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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

This must have been fully apparent to Kusunoki Masashige


An

unlooked-for event turned the scale. It has been related above that, in the struggle which ended in the restoration of Go-Daigo, Akamatsu Norimura was chiefly instrumental in driving the Hojo from Rokuhara; and it has also been related that, in the subsequent distribution of rewards, his name was omitted for the slight reason that he had, at one period, entered religion. He now moved up from Harima at the head of a strong force and, attacking from the south, effected an entry into Kyoto, just as he had done three years previously. Go-Daigo fled to Hiei, carrying the sacred insignia with him, and on the 24th of February, 1336, the Ashikaga armies marched into the Imperial capital.

TAKAUJI RETIRES TO KYUSHU

At this stage succour arrived for the Imperialists from the extreme north. In the arrangement of the local administration after Go-Daigo re-occupied the throne, the two northern provinces of Mutsu and Dewa had been separated from the Kwanto and placed under the control of Prince Yoshinaga, with Kitabatake Akiiye for lieutenant. The latter, a son of the renowned Chikafusa, was in his nineteenth year when the Ashikaga revolted. He quickly organized a powerful army with the intention of joining Yoshisada's attack upon Kamakura, but not being in time to carry out that programme, he changed the direction of his march and hastened towards Kyoto. He arrived there when the Ashikaga troops were laying siege to Hiei-zan,

and effecting a union with the Imperialists, he succeeded in raising the siege and recovering the city.

It is unnecessary to follow in detail the vicissitudes that ensued. Stratagems were frequent. At one time we find a number of Yoshisada's men, officers and privates alike, disguising themselves, mingling with the Ashikaga army, and turning their arms against the latter at a critical moment. At another, Kusunoki Masashige spreads a rumour of Yoshisada's death in battle, and having thus induced Takauji to detach large forces in pursuit of the deceased's troops, falls on him, and drives him to Hyogo, where, after a heavy defeat, he has to flee to Bingo. Now, for a second time, the Ashikaga cause seemed hopeless when Akamatsu Norimura again played a most important role. He provided an asylum for Takauji and Tadayoshi; counselled them to go to the west for the purpose of mustering and equipping their numerous partisans; advised them to obtain secretly a mandate from the senior branch of the Imperial family so that they too, as well as their opponents, might be entitled to fly the brocade banner, and having furnished them with means to effect their escape, returned to Harima and occupied the fortress of Shirahata with the object of checking pursuit. At this point there is a break in the unrelenting continuity of the operations. It should obviously have been the aim of the Imperialists to strike a conclusive blow before the Ashikaga leaders had time to assemble and organize their multitudinous supporters in Shikoku, Kyushu, and the provinces on the north of the Inland Sea. This must have been fully apparent to Kusunoki Masashige, an able strategist. Yet a delay of some weeks occurred.


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