On Thu, 24 Jan 2002, George Charette wrote:
> Hello there!
> Question: 1- was it possible/rare/frequent that the head of a family or clan
> would be challenged for his position by someone of his clan/family or
> affiliated clan?
If it EVER happened, it would have been extremely rare. The head of a
family or clan isn't really 'earned' in that way (although, as
Hiraizumi-dono mentioned, assassination did occur). The closest thing I
can think of would have been a family splitting off, although I really
don't think even that would have happened too much.
This is a culture which is centered around the group; I think that
'calling out' the leader is much more of an individualist trait (you want
the power for yourself, rather than subverting yourself to the will of the
group). Taken to extremes, retainers were known to commit suicide rather
than rebel against their lord as a form of chastisement.
Now, I wouldn't say that means someone wouldn't challenge the _power_ of
the head of the clan, and I think that such a feat probably was
accomplished (one person being the nominal head of the family, but the
decisions all coming from another person). As a model I would point to
how they retained the Emperor, even though the power had been taken. The
position is important for rank and prestige, but not necessarily power
(besides, if you can overthrow him, someone can overthrow you, and that is
just a bad precedent to be setting).
> 2-For wich reason could this happened? Too old/ dumb/coward/all of them?
See other responses. However, I'm not 100% sure, but I believe that
taking the tonsure was often a way of stepping out of things. And when
someone has gotten old enough, if you know what you are doing, you can
probably persuade them to name you their heir and then go retire.
Otherwise, especially in later periods, attrition kicks in.
--If the head of the clan is too old, he probably can't fight well, and
will probably get killed (if he doesn't keel over soon anyway)
--If he is too dumb, ditto.
--If he is a coward, well, see above.
Later period seems to have been pretty intolerant of weakness, it seems.
Might I ask why you are asking?