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 (February 5, 976 - June 5, 1017) was the 67th emperor of Japanmarker, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign spanned the years from 1011 through 1016.


Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (his imina) was Iyasada-shinnō. He was also known as Sukesada-shinnō, and as Okisada-shinnō (居貞親王).

Iyasada was the second son of Emperor Reizei. He was the half-brother of Emperor Kazan, who was Reizei's first-born son. Ieyasada's mother was Fujiwara no Chōshi (藤原超子) (?-982), who was the daughter of the sesshō, Fujiwara no Kaneie. Chōshi was posthumously elevated to the rank of empress mother (Zō-Kōtaigō, 贈皇太后).

In ancient Japan, there were four noble clans, the Gempeitōkitsu (源平藤橘). One of these clans, the Minamoto clan (源氏)are also known as Genji, and of these, the Sanjō Genji (三条源氏) are descended from the 67th emperor Sanjō.

Consorts and Children

Empress (Kōgō): Fujiwara no Seishi (藤原娍子) (972-1025), 1st daughter of Fujiwara no Naritoki (藤原済時)
  • Imperial Prince Atsuakira (敦明親王) (994-1051), Emperor Go-Ichijō's Crown Prince; later, Ko-ichijō In (小一条院)
  • Imperial Prince Atsunori (敦儀親王) (997-1054)
  • Imperial Prince Atsuhira (敦平親王) (999-1049)
  • Imperial Princess Tōshi (real pronunciation is unknown) (当子内親王) (1001-1023), 37th Saiō in Grand Shrine of Isemarker) 1012-1016
  • Imperial Princess Shishi (real pronunciation is unknown) (禔子内親王) (1003-1048), spouse of Fujiwara no Norimichi (藤原教通)
  • Imperial Prince Moroakira (師明親王) (1005-1085), lay priest under the name Seishin (性信) (2nd head priest of Ninna-ji Temple, 仁和寺)

Empress (Chūgū): Fujiwara no Kenshi (藤原妍子) (994-1027), 2nd daughter of Fujiwara no Michinaga
  • Imperial Princess Teishi (real pronunciation is unknown) (禎子内親王) (Empress Dowager Yōmei-mon In, 陽明門院) (1013-1094), Empress (kōgō) to Emperor Go-Suzaku, mother of Emperor Go-Sanjō

Nyōgo(crown princess): Fujiwara no Yasuko (藤原綏子) (974-1004), 3rd daughter of Fujiwara no Kaneie; adultery with Minamoto no Yorisada(son of Imperial Prince Tamehira)

Nyōgo(crown princess): Fujiwara no Genshi (藤原原子) (ca.980-1002), 2nd daughter of Fujiwara no Michitaka

Nyōgo: Fujiwara no Seishi (藤原盛子), daughter of Fujiwara no Michinaga

Events of Sanjō's life

After his mother died when he was at seven, his maternal grandfather Fujiwara no Kaneie raised him at Kaneie's mansion.

  • Kanna 2, on the 16th day of the 7th month (986): Iyasada-shinnō was appointed as heir and crown prince at age 11. This followed the convention that two imperial lineages took the throne in turn, although Emperor Ichijō was in fact Iyasada's junior. He thus gained the nickname Sakasa-no moke-no kimi (the imperial heir in reverse). When Emperor Kanzan abandoned the world for holy orders, this grandson of Kaneie ascended to the throne as Emperor Ichijō.

  • Kankō 8, on the 13th day of the 6th month (1011): In the 25th year of Emperor Ichijō's reign (一条天皇25年), the emperor abdicated; and the succession (‘‘senso’’) was received by his cousin. Shortly thereafter, Emperor Sanjō is said to have acceded to the throne (‘‘sokui’’) at age 36.
  • Kankō 8, 22nd day of the 6th month (1011): Daijō-tennō Emperor Ichijō died at the age of 32.
  • Kankō 8, 23rd day of the 8th month (1011): Fujiwara Michinaga is granted the extraordinary privilege of travelling to and rom the court by ox-drawn cart.
  • Kankō 8, 24th day of the 10th month (1011): Daijō-tennō Reizei, who was Emperor Sanjō's father, died at age 62.
  • Kankō 8 (1011): Prince Atsunari, the second son of former-Emperor Ichijo, is proclaimed Crown Prince. Sanjō's eldest son, Prince Atsuakira, had been the officially designated heir; but pressure from Michinaga forced the young prince abandon his position.

