|The Imperial Seal of Japan|
Parents: Kusakabe and Gemmei, empress of Japan
Date of Birth: 683
Reign: 715 – 724
Summary: Ruling as the second woman in succession in Japan, Gensho was never intended to rule Japan. She was an elder sister of Emperor Mommu, who had predeceased her, and the daughter of the Japanese prince Kusakabe and his wife, Gemmei. When Mommu died, Kusakabe was already dead and his wife, Gemmei, the daughter of Emperor Tenji, took over as empress in his stead. Thus, Gensho descended from the Japanese royal family on both her parents' sides. Her claim to the succession was strong, and when Gemmei abdicated in 715, Gensho was selected as her successor. Gensho was chosen as an interim monarch until her nephew, Obito, son of Mommu, was old enough to rule, thus Gensho would be considered a regent in many other monarchies. But in Japan, regencies were not preferred and so on 3 October 715, Gensho became the 44th monarch of Japan.
Japan's first history book, the Nihonshoki, was completed during Gensho's reign. The book described much of the early history of Japan, copying oral histories and traditions. Gensho's place as the "44th empress" is due to this book's reckoning. The Japanese royal family was expansive during this time and had posts at every level of government. Fujiwara no Nakamaro helped organize a new code of law in Japan while Nagaya worked out a new taxation system. Fujiwara no Fuhito became the most powerful courtier and then was succeeded by Nagaya. Their two lines would fight for control of the government in future generations. In 724, Prince Obito was declared old enough to rule and Gensho abdicated in his favor. He was crowned Emperor Shomu. Gensho never had any children and never married, but lived another 24 years before dying in 748. Her tomb in located in the city of Nara.
Date of Death: 22 May 748
Other Monarch Deaths:
Constantine I, emperor of Rome (337)
Go-Reizei, emperor of Japan (1068)
Alexander VII, pope of Rome (1667)
Ferdinand II, king of the Two Sicilies (1859)