The years from 890, when he returned to the capital, until 901, when he was driven into exile, mark the third stage in Michizane's official career. In a remarkably short time, he attained a position of political power unprecedented in the Heian period for a man of his scholarly background. Michizane's academic abilities and, to a lesser extent, his administrative experience in Sanuki made possible his surprising political ascendancy, but a more direct cause was the patronage he received from Emperor Uda. Under Uda, Michizane served as one of the principal agents in the emperor's struggle to revive the political fortunes of the imperial family by means of the ritsuryō system. In addition, he became Uda's closest confidant and adviser. Although Michizane could be a difficult individual and had few intimate friends, he remained on the best of terms with the young emperor, perhaps because he was flattered by the unexpected attention he was receiving from Uda, a man who both needed him as an ally at court and also admired him as a poet. Michizane's rise to high office during Uda's reign illustrates how early Heian politics worked at the highest level and reveals a complexity beyond that suggested by later romances in which the principal question is whose daughter will produce the next crown prince. That was indeed a concern, but questions of personal allegiance and occasionally of policy were also considerations.
Having entered the path to political power, Michizane would
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Publication information: Book title: Sugawara No Michizane and the Early Heian Court. Contributors: Robert Borgen - Author. Publisher: University of Hawaii Press. Place of publication: Honolulu, HI. Publication year: 1994. Page number: 197.
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