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TAIRA CLAN (平氏, Hei-shi) was a major Japanese clan of samurai .

In reference to Japanese history , along with Minamoto , Taira was a hereditary clan name bestowed by the emperors of the Heian period
Heian period
to certain ex-members of the imperial family when they became subjects. The Taira clan
Taira clan
is often referred to as Heishi (平氏, "Taira clan") or Heike (平家, "House of Taira"), using the character's Chinese reading hei.

Offshoots of the imperial dynasty, some grandsons of Emperor Kanmu were first given the name Taira in 825 or later. Afterwards, descendants of Emperor Ninmyō , Emperor Montoku , and Emperor Kōkō were also given the surname. The specific hereditary lines from these emperors are referred to by the emperor's posthumous name followed by Heishi, e.g. Kanmu Heishi.

The Taira were one of the four important clans that dominated Japanese politics during the Heian period
Heian period
(794–1185) – the others were the Fujiwara clan , the Tachibana clan and the Minamoto clan .

The Kanmu Heishi line, founded in 889 by Taira no Takamochi (a great-grandson of the 50th Kanmu tennō, reigned 781–806), proved to be the strongest and most dominant line during the late Heian period with Taira no Kiyomori
Taira no Kiyomori
eventually forming the first samurai-dominated government in the history of Japan. A great-grandson of Heishi Takamochi, Taira no Korihira, moved to Ise Province
Ise Province
(now part of Mie Prefecture ) and established a major daimyo dynasty.

Masamori's son, Taira no Tadamori , became a loyal supporter of the abdicated Emperor Shirakawa , which enabled the Taira fortunes to grow. Taira no Kiyomori
Taira no Kiyomori
, son and heir of Tadamori, rose to the position of daijō daijin (great minister of state) following his victories in the Hōgen Disturbance (1156) and the Heiji Rebellion (1160). Kiyomori managed to enthrone his infant grandson as Emperor Antoku in 1180, an act which led to the Genpei War</