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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

So did the Hosokawa against the Ashikaga


style="text-align: justify;">In 1545, the shogun, Yoshiharu, resigned in favour of his son, Yoshiteru. Two years of quiet ensued in Kyoto, and then the old feud broke out once more. The Hosokawa, represented by Harumoto, and the Miyoshi, by Chokei, fought for supremacy. Victory rested with the Miyoshi. The Hosokawa's power was shattered, and Chokei ruled in Kyoto through his vassal, Matsunaga Hisahide. The era is memorable for the assassination of a shogun. Yoshiteru had become reconciled with Chokei and was suffered to live quietly at Muromachi. But after Chokei's death (he was poisoned by Hisahide), Yoshiteru's cousin, Yoshihide, a son of Yoshikore, sought to be nominated successor to the shogunate through the aid of Masanaga and Hisahide. In 1565, this plot matured. Hisahide suddenly sent a force which attacked Yoshiteru's palace and killed the shogun. Yoshihide replaced the murdered potentate, and the Matsunaga family succeeded to the power previously wielded by the Miyoshi. Yoshiteru's younger brother, Yoshiaki, fled to Omi, but afterwards made his way to Owari, where Oda Nobunaga took him by the hand and ultimately placed him in the shogun's seat at Kyoto.


Among the fifteen representatives of the Ashikaga, two were slain by their own vassals, five died in exile, and one had to commit suicide. From the accession of Takauji, in 1338, to the death of Yoshiaki, in 1597, a period of 259

years, there was not so much as one decade of signal success and efficient government. With justice the story of the time has been summed up in the epithet "ge-koku-jo," or the overthrow of the upper by the lower. The appreciation of the eminent historian, Rai Sanyo, is most faithful. Every great conflict throughout the era was marked by similar features. It is a weary record of broken promises, violated allegiances, and family feuds. If the Hatakeyama, the Hosokawa, and the Miyoshi set their own interests above those of the shogun, the Ashikaga, in turn, sacrificed the interests of the Throne on the altar of their own ambition. A river cannot be purer than its source. If the Miyoshi vassals plotted against their chiefs, so did the latter against the Hosokawa; so did the Hosokawa against the Ashikaga; so did the Ashikaga against the Imperial family, and so did one branch of the Imperial family against another. Everywhere there was lack of loyalty.

The loyalty wanting among masters was equally deficient among servants. There is no more treacherous episode in the Middle Ages than Matsunaga Hisahide's poisoning of his liege lord to compass the downfall of the Miyoshi family and slaying the shogun, Yoshiteru, to overthrow the Ashikaga, though he enjoyed the confidence of both. The Dai Nihon-rekishi (History of Great Japan) observes that the ethical primers, with which a literary education had formerly familiarized the nation, lost their influence in this military era. There was no inordinate desire for landed property until the Gen-Hei epoch, when a manor became the principal reward of a successful soldier. Thereafter, greed for domains acquired strength every year. Again, when Yoritomo became so-tsuihoshi (commander-in-chief) and so-jito (general steward) of the whole country, and his meritorious vassals were appointed shugo and jito in each province, local authority passed from the Throne to the military families, and when, after the Shokyu struggle, the shugo and the jito came into actual possession of the estates they had previously administered, military feudalism was practically established. The Hojo, by their just administration and astute measures, brought this system into esteem, but under the Ashikaga regime the reality of landed possession grew to be the unique aim of existence, and, to achieve it, sons forgot their paternal relation and vassals lost sight of fealty. The nation engaged in an armed scramble; individualism became paramount, and social obligations were ignored. This is the more noteworthy because loyalty is so typical a Japanese virtue.

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