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Moreover, the Muromachi shogun was a
disciple and patron of the Zen sect of Buddhism, and the priests of
that sect always advocated peaceful intercourse with China, the
source of philosophic and literary learning.

All these considerations induced the Ashikaga chief not only to issue
orders for the restraint of the corsairs, but also to receive from
the Chinese Court despatches in which he was plainly designated the
king of a country tributary to China, and to make answer in language
unequivocally endorsing the propriety of such terminology. In one
despatch, dated February, 1403, Yoshimitsu described himself as a
"subject of Ming" and, "prostrate, begged to present twenty horses,
ten thousand catties of sulphur, thirty-two pieces of agate, three
gold-foil folding screens, one thousand lances, one hundred swords, a
suit of armour, and an ink-stone." It is recorded that he even
humbled himself so far as to ask for supplies of Chinese coins, and
certainly these comparatively pure copper tokens remained largely in
circulation in Japan down to Tokugawa times, under the name of
Eiraku-tsuho, Eiraku being the Japanese sound of the Chinese
year-period, Yunglo (1403-1422).

DEATH OF YOSHIMITSU

Yoshimitsu died in 1408. He was accorded by the Court the posthumous
rank of Dajo Tenno (ex-Emperor), a proof of the extraordinary
confusion of etiquette caused by his arrogant pretensions. The
Chinese sovereign, Yunglo, sent a message of sympathy to the Japanese
potentate's son, Yoshimochi, in which the deceased was designated
"Prince Kung-hsien," but Yoshimochi, though not distinguished for
ability, had sufficient wisdom ultimately to adopt the advice of the
kwanryo, Shiba Yoshimasa, and to decline the rank of Dajo Tenno, as
well as to break off relations with the Ming ruler. Yoshimochi also
handed over the magnificent edifice at Kita-yama to the Buddhist
priesthood.

THE EMPEROR SHOKO

In 1412, the Emperor Go-Komatsu abdicated in favour of his son Shoko
(101st sovereign), then twelve years old. This sovereign abandoned
himself to the profligacy of the era. It is doubtful whether his
reason was not unhinged. Some accounts say that he fell into a state
of lunacy; others, that he practised magic arts. At all events he
died childless in 1428, and was succeeded by a grandson of the
Emperor Suko, Go-Hanazono, then in his tenth year. Thus, the claims
of the Southern dynasty were ignored twice consecutively, and its
partisans made armed protests in the provinces, as has been already
noted. But these struggles proved abortive, and thereafter history is
no more troubled with such episodes. The Daikagu-ji line disappears
altogether from view, and the throne is occupied solely by
representatives of the Jimyo-in. There can be very little doubt that
the former was the legitimate branch; but fortune was against it.

YOSHIMOCHI, YOSHIKAZU, AND YOSHINORI

Yoshimochi, son of Yoshimitsu, became shogun (1395) at the age of
nine, and the administration was conducted by Hosokawa Mitsumoto,
Shiba Yoshishige, and Hatakeyama Mitsuiye. Twenty-eight years later,
that is to say, in 1423, he abdicated in favour of his son,
Yoshikazu. The cause of that step deserves notice. Yoshimitsu had
intended to pass over Yoshimochi, his first-born, in favour of his
second son, Yoshitsugu, but death prevented the consummation of that
design. Yoshimochi, however, knew that it had been entertained.
Therefore, after the death of their father, he seized Yoshitsugu,
threw him into prison, and ultimately caused him to be killed. With
the blood of his younger brother on his hands he abdicated in favour
of his own sixteen-year-old son, Yoshikazu. But the latter died--some
historians say that dissipation destroyed him--in two years, and
having no second son to succeed, Yoshimochi himself resumed the
office of shogun, holding it until his death, in 1428.

During his thirty-three years' tenure of power this ruler seems to
have aimed solely at enjoying the sweets of ease and tranquillity. He
left the provinces severely alone and thought only of the peace of
the metropolis. Turbulent displays on the part of self-appointed
partisans of the Southern Court; intrigues in the Kwanto; revolts
among his own immediate followers--all these things were treated by
Yoshimochi with gloved hands so long as the atmosphere of Kyoto was
not troubled. In 1428, he fell sick, and, the end being in sight, he
ordered his advisers to consult about his successor. Some advocated
the appointment of his kinsman, Mochiuji, governor-general of the
Kwanto, and Mochiuji himself prayed that it should be so. But the
choice ultimately fell on Yoshimochi's younger brother, Gien, who had
embraced religion and was then serving as abbot of the temple
Shoren-in.

