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The Heike monogatari or The Tales of the Heike is a long medieval narrative, extant in multiple variants, about the rise and fall of Taira Kiyomori and the Heike warrior house in the course of the twelfth century. The first half of the Heike narrate the rapid rise and consolidation of Kiyomori's power, alternating praise with censure. The second half of the Heike narrates the defeat of the Heike by the Genji forces, first led by Kiso no Yoshinaka, who drives the Heike into flight and exile from the capital; and then by Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who defeats them in two battles. As the Heike variants circulated throughout the fourteenth and into the fifteenth centuries, copied and recopied by multiple hands, the story continued to propagate and gain ever larger audiences across all classes of Japanese society, reaching a peak of popularity in the golden age of Heike performance in the fifteenth century.
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