Kaneie died in the early of Ichijō's reign. His three uncles, sons of Kaneie, made their daughters consorts of Ichijo and aimed to seize power as the grandfather of the future emperor. These courtiers therefore sought to exclude Okisada from the Imperial succession, though each of them married their daughter to him. Later Ichijō had children by Fujiwara no Kishi, the daughter of Fujiwara no Michinaga, and Michinaga expected his grandson to ascend to the throne as soon as possible. Michinaga became the kampaku (regent) of Japan during the reign of Ichijō and expected to hold this position in Sanjō's government as well.
  • Chōwa 1 (1012): The era name is changed to mark Emperor Sanjō's accession; and in the 8th month, he married a daughter of kampaku Michinaga.
  • Chōwa 2, in the 3rd month (1013): Sanjō sends an offering of grain to the gods of the 21 principal temples of Japan.
  • Chōwa 2, in the 9th month (1013): Sanjō visits the home of Michinaga.

  • Chōwa 2, in the 11th month (1013): Sanjō visits the Shrine of Iwashimizu Hachimanmarker, and successive emperors would emulate his example visiting this shrine annually.
  • Chōwa 2, in the 12th month (1013): Sanjō visits the Shrines of Kamo, and successive emperors would emulate his example visiting this shrine annually.
  • Chōwa 2, in the 12th month (1013): Fujiwara no Masanobu, an officer of the chūgo's guard was killed by Fujiwara no Korekane; and Michinaga ordered the assassin imprisoned.
  • Chōwa 3, on the 9th day of the 2nd month (1014): The Imperial Palace is destroyed by fire.
  • Chōwa 3, in the 5th month (1014): Sanjō visited the home of Michinaga where he enjoyed himself with horse riding and archery.
  • Chōwa 4, in the 9th month (1015): The reconstruction of the palace is completed.
  • Chōwa 4, in the 10th month (1015): Michinaga's 50th birthday is celebrated.
  • Chōwa 4, in the 11th month (1015): The palace is again reduced to cinders after a devastaging fire.
  • Chōwa 5, in the 1st month (1016): Sanjō grew increasingly blind; and he abdicated at the age of 40, having reigned for 6 years in the nengō Chōwa. He took the title Daijō-tennō.
  • Chōwa 5, on the 29th day of the 1st month (1016): In the 6th year of Emperor Sanjō's reign (三条天皇6年), the emperor abdicated; and the succession (‘‘senso’’) was received by his cousin. Shortly thereafter, Emperor Go-Ichijō is said to have acceded to the throne (‘‘sokui’’) at age 9.
  • Chōwa 6, on the 23rd day of the 4th month (1017): The era name was changed to Kannin to mark the beginning of Emperor Go-Ichijō's reign.

  • Kannin 1, on the 29th day of the 4th month (1017): Sanjō entered the Buddhist priesthood.
  • Kannin 1, on the 9th day of the 5th month (1017): The former-Emperor Sanjō died at age 42. He was given the posthumous name of Sanjō-in (三条院) after the palace where he spent his life after abdicating. After the Meiji Era, the in was dropped and replaced with tennō (Emperor).

Michinaga gifted Atsuakira a status equal to the retired emperor, with the title of Ko-ichijo-in. Although no son of Sanjō ascended to the throne, a future emperor (Emperor Go-Sanjō) was child of Princess Teishi, Sanjō's daughter, and thus his blood remained in the imperial bloodline.


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. Even during those years in which the court's actual influence outside the palace walls was minimal, the hierarchic organization persisted.

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 Sanjō's reign, this apex of the Daijō-kan included:

Eras of Sanjō's reign

The years of Sanjō's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.


  1. Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, p. 154-155; Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukanshō, p. 307; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, p. 195.
  2. Brown, pp. 264. [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. 307; Varley, p. 195.
  4. Titsingh, p. 154.
  5. Brown, pp. 300-307.
  6. Brown, p. 307.
  7. Varley, p. 195.
  8. Titsingh, p. 154; Brown, p. 307; Varley, p. 44. [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 Go-Murakami.]
  9. Brown, p. 306.
  10. Titsingh, p. 155; Brown, p. 306.
  11. Brown, p. 308.
  12. Titsingh, p. 155.
  13. Titsingh, p. 155; Brown, p. 307.
  14. Titsingh, p. 154; Brown, p. 307; Varley, p. 44.
  15. Brown, p. 310.


See also

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