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平城

Emperor Heizei (773-824) was the 51st emperor of Japan, at least according to the traditional chronology, reigning from 806 to 809.

Heizei was the eldest son of Emperor Kammu and the older brother of Emperor Saga. Heizei was a retiring, amiable man with little interest in politics, whereas his younger brother Saga was a hedonistic spendthrift who coveted the throne in order to better support his lavish lifestyle. When Emperor Kammu died, Heizei was the heir to the throne, but the greedy Saga contested his claim. Heizei was liked by all, however, and his claim was fairly ironclad so he assumed the throne with little trouble. However, his distaste for politics soon led him to abdicate the throne to Saga after a reign of just three years.

This move greatly angered Heizei's ambitious principal consort, Fujiwara no Kusuko, who had been hoping to have herself formally named Empress, and could not accept the sudden dissolution of her lifelong dream. She therefore took advantage of Saga's falling ill soon after ascending to the throne to foment an armed rebellion in Heizei's name.

Saga thereupon had the title of "shogun" granted to Sakanoue No Tamuramaro, who put down the rebellion. The disgraced Kusuko committed suicide, and Heizei withdrew from public life completely and became a monk, living in peaceful seclusion for fourteen more years.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, Heizei's tomb is the Yamamomo no Misasagi (楊梅陵) near Nara, which is one of the largest kofun in Japan. However, excavations conducted in 1962/63 discovered that the tomb in question had actually been constructed in the 5th century, hundreds of years before Heizei lived.


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