The five regent houses (五摂家; go-seike or go-sekke) is a collective term for five families of the
 The leaders of these families monopolized the position of
Sekkan in the
Imperial Court of Kyoto between the 12th and 19th century. The five houses are
clan also had other families, but traditionally only these five were eligible for regentship. They were the most politically powerful families among the
kuge (court officials).
As the imperial clan claimed descent from the goddess
Amaterasu, in the Fujiwara tradition the clan descended from another ancient
Ame-no-Koyane. Apparently, only these two clans were left in the modern era to claim kami descent.
Partly based on that kami descent, tradition required that emperors may marry only from the Fujiwara and the imperial family itself - the view was that an empress must descend from gods, too. Thus, with the exception of
Tokugawa Masako, wife of the Emperor
Mizunoo, all Empresses of that long period were of the clans that formed the Sekke or from branches of the imperial family itself.