Ashikaga Takauji


Ashikaga Takauji

was the founder and 1st shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate. His rule began in 1338, beginning the Muromachi period of Japan, and ended with his death in 1358. He was a descendant of the samurai of the (Minamoto) Seiwa Genji line, descended from Emperor Seiwa, that had settled in Ashikaga area of Shimotsuke Province which is in present day Tochigi Prefecture.

Takauji was a general of the Kamakura shogunate sent to Kyoto in 1333 to put down the Genko Rebellion which had started in 1331. After becoming increasingly disillusioned with the shogunate over time, Takauji joined the banished Emperor Go-Daigo and Kusunoki Masashige and seized Kyoto. Soon after, Nitta Yoshisada attacked Kamakura and finally destroyed the shogunate and Emperor Go-Daigo became the "de facto" ruler of Japan, reestablishing the primacy of the imperial court in Kyoto and starting the Kemmu restoration.

However, shortly thereafter, the samurai clans became increasingly disillusioned with reestablished imperial court which sought to return to the social and political systems of the Heian period. Sensing their discontent, Takauji pleaded with the emperor to do something before rebellion would break out, however his warnings were ignored.

Hōjō Tokiyuki, son of the 14th Hōjō regent Hōjō Takatoki, took the opportunity to start the Nakasendai rebellion ("Nakasendai no Ran") to try to reestablish the shogunate at Kamakura in 1335. Takauji put down the rebellion and took Kamakura for himself. Taking up the cause of his fellow samurai, he claimed the title of "Seii Taishogun" and allotted land to his followers without permission from the court. Takauji announced his allegiance to the imperial court, but Go-Daigo sent Nitta Yoshisada to reclaim Kamakura.

Meeting at the Battle of Hakone Take no Shita, Takauji defeated Yoshisada and afterwards marched all the way to Kyoto. He captured it only to be driven out and to Kyūshū by the regrouped forces of Yoshisada with Masashige. Takauji allied himself with the clans native to Kyūshū and again marched to Kyoto. At the decisive Battle of Minato River in 1336, Takauji defeated Yoshisada and killed Masashige, allowing him to seize Kyoto for good. Emperor Kōmyō was installed as emperor beginning the turbulent Northern and Southern Court period ("Nanboku-chō") which would last for almost 60 more years.

Emperor Go-Daigo also gave him the ranks of "Chinjufu-shogun", or Commander-in-chief of the Defense of the North and the courtly title of the Fourth Rank, Junior Grade. [Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). [http://books.google.com/books?id=18oNAAAAIAAJ&pg=PP9&dq=nipon+o+dai+itsi+ran#PRA1-PA290,M1 "Annales des Empereurs du Japon," p. 290.] ]

Significant events shape the period during which Takauji was shogun:
* 1338 — Takauji appointed shogun.Ackroyd, Joyce. (1982) "Lessons from History: The Tokushi Yoron, p.329.]
* 1349 — Go-Murakami flees to A'no; Ashikaga Tadayoshi and Kō no Moronao quarrel; Ashikaga Mochiuji appointed Kamakura Kanryō. [see above] ]
* 1350 — Tadayoshi, excluded from administration, turns priest; [see above] ] Tadayoshi's adopted son, Ashikaga Tadafuyu is wrongly repudiated as a rebel. [Historiographical Institute: [http://www.hi.u-tokyo.ac.jp/IRIKI/ETXT/eng_text98.html "Ashikaga Tadafuyu's Call to Arms,"] "Dai Nihon shi-ryō", VI, xiv, 43.]
* 1351-58 — Struggle for Kyoto.
* 1351 — Tadayoshi joins Southern Court, southern army takes Kyoto; truce, Takauji returns to Kyoto; Tadayoshi and Takauji reconciled; Kō no Moronao and Kō no Moroyasu are exiled. [see above] ]
*1352 — Tadayoshi dies, southern army recaptures Kyoto; Nitta Yoshimune captures Kamakura; Ashikaga forces recapture Kamakura and Kyoto; Tadafuyu joins Southern Court; Yamana Tokiuji joins Tadafuyu. [see above] ]
* 1353 — Kyoto retaken by southern forces under Yamana Tokiuji] ; retaken by Ashikaga. [see above] ]
* 1354 — Takauji flees with Go-Kōgon; Kitabatake Chikafusa dies. [see above] ]
* 1355 — Kyoto taken by southern army; Kyoto retaken by Ashikaga forces. [see above] ]
* 1358 — Takauji dies. [Titsingh, [http://books.google.com/books?id=18oNAAAAIAAJ&pg=PP9&dq=nipon+o+dai+itsi+ran#PRA1-PA304,M1 p. 304.] ]

Takauji's son Ashikaga Yoshiakira succeeded him as shogun after his death. His grandson Ashikaga Yoshimitsu united the Northern and Southern courts in 1392.

The story of Ashikaga Takauji, Emperor Go-Daigo, Nitta Yoshisada, and Kusunoki Masashige from the Genko rebellion to the establishment of the Northern and Southern Courts is detailed in the 40 volume Muromachi period epic "Taiheiki".

Eras of Takauji's "bakufu"

The years in which Takauji is shogun are more specifically identified by more than one era name or "nengō". [Titsingh, [http://books.google.com/books?id=18oNAAAAIAAJ&pg=PP9&dq=nipon+o+dai+itsi+ran#PRA1-PA290,M1 p. 290] -304.]

:"Nanboku-chō" southern court
*Eras as reckoned by legitimate Court (as determined by Meiji rescript):
** "Engen" (1336-1340)
** "Kōkoku" (1340-1346)
** "Shōhei" (1346-1370)

:"Nanboku-chō" northern Court
*Eras as reckoned by pretender Court (as determined by Meiji rescript):
** "Ryakuō" (1338-1342)
** "Kōei" (1342-1345)
** "Jōwa" (1345-1350)
** "Kan'ō" (1350-1352)
** "Bunna" (1352-1356)
** "Enbun" (1356-1361)

Notes

References

* Ackroyd, Joyce. (1982) "Lessons from History: The Tokushi Yoron." Brisbane: University of Queensland Press. 10-ISBN 0-702-21485-X; 13-ISBN 978-0-702-21485-1 (cloth)
* Titsingh, Isaac, ed. (1834), [Siyun-sai Rin-siyo/Hayashi Gahō, 1652] , "Nipon o daï itsi ran; ou, Annales des empereurs du Japon." Paris: Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. [http://books.google.com/books?id=18oNAAAAIAAJ&dq=nipon+o+dai+itsi+ran --"Two copies of this rare book have now been made available online: (1) from the library of the University of Michigan, digitized January 30, 2007; and (2) from the library of Stanford University, digitized June 23, 2006." Click here to read the original text in French.]


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