The earliest usage of the term was found in the Heian period, referring to a governing body consisting of royalty and high-ranked kuge (higher than ju-sammi). Subsequently, during the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, the primary executive branch of the Bakufu (office of the Shogunate) was called by this name.
During the Kamakura Shogunate, the Mandokoro governed administration and finance. It was formerly called Kumonjo, and the date when it was renamed is argued. There are two major proposed dates, 1191 or 1185.
During the Muromachi Shogunate, the Mandokoro was the office of finance and process on fiefs. Except in its earliest days, the position of chief of the Mandokoro was held by members of the Ise clan, starting in 1379.
As Kita no Mandokoro (北政所) (lit. North Mandokoro), Mandokoro was also used as an honorific title referring to the wife of the Sesshō (regent) or the Kampaku. For example, the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who held the rank of Kampaku in 1586, was styled Kita no Mandokoro (lit. North Mandokoro), and his mother was styled Ō-Mandokoro (lit. Mandokoro the Great).
During the Heian period, the wives of the kuge were often called Kita-no-kata, (Lady in the North), since their residence was normally placed in the northern complex of the palace.