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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Nitta Yoshiaki son of Yoshisada


Nitta

Yoshiaki (son of Yoshisada), governor of Echigo.

Wakiya Yoshisuke (brother of Yoshisada), governor of Suruga.

One name left out of this list was that of Akamatsu Norimura, who had taken the leading part in driving the Hojo from Rokuhara, and who had been faithful to the Imperial cause throughout. He now became as implacable an enemy as he had previously been a loyal friend. The fact is significant. Money as money was despised by the bushi of the Kamakura epoch. He was educated to despise it, and his nature prepared him to receive such education. But of power he was supremely ambitious--power represented by a formidable army of fully equipped followers, by fortified castles, and by widely recognized authority. The prime essential of all these things was an ample landed estate To command the allegiance of the great military families without placing them under an obligation by the grant of extensive manors would have been futile. On the other hand, to grant such manors in perpetuity meant the creation of practically independent feudal chiefs.

The trouble with the restored Government of Go-Daigo was that it halted between these two alternatives. Appreciating that its return to power had been due to the efforts of certain military magnates, it rewarded these in a measure; but imagining that its own administrative authority had been replaced on the ancient basis, it allowed itself

to be guided, at the same time, by capricious favouritism. Even in recognizing the services of the military leaders, justice was not observed. The records clearly show that on the roll of merit the first place, after Prince Morinaga, should have been given to Kusunoki Masashige's name. When Kasagi fell and when the Emperor was exiled, Masashige, alone among the feudatories of sixty provinces, continued to fight stoutly at the head of a small force, thus setting an example of steadfast loyalty which ultimately produced many imitators. Nitta Yoshisada ought to have stood next in order; then Akamatsu Norimura; then Nawa Nagatoshi, and finally Ashikaga Takauji.* In the case of Takauji, there was comparatively little merit. He had taken up arms against the Imperial cause at the outset, and even in the assault on Rokuhara he had been of little service. Yet to him the Crown allotted the greatest honour and the richest rewards. Some excuse may be found in Takauji's lineage, but in that respect he was inferior to Nitta Yoshisada.

*Arai Hakuseki (1656-1725).

Still more flagrant partiality was displayed in other directions. Relying on the promises of the Funanoe edicts epitomized above, thousands of military officers thronged the Court in Kyoto, clamouring for recognition of their services. Judges were appointed to examine their pleas, but that proved a tedious task, and in the meanwhile all the best lands had been given away by favour or affection. Go-Daigo himself appropriated the manors of Hojo Takatoki; those of Hojo Yasuie were assigned to Prince Morinaga; those of Osaragi Sadanao went to the Imperial consort, Renko. The immediate attendants of the sovereign, priests, nuns, musicians, litterateurs--all obtained broad acres by the Imperial fiat, and when, in the tardy sequel of judicial procedure, awards were made to military men, no spoil remained to be divided. Soon a cry went up, and gained constantly in volume and vehemence, a cry for the restoration of the military regime. As for Go-Daigo, whatever ability he had shown in misfortune seemed to desert him in prosperity. He neglected his administrative duties, became luxurious and arrogant, and fell more and more under the influence of the lady Ren. Of Fujiwara lineage, this lady had shared the Emperor's exile and assisted his escape from Oki. It had long been her ambition to have her son, Tsunenaga, nominated Crown Prince, but as Prince Morinaga was older and had established a paramount title by his merits, his removal must precede the accomplishment of her purpose. Fate furnished a powerful ally. Prince Morinaga, detecting that Ashikaga Takauji concealed a treacherous purpose under a smooth demeanour, solicited the Emperor's mandate to deal with him. Go-Daigo refused, and thereafter the lady Ren and the Ashikaga chief, whose influence increased daily, entered into a league for the overthrow of Prince Morinaga.


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