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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley




In 1353, the Southern court received a signal accession of strength in the allegiance of the Yamana family and of Tadafuyu. The latter has already been spoken of as an illegitimate son of Takauji, who, through the influence of his uncle, Tadayoshi, was appointed tandai of the western provinces. The death of his patron inclined this able captain to join the Southern Court, and his inclination was translated into action early in 1353, owing to need of support against the partisans of the Ashikaga in the island of Kyushu and the western provinces. As for the Yamana, they were of Minamoto lineage; their influence was supreme in Hoki and Inaba, and they faithfully espoused the Ashikaga cause until an unfulfilled promise of a manor alienated their good-will. For to such considerations of self-interest men not infrequently sacrificed their duty of allegiance in the troublous times of the fourteenth century.

Thus re-enforced, the Southern troops, under the supreme command of Tadafuyu, marched against Kyoto in July, 1353, and captured the city. Yoshiakira, guarding the young sovereign, Go-Kogon, effected his escape, and the Southern Emperor, Go-Murakami, issued a decree depriving of their official ranks and possessions all Court nobles who had assisted at the ceremony of the fugitive monarch's coronation. But the supremacy of the South did not last long. In August, Yoshiakira was strong enough

to countermarch against the capital and to drive out Tadafuyu. Moreover, Takauji himself now found it safe to leave the Kwanto. Placing his son Motouji in charge at Kamakura, he returned to Kyoto accompanying the Emperor Go-Kogon, and thenceforth during nearly two years the supremacy of the North was practically undisputed.


Fate willed that while his enemies were thus triumphant, death should overtake the great statesman, strategist, and historian, Kitabatake Chikafusa. He died in 1354, at the age of sixty-two. Japanese annalists say of Chikafusa: "It was through his ability that the Southern forces were co-ordinated and kept active in all parts of the empire. It was due to his clever strategy that Kyoto lay under constant menace from the south. If the first great protagonists in the struggle between the Northern and the Southern Courts were Prince Morinaga and Takauji, and those of the next were Nitta Yoshisada and Takauji, the third couple was Kitabatake Chikafusa and Takauji." Chikafusa was of wide erudition; he had a wonderful memory, and his perpetual guides were justice and righteousness. After his death the Southern Court fell into a state of division against itself; and its spirit sensibly declined.


Takauji survived Chikafusa by only four years; he expired in 1358. Undoubtedly his figure is projected in very imposing dimensions on the pages of his country's history, and as the high mountain in the Chinese proverb is gilded by the sunbeams and beaten by the storm, so condemnation and eulogy have been poured upon his head by posterity. An annalist of his time says: "Yoritomo was impartial in bestowing rewards, but so severe in meting out punishments as to seem almost inhuman. Takauji, however, in addition to being humane and just, is strong-minded, for no peril ever summons terror to his eye or banishes the smile from his lip; merciful, for he knows no hatred and treats his foes as his sons; magnanimous, for he counts gold and silver as stones or sand, and generous, for he never compares the gift with the recipient, but gives away everything as it comes to hand. It is the custom for people to carry many presents to the shogun on the first day of the eighth month, but so freely are those things given away that nothing remains by the evening, I am told."

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