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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

A strong army in Settsu menaced Yoshino


What

was certainly born of the troubled era, however, was a sentiment of contempt for central authority and a disposition to rely on one's own right arm. It could not have been otherwise. In several provinces official nominees of both Courts administered simultaneously, and men were requisitioned for aid, to-day, to the Northern cause, to-morrow, to the Southern. To be strong enough to resist one or the other was the only way to avoid ruinous exactions. From that to asserting one's strength at the expense of a neighbour who followed a different flag was a short step, if not a duty, and thus purely selfish considerations dictated a fierce quarrel and inspired many an act of unscrupulous spoliation. A few cases are on record of families which resorted to the device of dividing themselves into two branches, each declaring for a different cause and each warring nominally with the other. Thus the sept as a whole preserved its possessions, in part at any rate, whichever Court triumphed. But such double-faced schemes were very rare. A much commoner outcome of the situation was the growth of powerful families which regulated their affairs by means of a council of leading members without reference to Kamakura, Kyoto, or Yoshino. At the same time, minor septs in the neighbourhood saw the advantage of subscribing to the decisions of these councils and deferring to their judgments.

"This was an important step in the development of the feudal system. Another was

the abolition of feudal fiefs, as well as of the succession of women to real estate, and a curtailment of the inheritance, not so much of younger sons, as of all sons except the one selected as lord of the clan."* The shugo (high constables) also became a salient element of feudalism. Originally liable to frequent transfers of locality, some of them subsequently came to hold their office hereditarily, and these, together with the great majority of their confreres who had been appointed by the Bakufu, espoused the Ashikaga cause; a choice which impelled many of the military families in their jurisdiction to declare for the Southern Court. The Ashikaga shugo ultimately became leading magnates, for they wielded twofold authority, namely, that derived from their power as owners of broad estates, and that derived from their commission as shogun's delegates entitled to levy taxes locally. The provincial governors, at the outset purely civil officials, occasionally developed military capacity and rivalled the hereditary shugo in armed influence, but such instances were rare.

*Murdoch's History of Japan.

THE COURSE OF THE WAR

After the death of Kusunoki Masashige, of Nitta Yoshisada, and of Kitabatake Akiiye, the strategical direction of the war devolved mainly upon Kitabatake Chikafusa, so far as the Southern Court was concerned. The greater part of the nation may be said to have been in arms, but only a small section took actual part in the main campaign, the troops in the distant provinces being occupied with local struggles. Chikafusa's general plan was to menace Kyoto and Kamakura simultaneously. Just as the eight provinces of the Kwanto formed the base of the Ashikaga armies, so the eight provinces constituting the Kii peninsula--Yamato, Kawachi, Izumi, Ise, Iga, Shima, Kii (in part), and Omi (in part)--served as bases for the partisans of the South. To strike at Kyoto from this base required the previous subjugation of Settsu, and, on the other hand, a strong army in Settsu menaced Yoshino.


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