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The strategy he used was not his own free choice
nor were the battles he fought contrived by himself. But his devotion
to the Imperial cause, his unfailing loyalty, and his indifference to
self-interest have kept his memory fresh and will always keep it
fresh. If, two hundred years after his death, a chieftain was born of
his blood to carry the Minamoto name to the pinnacle of glory, who
shall say that heaven did not thus answer the prayer put up by
Yoshisada at the shrine of Hiyoshi?"

DEATH OF GO-DAIGO

During these events, Go-Daigo sojourned at Yoshino, which was
protected by Kusunoki Masatsura, Wada Masatomo, and others. At the
close of August, 1339, his Majesty falling ill, and feeling that his
end was near, resigned the throne to his twelve-year-old son, the
Crown Prince Yoshinaga, whose historical name is Go-Murakami.
Go-Daigo's will declared that his only regret in leaving the world
was his failure to effect the restoration, and that though his body
was buried at Yoshino, his spirit would always yearn for Kyoto.
Tradition says that he expired holding a sword in his right hand, the
Hokke-kyo-sutra in his left, and that Kitabatake Chikafusa spoke of
the event as a dream within a dream.

It is recorded to Ashikaga Takauji's credit that, when the news
reached Kyoto, he ordered five days' mourning; that he himself
undertook to transcribe a sacred volume by way of supplication for
the repose of Go-Daigo's spirit, and that he caused a temple to be
built for the same purpose. Of course, these events cast a cloud over
the fortunes of the Southern Court, but its adherents did not abate
their activities. Everywhere they mustered in greater or less force.
The clearest conception of their strength may be obtained by
tabulating the names of their families and of the latter's
localities:

FAMILIES PROVINCES

Kitabatake Mutsu and Ise

Nitta Musashi, Shimotsuke, Echizen

Kusunoki Kawachi

Kojima, Sakurayama, Arii, Yoshikawa Sanyo-do

Nawa and Misumi Sanin-do

Kikuchi, Matsura, Kusano Saikai-do

Doi, Tokuno, Yuasa, Yamamoto Nankai-do

Ii Totomi

Neo Mino

Shinto officials Atsuta

This table suggests that partisans of the Southern Court existed in
almost every part of the empire. So, in truth, they did. But friends
of the Northern Court existed also, and thus it resulted that at no
time throughout the fifty-five years of the struggle were the
provinces free from strife. It resulted also that frequent changes of
allegiance took place, for a family had often to choose between total
ruin, on the one hand, and comparative prosperity at the sacrifice of
constancy, on the other. Some historians have adduced the incidents
of this era as illustrating the shallowness of Japanese loyalty. But
it can scarcely be said that loyalty was ever seriously at stake. In
point of legitimacy there was nothing to choose between the rival
branches of the Imperial family. A samurai might-pass from the
service of the one to that of the other without doing any violence to
his reverence for the Throne.

What was certainly born of the troubled era, however, was a sentiment
of contempt for central authority and a disposition to rely on one's
own right arm. It could not have been otherwise. In several provinces
official nominees of both Courts administered simultaneously, and men
were requisitioned for aid, to-day, to the Northern cause, to-morrow,
to the Southern. To be strong enough to resist one or the other was
the only way to avoid ruinous exactions. From that to asserting one's
strength at the expense of a neighbour who followed a different flag
was a short step, if not a duty, and thus purely selfish
considerations dictated a fierce quarrel and inspired many an act of
unscrupulous spoliation. A few cases are on record of families which
resorted to the device of dividing themselves into two branches, each
declaring for a different cause and each warring nominally with the
other. Thus the sept as a whole preserved its possessions, in part at
any rate, whichever Court triumphed. But such double-faced schemes
were very rare. A much commoner outcome of the situation was the
growth of powerful families which regulated their affairs by means of
a council of leading members without reference to Kamakura, Kyoto, or
Yoshino. At the same time, minor septs in the neighbourhood saw the
advantage of subscribing to the decisions of these councils and
deferring to their judgments.

"This was an important step in the development of the feudal system.
Another was the abolition of feudal fiefs, as well as of the
succession of women to real estate, and a curtailment of the
inheritance, not so much of younger sons, as of all sons except the
one selected as lord of the clan."* The shugo (high constables) also
became a salient element of feudalism. Originally liable to frequent
transfers of locality, some of them subsequently came to hold their
office hereditarily, and these, together with the great majority of
their confreres who had been appointed by the Bakufu, espoused the
Ashikaga cause; a choice which impelled many of the military families
in their jurisdiction to declare for the Southern Court. The Ashikaga
shugo ultimately became leading magnates, for they wielded twofold
authority, namely, that derived from their power as owners of broad
estates, and that derived from their commission as shogun's delegates
entitled to levy taxes locally. The provincial governors, at the
outset purely civil officials, occasionally developed military
capacity and rivalled the hereditary shugo in armed influence, but
such instances were rare.

