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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Yoshiaki returned to the capital

Nobunaga omitted nothing that could make for the dignity and comfort of the new shogun. He caused a palace to be erected for him on the site of the former Nijo Castle, contributions being levied for the purpose on the five provinces of the Kinai as well as on six others; and Nobunaga himself personally supervised the work, which was completed in May, 1569. But it may fairly be doubted whether Nobunaga acted in all this matter with sincerity. At the outset his attitude towards the shogun was so respectful and so considerate that Yoshiaki learned to regard and speak of him as a father. But presently Nobunaga presented a memorial, charging the shogun with faults which were set forth in seventeen articles. In this impeachment, Yoshiaki was accused of neglecting his duties at Court; of failing to propitiate the territorial nobles; of partiality in meting out rewards and punishments; of arbitrarily confiscating private property; of squandering money on needless enterprises; of listening to flatterers; of going abroad in the disguise of a private person, and so forth. It is claimed by some of Nobunaga's biographers that he was perfectly honest in presenting this memorial, but others, whose judgment appears to be more perspicacious, consider that his chief object was to discredit Yoshiaki and thus make room for his own subsequent succession to the shogunate.

At all events Yoshiaki interpreted the memorial in that sense. He became openly hostile to Nobunaga, and ultimately took up arms. Nobunaga made many attempts to conciliate him. He even sent Hideyoshi to solicit Yoshiaki's return to Kyoto from Kawachi whither the shogun had fled. But Yoshiaki, declining to be placated, placed himself under the protection of the Mori family, and thus from the year 1573, Nobunaga became actual wielder of the shogun's authority. Ten years later, Yoshiaki returned to the capital, took the tonsure and changed his name to Shozan. At the suggestion of Hideyoshi a title and a yearly income of ten thousand koku were conferred on him. He died in Osaka and thus ended the Ashikaga shogunate.


One of the incidents connected with Hideyoshi's administration in Kyoto illustrates the customs of his time. Within eight miles of the city of Osaka lies Sakai, a great manufacturing mart. This latter town, though originally forming part of the Ashikaga domain, nevertheless assisted the Miyoshi in their attack upon the shogunate. Nobunaga, much enraged at such action, proposed to sack the town, but Hideyoshi asked to have the matter left in his hands. This request being granted, he sent messengers to Sakai, who informed the citizens that Nobunaga contemplated the destruction of the town by fire. Thereupon the citizens, preferring to die sword in hand rather than to be cremated, built forts and made preparations for resistance.

This was just what Hideyoshi designed. Disguising himself, he repaired to Sakai and asked to be informed as to the object of these military preparations. Learning the apprehensions of the people, he ridiculed their fears; declared that Nobunaga had for prime object the safety and peace of the realm, and that by giving ear to such wild rumours and assuming a defiant attitude, they had committed a fault not to be lightly condoned. Delegates were then sent from Sakai at Hideyoshi's suggestion to explain the facts to Nobunaga, who acted his part in the drama by ordering the deputies to be thrown into prison and promising to execute them as well as their fellow townsmen. In this strait the people of Sakai appealed to a celebrated Buddhist priest named Kennyo, and through his intercession Hideyoshi agreed to ransom the town for a payment of twenty thousand ryo. The funds thus obtained were devoted to the repair of the palaces of the Emperor and the shogun, a measure which won for Nobunaga the applause of the whole of Kyoto.

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