Best books online Library

Your last book:

You dont read books at this site.

Total books on site: 11 280

You can read and download its for free!

Browse books by author: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 

Text on one page: Few Medium Many
But a bamboo grew on the margin, and climbing up this, he
found that it bent with his weight so as to form a bridge. He reached
Kyoto in safety and ultimately attained the high post (chunagon)
which his father had held.

THE SUCCESSION TO THE THRONE

The year 1326 witnessed the decease of the Crown Prince, Kuninaga,
who represented the senior branch of the Imperial family. Thereupon,
Go-Daigo conceived the project of appointing his own son, Morinaga,
to be Prince Imperial. That would have given the sceptre twice in
succession to the junior branch, and the Bakufu regent, insisting
that the rule of alternate succession must be followed, proposed to
nominate Prince Kazuhito, a son of the cloistered Emperor,
Go-Fushimi, who belonged to the senior branch. The question was
vehemently discussed at Kamakura, Go-Daigo being represented by
Fujiwara no Fujifusa, and Go-Fushimi by another noble. The former
contended that never since the days of Jimmu had any subject dared to
impose his will on the Imperial family. Go-Saga's testament had
clearly provided the order of succession to the throne, yet the
Bakufu had ventured to set that testament aside and had dictated the
system of alternate succession. Thus, the princes of the elder branch
not only became eligible for the throne, but also enjoyed great
revenues from the Ghokodo estate, though it had been bequeathed as a
solatium for exclusion from the succession; whereas the princes of
the junior branch, when not occupying the throne, were without a foot
of land or the smallest source of income. Fujifusa was instructed to
claim that the usufruct of the Chokodo estate should alternate in the
same manner as the succession, or that the latter should be
perpetually vested in the junior branch. To this just demand the
regent, Takatoki, refused to accede. Kazuhito was named Prince
Imperial, and thus the seeds of a sanguinary struggle were sown.

CONSPIRACY IN KYOTO

Go-Daigo now conspired actively for the overthrow of the Hojo. He
took Prince Morinaga into his confidence, and, under the name Oto no
Miya, made him lord-abbot of the great monastery of Hiei-zan, thus
securing at once a large force of soldier cenobites. To the same end
other religious establishments were successfully approached. During
the space of five years this plot escaped Kamakura's attention. But,
in 1331, the Bakufu, becoming suspicious, laid hands on several of
the plotters and, subjecting them to judicial examination after the
merciless fashion of the age, soon elicited a part, at any rate, of
the truth. Yet Kamakura does not appear to have appreciated the
situation until, Go-Daigo having summoned the Enryaku monks to his
assistance, the cloistered Emperor of the senior branch, Go-Fushimi,
despatched an urgent message to the Bakufu, declaring that unless
prompt action were taken the situation would elude control.

Hasty council was now held in Kamakura. Nagasaki Takasuke, the
corrupt kwanryo, advised that Go-Daigo should be dethroned and sent
into exile, together with Oto no Miya, and that all implicated in the
plot should be severely punished. This violent course was opposed by
Nikaido Sadafusa, who pleaded eloquently for the respect due to the
Throne, and contended that without the sovereign's favour the Bakufu
could not exist. But Takasuke's advice prevailed, re-enforced as it
was by reference to the Shokyu disturbance when vigorous daring had
won the day. With all possible expedition an army under the command
of Sadafusa marched from Kamakura for Kyoto. Advised of these doings,
Prince Morinaga persuaded the Emperor to change costumes with
Fujiwara Morokata; whereafter the latter, riding in the Imperial
palanquin, took ostensible refuge at Hiei-zan, and the sovereign,
travelling in a Court lady's ox-car, made his way, first, to Nara and
thence to Kasagi in Yamato, guarded by the troops of Fujiwara
Fujifusa. Rokuhara was then under the command of Hojo Nakatoki, and
upon him devolved the duty of seizing the Emperor's person. He
directed an army against Hiei-zan, where Go-Daigo was believed to
have found asylum. But Fujiwara Morokata, who personified the
sovereign, managed to escape, as did also Prince Morinaga (Oto no
Miya). Go-Daigo then sent to Kusunoki Masashige a mandate to raise
troops and move against the "rebels," for to that category the Hojo
now belonged in the absence of an Imperial commission.

This Kusunoki Masashige (called Nanko) is one of Japan's ideal types
of loyalty and courage. He and Nitta Yoshisada are the central
figures in the long campaign upon which Japan now entered. Masashige
belonged to the Tachibana family, which stood second among the four
great septs of Japan--the Fujiwara, the Tachibana, the Minamoto, and
the Taira--and Yoshisada claimed kinship with the Minamoto. Receiving
Go-Daigo's order, Kusunoki Masashige quickly collected a troop of
local bushi and constructed entrenchments at Akasaka, a naturally
strong position in his native province of Kawachi. Takatoki now
caused Prince Kazuhito to be proclaimed sovereign under the name of
Kogon. But this monarch was not destined to find a place among the
recognized occupants of the throne. For a time, indeed, fortune
smiled on the Hojo. Within a few days after Kogon's assumption of the
sceptre, Go-Daigo's retreat at Kasagi became untenable, and he fled,
still escorted by the faithful Fujiwara Fujifusa. It must be
recognized that, whatever the Fujiwara family's usurpations in the
past, their loyalty to the Throne throughout this era of cruel
vicissitudes redeems a multitude of sins.

