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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Tradition has it that Go Daigo


the investment of the Hiei monastery made little progress, and Takauji had recourse to treachery. At the close of October he opened secret communications with Go-Daigo; assured him that the Ashikaga did not entertain any disloyal purpose; declared that their seemingly hostile attitude had been inspired by the enmity of the Nitta brothers; begged Go-Daigo to return to Kyoto, and promised not only that should all ideas of revenge be foregone, but also that the administration should be handed over to the Court, and all their ranks and estates restored to the Emperor's followers.

Go-Daigo ought surely to have distrusted these professions. He must have learned from Takauji's original impeachment of Yoshisada how unscrupulous the Ashikaga leader could be on occasion, and he should have well understood the impossibility of peace between these two men. Yet his Majesty relied on Takauji's assurances. It was in vain that Horiguchi Sadamitsu recounted Yoshisada's services, detailed the immense sacrifices he had made in the Imperial cause, and declared that if the Emperor were determined to place himself in Takauji's hands, he should prepare his departure from Hiei-zan by summoning to his presence Yoshisada with the other Nitta leaders and sentencing them to death. Go-Daigo was not to be moved from his purpose. He gave Yoshisada fair words indeed: "I profoundly praise your loyal services. My wish is to pacify the country by the assistance of your family,

but heaven has not yet vouchsafed its aid. Our troops are worn out and the hour is unpropitious. Therefore, I make peace for the moment and bide my time. Do you repair to Echizen and use your best endeavours to promote the cause of the restoration. Lest you be called a rebel after my return to Kyoto, I order the Crown Prince to accompany you."

Thus Go-Daigo, truly faithful neither to the one side nor to the other, set out for the capital. That night, Yoshisada prayed at the shrine of Hiyoshi: "Look down on my loyalty and help me to perform my journey safely so that I may raise an army to destroy the insurgents. If that is not to be, let one of my descendants achieve my aim." Two hundred and six years later, there was born in Mikawa of the stock of Yoshisada one of the greatest generals and altogether the greatest ruler that Japan has ever produced, Minamoto Ieyasu. Heaven answered Yoshisada's prayer tardily but signally.


Not one of Takauji's promises did he respect. He imprisoned Go-Daigo; he stripped all the courtiers of their ranks and titles; he placed in confinement all the generals and officers of the Imperial forces, and he ordered the transfer of the insignia to the sovereign of his own nomination, Komyo. Tradition has it that Go-Daigo, victim of so many treacheries, practised one successful deception himself: he reserved the original of the sacred sword and seal and handed counterfeits to Komyo. This took place on November 12, 1336. Some two months later, January 23, 1337, Go-Daigo, disguised as a woman for the second time in his career, fled from his place of detention through a broken fence, and reached Yoshino in Yamato, where he was received by Masatsura, son of Kusunoki Masashige, and by Kitabatake Chikafusa.

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