*Murdoch's History of Japan.

THE COURSE OF THE WAR

After the death of Kusunoki Masashige, of Nitta Yoshisada, and of
Kitabatake Akiiye, the strategical direction of the war devolved
mainly upon Kitabatake Chikafusa, so far as the Southern Court was
concerned. The greater part of the nation may be said to have been in
arms, but only a small section took actual part in the main campaign,
the troops in the distant provinces being occupied with local
struggles. Chikafusa's general plan was to menace Kyoto and Kamakura
simultaneously. Just as the eight provinces of the Kwanto formed the
base of the Ashikaga armies, so the eight provinces constituting the
Kii peninsula--Yamato, Kawachi, Izumi, Ise, Iga, Shima, Kii (in
part), and Omi (in part)--served as bases for the partisans of the
South. To strike at Kyoto from this base required the previous
subjugation of Settsu, and, on the other hand, a strong army in
Settsu menaced Yoshino.

Chikafusa's plan, then, was to marshal in Kawachi force sufficient to
threaten, if not to overrun, Settsu, and then to push on into the
metropolitan province from Omi and Iga, the Ashikaga having been
previously induced to uncover Kyoto by the necessity of guarding
Kamakura. From the Kii peninsula the obvious route to the Kwanto is
by sea. Therefore, the Southerners established a naval base at
Shingu, on the east coast of the peninsula, and used it for the
purpose not only of despatching a force northward, but also of
maintaining communications with Shikoku and Kyushu, where they had
many partisans. Chikafusa himself led the oversea expedition to the
Kwanto, but the flotilla was wrecked by a storm, and he reached Yedo
Bay with only a small following. Nevertheless, he established himself
at Oda, in Hitachi, and being there joined by many of the Ashikaga's
enemies, he managed, not indeed to seriously menace Kamakura, but at
all events to give occupation to a large force of the Northerners.
Driven out at last (1343), after more than four years' operations, he
returned to Yoshino, where he found Kusunoki Masatsura, son of
Masashige, carrying on from Kawachi a vigorous campaign against the
Ashikaga in Settsu.

After many minor engagements, in all of which he was successful,
Masatsura inflicted such a severe defeat on his opponents at
Sumiyoshi that the Bakufu became alarmed, and mustering an army of
sixty thousand men, sent it under Ko Moronao and his brother,
Moroyasu, to attack Masatsura. This was in December, 1347. Then
Masatsura and his younger brother, Masatoki, together with Wada
Katahide and other bushi, to the number of 140, made oath to conquer
in fight or to die. They repaired to Yoshino, and having taken leave
of the Emperor, Go-Murakami, they worshipped at the shrine of the
late sovereign, Go-Daigo, inscribed their names upon the wall, and
wrote under them:

We that our bows here
Swear nevermore to slacken
Till in the land of life we
Cease to be counted,
Our names now record.

It was in February, 1348, that the battle took place at Shijo-nawate
in Kawachi. Moronao had sixty thousand men at his disposal; Masatsura
only three thousand. The combat raged during six hours, the Kusunoki
brothers leading thirty charges, until finally they were both covered
with wounds, and only fifty men remained out of the sworn band. Then
this remnant committed suicide. Moronao, following up his victory,
marched into Yamato, and set fire to the palace there. Go-Murakami
escaped to Kanao, and presently the Nitta family in the east and the
Kitabatake in the west showed such activity that the Southern cause
recovered its vitality, a turn of events largely promoted by
dissensions in the Northern camp and by the consequent return of
Moronao's forces to Kyoto. It is necessary, therefore, to direct our
eyes for a moment to the course of affairs on the side of the
Ashikaga.

THE ASHIKAGA POLITY

Ashikaga Takauji's original idea was to follow the system of Yoritomo
in everything. Kamakura was to be his capital and he assumed the
title of shogun. This was in 1335. Three years later he received the
shogunate in due form from the Northern sovereign, Komyo. But he now
discovered that Kyoto must be his headquarters so long as the War of
the Dynasties lasted, and he therefore established the Bakufu at
Muromachi in that city, modelling it on the lines of Yoritomo's
institution, but dispensing with a regent (shikkeri) and substituting
for him a second shitsuji.



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