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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The Yamana leader was killed and his army completely routed


The

most prominent figures in the closing chapter of the great dynastic struggle are Hosokawa Yoriyuki and Yamana Mitsuyuki. When the second Ashikaga shogun, Yoshiakira, recognized that his days were numbered, he summoned his trusted councillor, Hosokawa Yoriyuki, and his son Yoshimitsu, and said to the latter, "I give you a father," and to the former, "I give you a son." Yoriyuki faithfully discharged the trust thus reposed in him. He surrounded his youthful charge with literary and military experts, and secured to him every advantage that education could confer. Moreover, this astute statesman seems to have apprehended that if the cause of the Southern Court were not actually opposed, it would die of inanition, and he therefore employed all his influence to preserve peace. He endeavoured also to enforce strict obedience to the economical precepts of the Kemmu code, and altogether the ethics he favoured were out of harmony with the social conditions of Kyoto at the time and with the natural proclivities of the young shogun himself. In fine, he had to leave the capital, too full of his enemies, and to retire to his native province, Awa.

During ten years he remained in seclusion. But, in 1389, a journey made by the shogun to Miya-jima revealed so many evidences of Yoriyuki's loyalty that he was invited to return to Kyoto, and with his assistance the organization of the Ashikaga forces at Muromachi was brought to a high state of efficiency, partly

because the astute Yoriyuki foresaw trouble with the Yamana family, which was then supreme in no less than ten provinces, or nearly one-sixth of all Japan. In 1391 Yamana Ujikiyo and his kinsman Mitsuyuki took the field against Kyoto under the standard of the Southern Court. He commanded a great army, and there resulted a desperate struggle known in history as the Meitoku War, after the name of the year-period when it occurred. The Yamana leader was killed and his army completely routed. In the following year, the great Hosokawa Yoriyuki died. He had lived to see the ten provinces recovered from Yamana rule and partitioned among the Muromachi generals.

But he expired just before the final triumph to which his genius had so materially contributed. For within a few months of his demise the War of the Dynasties came at last to a close. The proximate cause was the fall of the Kusunoki stronghold, which had been built by Masashige, and during sixty years had remained unconquered. With its reduction, preceded as it had been by the annihilation of the Yamana, the fortunes of the Southern Court had become hopeless, and overtures carried from Kyoto by one of the most distinguished of the Muromachi generals, Ouchi Yoshihiro, were accepted. Go-Komatsu then occupied the Northern throne. He had succeeded Go-Enyu, in 1382, and the latter, had succeeded Go-Kogon, in 1371. Go-Komatsu, having been only six years of age at the time of his accession, was in his sixteenth year when the two Courts came to an agreement.

For a time the terms proved very difficult of adjustment, but ultimately it was decided that the Southern sovereign,


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