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Minamoto no Yoritomo

(1147-99). Founder of the Kamakura Shogunate (1192-1333), the first warrior government of Japan. Yoritomo was the third son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo. Through a series of battles, Yoritomo and his followers defeated the Taira family and consolidated power over almost all of Japan. During the conflicts, however, Yoritomo's relationship with his younger brother Yoshitsune deteriorated. Eventually, Yoshitsune was forced to commit ritual suicide, and Yoritomo became shogun. Military chronicles such as the Heike monogatari, Gikeiki, and Gempei seisuiki portray Yoritomo as shrewd, calculating, and even ruthless; however, it was these very qualities that enabled Yoritomo to establish Japan's first warrior government, the basic structure of which would survive for nearly 700 years. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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