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Minamoto no Yoritomo's paternal grandfather, Minamoto no Tameyoshi, led the esteemed Minamoto clan, while his maternal grandfather, a member of the renowned Fujiwara clan, served as the chief priest at Atsuta Shrine, the second most revered Shinto Shrine in Japan after the Great Shrine of Ise. Yoritomo's mother had returned to her hometown, now Nagoya, and Yoritomo was born in Atsuta (Nagoya) on May 9, 1147, at the location where the Seigan-ji Temple stands today.

In 1156, the Hogen Disturbance, a brief civil war, erupted over a dispute within the Imperial Court, divided between two branches led by the former Emperor Toba, supported by influential Fujiwara clan members and Taira no Kiyomori, and Toba's eldest son, the former Emperor Sutoku, backed by other Fujiwara clan members and hereditary Imperial regents.

After the conflict, Yoritomo's father assumed leadership of the Minamoto clan, and due to Yoritomo's mixed Minamoto and Fujiwara lineage, he became the heir, receiving his initial court title. The two rival families clashed again in the Heiji Disturbance, resulting in the Minamoto's defeat. With the Taira now dominant in Japan, the Minamoto faced execution or exile. Yoritomo, however, was spared. In 1179, he married into the Hojo clan, which supported his petition to reclaim leadership of the Minamoto clan, challenging the Taira's authority. Over the subsequent years, he gradually built a power base and witnessed the Taira's decisive defeat at the naval Battle of Dan-no-Ura in 1185. This victory granted him the freedom to establish a government in Kamakura in 1192, where he ruled until his accidental death at the age of 51 on February 9, 1199, following a fall from his horse the previous day.

 


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