5. ^ a b Brown, p. 279.
  6. ^ Titsingh, p. 95; Brown, pp. 278-279; Varley, p. 44; n.b., a distinct act of senso is unrecognized prior to Emperor Tenji; and all sovereigns except Jitō, Yōzei, Go-Toba, and Fushimi have senso and sokui in the same year until the reign of Emperor Go-Murakami.
  7. ^ Brown, pp. 278-279; Varley, p. 272; Titsingh, p. 99.
  8. ^ a b c d Brown, p. 280.
  9. ^ Brown, p. 280; Varley, p. 151.
  10. ^ Narashikanko: Heizei's misasagi, map
  11. ^ Furugosho: Kugyō of Heizi-tennō (French)
  12. ^ Titsingh, p. 96.


See also

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Kammu
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Saga


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