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 to
certain ex-members of the imperial family when they became subjects.
Taira clan is often referred to as Heishi (平氏, "Taira clan")
or Heike (平家, "House of Taira"), using the character's Chinese
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 (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
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 (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, 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 (1180–85), the Taira-Minamoto War.
Kiyomori's sons, the last of the head family of the Kammu Heishi line,
were eventually defeated by the 6 armies of
Minamoto no Yoritomo
Minamoto no Yoritomo at
the Battle of Dan-no-ura, the last battle of the Genpei War. This
story is told in the early Japanese epic,
The Tale of the Heike (Heike
This Kammu Heishi had many branch families, including the Hōjō,
Chiba, Miura, Tajiri and Hatakeyama.
Another Kammu Heishi: Takamune-ō (804–867), the eldest son of
Kazurahara-Shinnō (786–853) and a grandson of Emperor Kammu,
received the kabane of Taira no Ason in 825. Thus there were two Kammu
Heishi families, one descended from Takamune and the other from his
nephew, Takamochi (son of Prince Takami).
Oda clan in the time of
Oda Nobunaga (1534–1582) claimed descent
from the Taira, by Taira no Chikazane, a grandson of Taira no
^ Sansom, George (1958). A
History of Japan
History of Japan to 1334. Stanford
University Press. pp. 255–257, 275, 289–305.