The Japanese name Minamoto (源) was exactly taken no surname: It was an honour name, which Japanese emperors in the Heian time (to 794-1185) lent their sons and grandchildren, after these outer-separated from the emperor house and subjects of the emperor became.
In order to simplify and hold the rivalries around the throne within a bearable framework the imperial succession, princes, who came as successors to the throne not into question or stood in the succession right at the back, were provided with cash on deliveries and made subjects of the emperor. The Minamoto like also their rivals, the Taira, was such descendants of the imperial dynasty.
The name Minamoto was assigned for the first time by emperor Saga. 814 the emperor gave to its sons not entitled to inherit the title (Kabane) Minamoto NO Ason. Thus they and their descendants stopped being members of the imperial family. Also the emperors Seiwa, Murakami, Uda and Daigo gave the name Minamoto to their sons.
These hereditary lines, which proceeded from different emperors, developed in each case into own of clan, which are often called Genji (源氏). These lines are marked after the name of the emperor, followed by Genji, e.g. Seiwa Genji.
The Minamoto was called also as a whole Genji, this is only another discussion of the Chinese indications of Minamoto (towards) and the Minamoto belonged to family (uji
or ji) together with the Fujiwara, Taira and Tachibana to the 4 of large clan, which controlled the Japanese policy in the Heian time. The others were thoseThe most well-known and most powerful branch of the Minamoto were the Seiwa Genji.
The Protagonist of the classical Japanese Epos Genji Monogatari, Hikaru NO Genji, became from political reasons of its father, who emperors, with the name Minamoto in the civilian life and into a career as an imperial officer to dismiss.
important members of the Minamoto clan
- Minamoto Yoshitomo, aristocrat
- Minamoto Yoshiie, general and son of Minamoto Yoriyoshi.
- Minamoto Yoshinaka, general and grandchild of Minamoto Tameyoshi.