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New Medieval Books: The Dawn of the Warrior Age

The Dawn of the Warrior Age: War Tales from Medieval Japan

Translated by Royall Tyler

Columbia University Press
ISBN: 978-0-231-21467-4

This book offers translations of three medieval texts: The Tale of the Hogen Years, The Tale of the Heiji Years, and An Account of the Jokyu Years, all of which describe war and violence over who would rule the imperial court of Japan.


In 1156 effective power in Japan began to slip away from the imperial court in Kyoto. The founding of the Kamakura shogunate in 1192 confirmed the change, and in 1221 the shogunate’s victory over an imperial attempt to overthrow it left no doubt about the outcome. The works in this book illustrate the early and final stages of this shift. The Tale of the Hogen Years covers a deposed emperor’s attempt in 1156 to regain the throne, thus provoking in the capital violence unknown there since the city’s founding in 794. The Tale of the Heiji Years narrates an equally fierce conflict in 1159, again in the capital, between rival courtier fctions. And An Account of the Jokyu Years records Kamakura’s victory over the court in 1221. The famous Tale of the Heike fits between the first two and the last. The medieval scholar and man of letters Jien (1155-1225) wrote in Gukansho, his history of Japan completed in 1219, that the Hogen conflict had initiated musa no yo, “the warrior age.”


Who is this book for?

Those researching 12th and 13th century Japan will find this to be a useful collection. Other English translations of these texts are hard to find – Royall Tyler did publish this work previously through his own company.

The translator

Royall Tyler is a well-known scholar of Japanese history, having served as a professor at the Australian National University. He has translated numerous medieval Japanese texts. You can learn more about him through his Wikipedia page.


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