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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Yoshiaki and Prince Takanaga committed suicide


DEATHS

OF YOSHISADA AND AKIIYE

In the fact that he possessed a number of sons, Go-Daigo had an advantage over his fourteen-year-old rival, Komyo, for these Imperial princes were sent out to various districts to stimulate the loyal efforts of local bushi. With Yoshisada to Echizen went the Crown Prince and his brother Takanaga. They entrenched themselves at Kana-ga-saki, on the seacoast, whence Yoshisada's eldest son, Yoshiaki, was despatched to Echigo to collect troops, and a younger brother, Yoshisuke, to Soma-yama on a similar errand. Almost immediately, Ashikaga Takatsune with an army of twenty thousand men laid siege to Kanaga-saki. But Yoshiaki and Yoshisuke turned in their tracks and delivered a rear attack which scattered the besiegers. This success, however, proved only temporary. The Ashikaga leader's deep resentment against Yoshisada inspired a supreme effort to crush him, and the Kana-ga-saki fortress was soon invested by an overwhelming force on sea and on shore. Famine necessitated surrender. Yoshiaki and Prince Takanaga committed suicide, the latter following the former's example and using his blood-stained sword. The Crown Prince was made prisoner and subsequently poisoned by Takauji's orders. Yoshisada and his brother Yoshisuke escaped to Soma-yama and rallied their partisans to the number of three thousand.

The fall of Kana-ga-saki occurred in April, 1338, and, two months later, Go-Daigo took the very

exceptional course of sending an autograph letter to Yoshisada. The events which prompted his Majesty were of prime moment to the cause of the Southern Court. Kitabatake Akiiye, the youthful governor of Mutsu and son of the celebrated Chikafusa, marched southward at the close of 1337, his daring project being the capture, first, of Kamakura, and next, of Kyoto The nature of this gallant enterprise may be appreciated by observing that Mutsu lies at the extreme north of the main island, is distant some five hundred miles from Kyoto, and is separated from the latter by several regions hostile to the cause which Akiiye represented. Nevertheless, the brilliant captain, then in his twenty-first year, seized Kamakura in January, 1338, and marched thence in February for Yoshino. He gained three victories on the way, and had nearly reached his objective when, at Ishizu, he encountered a great army of Ashikaga troops under an able leader, Ko no Moronao, and after a fierce engagement the Southern forces were shattered, Akiiye himself falling in the fight. This disaster occurred on June 11, 1338. A brave rally was made by Akiiye's younger brother, Akinobu. He gathered the remnants of the Mutsu army and occupied Otokoyama, which commands Kyoto.

It was at this stage of the campaign that Go-Daigo resorted to the exceptional measure of sending an autograph letter to Yoshisada, then entrenched at Somayama, in Echizen. His Majesty conjured the Nitta leader to march to the assistance of Akinobu at Otoko-yama. Yoshisada responded at once. He despatched his brother, Yoshisuke, with twenty thousand men, remaining himself to cover the rear of the expedition. But Otoko-yama surrendered before this succour reached it, and the Nitta brothers then combined their forces to operate against the Ashikaga. Nothing decisive resulted, and in September, 1338, Yoshisada fell in an insignificant combat near the fortress of Fujishima in Echizen. He caused a comrade to behead him and carry off the head, but the enemy identified him by means of the Imperial letter found on his person.


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