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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

He changed his name to Yoshinori


During his thirty-three years' tenure of power this ruler seems to have aimed solely at enjoying the sweets of ease and tranquillity. He left the provinces severely alone and thought only of the peace of the metropolis. Turbulent displays on the part of self-appointed partisans of the Southern Court; intrigues in the Kwanto; revolts among his own immediate followers--all these things were treated by Yoshimochi with gloved hands so long as the atmosphere of Kyoto was not troubled. In 1428, he fell sick, and, the end being in sight, he ordered his advisers to consult about his successor. Some advocated the appointment of his kinsman, Mochiuji, governor-general of the Kwanto, and Mochiuji himself prayed that it should be so. But the choice ultimately fell on Yoshimochi's younger brother, Gien, who had embraced religion and was then serving as abbot of the temple Shoren-in.

This man, then in his thirty-fourth year, hesitated to accept the nomination, but was induced to do so. He changed his name to Yoshinori, and assuming the office in 1428, showed high talents and great intrepidity. He was, in truth, a ruler as efficient as his predecessor had been perfunctory. One of the most important events of his time was the ruin of the Ashikaga Bakufu at Kamakura. Between Kamakura and Muromachi there had been friction from an early date. We have seen the second and third governors-general of the Kwanto, Ujimitsu and Mitsukane, plotting to supplant the elder branch of their family in Kyoto, and we have seen how the accession of the priest, Yoshinori, had disappointed the ambition of the fourth governor-general, Mochiuji, who, if unable to become shogun himself, would fain have obtained that high office for his son, Yoshihisa. Several years previously, namely, in 1417, there had occurred a feud between the Yamanouchi and the Ogigayatsu branches of the Uesugi family in the Kwanto, the former represented by Norimoto, the latter by Ujinori. The Uesugi stood next to the Ashikaga at Kamakura, the important office of manager (shitsuji) being invariably held by the head of the former house. It would have been well-nigh impossible therefore for the governor-general to view such a feud with indifference. Mochiuji, then in his twentieth year, sympathized with Norimoto, and in the sequel, Ujinori, with whom was allied Mochiuji's younger brother, Mochinaka, took the field at the head of such a force that the governor-general must have succumbed had not the shogun, Yoshimochi, rendered aid.

This should have placed Kamakura under a heavy debt of gratitude to Muromachi. But Mochiuji was not subject to such emotions. He rebelled vehemently against the lenient treatment accorded to Ujinori's son after their father's death, and the shogun had difficulty in placating him. So long, however, as Yoshimochi ruled in Kyoto, the Kamakura kwanrya abstained from further intrigues; but on the accession of the sometime bonze, Yoshinori, to the shogunate, all sense of restraint was removed. The governor-general now made no attempt to conceal his hostility to the Muromachi shogun. Certain family rights imperatively demanding reference to the shogun were not so referred, and Mochiuji not only spurned the remonstrances of the manager (shitsuji), Uesugi Norimoto, but even attempted to kill the latter's son, Norizane. All efforts to reconcile the Kwanto and the shitsuji proved futile, and Norizane had to flee to Kotsuke. No sooner did these things come to the ears of the shogun, Yoshinori, than he obtained an Imperial commission to quell the insurgents, and placing an army under the orders of Mochifusa, a son of Ujinori, directed him to march against Kamakura.


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