During his flight from Kasagi, the Emperor was without food for three
days, and had to sleep with a rock for pillow. Overtaken by the
Rokuhara troops, his Majesty was placed in a bamboo palanquin and
carried to the temple Byodoin, where, after the battle of the Uji
Bridge, the aged statesman and general, Yorimasa, had fallen by his
own hand, a century and a half previously. Here Go-Daigo received a
peremptory order to surrender the Imperial insignia to the Hojo
nominee, Kogon. He refused. The mirror and gem, he alleged, had been
lost, and there remained only the sacred sword, which he kept to
defend himself against the traitors when they fell upon him. The high
courage of this answer would have been finer had Go-Daigo's statement
been true; but in reality the three insignia were intact. It was then
announced to his Majesty that he should be removed to Rokuhara where
he would be entirely in the power of the Hojo. Nevertheless, he
maintained his lofty bearing, and refused to make the journey unless
all appropriate forms of etiquette were observed. At Rokuhara the
demand for the insignia was repeated and the Emperor handed over
duplicates, secretly retaining the genuine articles himself. Takatoki
now issued orders for Go-Daigo to be removed to the island of Oki,
sent all the members of his family into exile elsewhere, and banished
or killed his principal supporters.

RAISING OF A LOYAL ARMY

Kusunoki Masashige had but five hundred men under his command when he
entrenched himself at Akasaka. There for twenty days he held out
against the attacks of the greatly superior Hojo forces, until
finally, no help arriving and his provisions being exhausted, he
would have committed suicide had he not realized that his life
belonged to the Imperial cause. He contrived to escape through the
enemy's lines, and thus the only organized loyal force that remained
in the field was that operating in Bingo under the command of
Sakurayama Koretoshi. Thither a false rumour of Masashige's death
having been carried, Koretoshi's troops dispersed and he himself
committed suicide. Kojima Takanori, too, commonly known as Bingo no
Saburo, was about to raise the banner of loyalty when the false news
of Masashige's death reached him. This Takanori is the hero of an
incident which appeals strongly to the Japanese love of the romantic.
Learning that the Emperor was being transported into exile in the
island of Oki, and having essayed to rescue him en route, he made his
way during the night into the enclosure of the inn where the Imperial
party had halted, and having scraped off part of the bark of a cherry
tree, he inscribed on the trunk the couplet:

Heaven destroy not Kou Chien,
He is not without a Fan Li.

This alluded to an old-time Chinese king (Kou Chien) who, after
twenty years of exile, was restored to power by the efforts of a
vassal (Fan Li). The Emperor's guards, being too illiterate to
comprehend the reference, showed the writing to Go-Daigo, who thus
learned that friends were at hand. But Takanori could not accomplish
anything more, and for a season the fortunes of the Throne were at a
very low ebb, while at Kamakura the regent resumed his life of
debauchery. Neither Prince Morinaga nor Masashige was idle, however.
By skilful co-operation they recovered the entrenchments at Akasaka
and overran the two provinces of Izumi and Kawachi, gaining many
adherents. The fall of 1332 saw Masashige strongly posted at the
Chihaya fortress on Kongo Mountain; his lieutenants holding Akasaka;
Prince Morinaga in possession of Yoshino Castle, and Akamatsu
Norimura of Harima blocking the two highways called the Sanindo and
the Sanyodo.

In other words, the Imperialists held the group of provinces forming
the northern littoral of the Inland Sea and commanded the approaches
from the south. But now again Kamakura put forth its strength. At the
close of February, 1333, a numerous force under the Hojo banners
attacked Yoshino and its fall became inevitable. Prince Morinaga,
wounded in several places, had resolved to make the castle his
"death-pillow," when he was saved by one of those acts of heroic
devotion so frequently recorded in the annals of the Japanese bushi.
Murakami Yoshiteru insisted on donning the prince's armour and
personating him so as to cover his retreat. At the supreme moment,
Yoshiteru ascended the tower of the entrenchments and loudly
proclaiming himself the prince, committed suicide. His son would fain
have shared his fate, but Yoshiteru bade him live for further
service.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | 143 | | 144 | | 145 | | 146 | | 147 | | 148 | | 149 | | 150 | | 151 | | 152 | | 153 | | 154 | | 155 | | 156 | | 157 | | 158 | | 159 | | 160 | | 161 | | 162 | | 163 | | 164 | | 165 | | 166 | | 167 | | 168 | | 169 | | 170 | | 171 | | 172 | | 173 | | 174 | | 175 | | 176 | | 177 | | 178 | | 179 | | 180 | | 181 | | 182 | | 183 | | 184 | | 185 | | 186 | | 187 | | 188 | | 189 | | 190 | | 191 | | 192 | | 193 | | 194 | | 195 | | 196 | | 197 | | 198 | | 199 | | 200 | | 201 | | 202 | | 203 | | 204 | | 205 | | 206 | | 207 | | 208 | | 209 | | 210 | | 211 | | 212 | | 213 | | 214 | | 215 | | 216 | | 217 | | 218 | | 219 | | 220 | | 221 | | 222 | | 223 | | 224 | | 225 | | 226 | | 227 | | 228 | | 229 | | 230 | | 231 | | 232 | | 233 | | 234 | | 235 | | 236 | | 237 | | 238 | | 239 | | 240 | | 241 | | 242 | | 243 | | 244 | | 245 | | 246 | | 247 | | 248 | | 249 | | 250 | | 251 | | 252 | | 253 | | 254 | | 255 | | 256 | | 257 | | 258 | | 259 | | 260 | | 261 | | 262 | | 263 | | 264 | | Next |