the first dynasty of shoguns, or military-feudal rulers of medieval Japan, which ruled from 1192 to 1333.
The dynasty was founded by Yoritomo Minamoto, the leader of a group of feudal warlords, or bushi, from the country’s eastern regions, upon his victory over the warlords of southwestern Japan led by Taira Kiyomori. The creation of the Minamoto Shogunate denoted the rise of the military-feudal class to counterbalance the old aristocracy headed by the emperor, much of whose lands were distributed by Yoritomo Minamoto as fiefs to his supporters. But imperial power was not formally eliminated, and the shoguns nominally acted on the emperor’s behalf. During the Minamoto Shogunate the artisans’ and merchants’ guilds (za) first appeared, markets developed, and a unified monetary system was introduced. During the 1330’s the dynasty of the Ashikaga shoguns took the place of the shoguns of the house of Minamoto.