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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Foremost of these were the Akamatsu


first it seemed as if the Kamakura men would emerge victorious. At the easily defended passes of Hakone they inflicted several successive though not signal defeats upon Mochifusa's army. But the appearance of Norizane in the field quickly changed the complexion of the campaign. Very soon the Kamakura force was shattered, and Mochiuji himself fled to the temple Shomyo-ji in Kanazawa, where he begged to be allowed to retire from the world. But the shogun declined to pardon him and remained obdurate in spite of earnest and repeated petitions from Norizane, praying that Mochiuji should be forgiven and allowed to retire in favour of his son, Yoshihisa. In the end, Mochiuji, his son, his uncle, and many others all died by their own hands. These things happened in 1439. The redeeming feature of the sombre family feud was the fine loyalty of Norizane. Though it had been against him chiefly that Mochiuji raged, and though his death was certain had he fallen under the power of the Kamakura kwanryo, Mochiuji's fate caused him such remorse that he attempted to commit suicide and finally became a priest. Thenceforth, the title of governor-general of the Kwanto passed to the Uesugi, two of whom were appointed to act simultaneously. As for the Kamakura Ashikaga, the three remaining sons of Mochiuji fled to Koga in Shimosa, where two of them were subsequently killed by a Kamakura army, and the third, Shigeuji, fared as has already been described.



It has been shown that Akamatsu Norimura was among the captains who contributed most to the triumph of the Ashikaga cause. In recognition of his distinguished services the offices of high constable in the five provinces of Settsu, Inaba, Harima, Mimasaka, and Bizen were given to his three sons. Mitsusuke, grandson of the eldest of these, administered three of the above provinces in the days of the fourth Ashikaga shogun, Yoshimochi. A puny man of contemptible presence, Mitsusuke received little consideration at Muromachi, and the shogun was induced to promise his office of high constable to a handsome kinsman, Mochisada. Enraged at such partiality, Mitsusuke set fire to his mansion in Kyoto and withdrew to his castle at Shirahata in Harima. When, however, the shogun would have sent an army against him, none was found to take command, Mochisada having given universal offence by his haughty arrogance. In the sequel, Mitsusuke had to be pardoned and Mochisada ordered to kill himself.

After the death of the shogun, Yoshimochi, Mitsusuke fell into fresh trouble. The new shogun, Yoshinori, belonged to a very different category of men from his immediate predecessors. He conquered the Kitabatake family in Ise; repressed the remnants of the Southern Court league; crushed the military monks by capturing Nara and Hiei-zan; put an end finally to Kamakura's intrigues; obtained control of the west, and quelled his enemies in all directions. It now became his task to bend to his will the overstrong and over-presumptuous among the concerted families of the Ashikaga. Foremost of these were the Akamatsu, their chief, a man whose personality invited contumely. The shogun disliked Mitsusuke, and found it an agreeable occupation to slight him. Gradually the Akamatsu leader became bitterly estranged. Moreover, he saw his younger sister executed for disobedience though she was the shogun's mistress; he saw the nephew of his old enemy, Mochisada, treated with marked favour by the Muromachi potentate, and he learned, truly or untruly, that his own office of high constable was destined to be bestowed on this favourite.

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