This man, then in his thirty-fourth year, hesitated to accept the
nomination, but was induced to do so. He changed his name to
Yoshinori, and assuming the office in 1428, showed high talents and
great intrepidity. He was, in truth, a ruler as efficient as his
predecessor had been perfunctory. One of the most important events of
his time was the ruin of the Ashikaga Bakufu at Kamakura. Between
Kamakura and Muromachi there had been friction from an early date. We
have seen the second and third governors-general of the Kwanto,
Ujimitsu and Mitsukane, plotting to supplant the elder branch of
their family in Kyoto, and we have seen how the accession of the
priest, Yoshinori, had disappointed the ambition of the fourth
governor-general, Mochiuji, who, if unable to become shogun himself,
would fain have obtained that high office for his son, Yoshihisa.
Several years previously, namely, in 1417, there had occurred a feud
between the Yamanouchi and the Ogigayatsu branches of the Uesugi
family in the Kwanto, the former represented by Norimoto, the latter
by Ujinori. The Uesugi stood next to the Ashikaga at Kamakura, the
important office of manager (shitsuji) being invariably held by the
head of the former house. It would have been well-nigh impossible
therefore for the governor-general to view such a feud with
indifference. Mochiuji, then in his twentieth year, sympathized with
Norimoto, and in the sequel, Ujinori, with whom was allied Mochiuji's
younger brother, Mochinaka, took the field at the head of such a
force that the governor-general must have succumbed had not the
shogun, Yoshimochi, rendered aid.

This should have placed Kamakura under a heavy debt of gratitude to
Muromachi. But Mochiuji was not subject to such emotions. He rebelled
vehemently against the lenient treatment accorded to Ujinori's son
after their father's death, and the shogun had difficulty in
placating him. So long, however, as Yoshimochi ruled in Kyoto, the
Kamakura kwanrya abstained from further intrigues; but on the
accession of the sometime bonze, Yoshinori, to the shogunate, all
sense of restraint was removed. The governor-general now made no
attempt to conceal his hostility to the Muromachi shogun. Certain
family rights imperatively demanding reference to the shogun were not
so referred, and Mochiuji not only spurned the remonstrances of the
manager (shitsuji), Uesugi Norimoto, but even attempted to kill the
latter's son, Norizane. All efforts to reconcile the Kwanto and the
shitsuji proved futile, and Norizane had to flee to Kotsuke. No
sooner did these things come to the ears of the shogun, Yoshinori,
than he obtained an Imperial commission to quell the insurgents, and
placing an army under the orders of Mochifusa, a son of Ujinori,
directed him to march against Kamakura.

At first it seemed as if the Kamakura men would emerge victorious. At
the easily defended passes of Hakone they inflicted several
successive though not signal defeats upon Mochifusa's army. But the
appearance of Norizane in the field quickly changed the complexion of
the campaign. Very soon the Kamakura force was shattered, and
Mochiuji himself fled to the temple Shomyo-ji in Kanazawa, where he
begged to be allowed to retire from the world. But the shogun
declined to pardon him and remained obdurate in spite of earnest and
repeated petitions from Norizane, praying that Mochiuji should be
forgiven and allowed to retire in favour of his son, Yoshihisa. In
the end, Mochiuji, his son, his uncle, and many others all died by
their own hands. These things happened in 1439. The redeeming feature
of the sombre family feud was the fine loyalty of Norizane. Though it
had been against him chiefly that Mochiuji raged, and though his
death was certain had he fallen under the power of the Kamakura
kwanryo, Mochiuji's fate caused him such remorse that he attempted to
commit suicide and finally became a priest. Thenceforth, the title of
governor-general of the Kwanto passed to the Uesugi, two of whom were
appointed to act simultaneously. As for the Kamakura Ashikaga, the
three remaining sons of Mochiuji fled to Koga in Shimosa, where two
of them were subsequently killed by a Kamakura army, and the third,
Shigeuji, fared as has already been described.

ASSASSINATION OF THE SHOGUN

It has been shown that Akamatsu Norimura was among the captains who
contributed most to the triumph of the Ashikaga cause. In recognition
of his distinguished services the offices of high constable in the
five provinces of Settsu, Inaba, Harima, Mimasaka, and Bizen were
given to his three sons. Mitsusuke, grandson of the eldest of these,
administered three of the above provinces in the days of the fourth
Ashikaga shogun, Yoshimochi. A puny man of contemptible presence,
Mitsusuke received little consideration at Muromachi, and the shogun
was induced to promise his office of high constable to a handsome
kinsman, Mochisada. Enraged at such partiality, Mitsusuke set fire to
his mansion in Kyoto and withdrew to his castle at Shirahata in
Harima. When, however, the shogun would have sent an army against
him, none was found to take command, Mochisada having given universal
offence by his haughty arrogance. In the sequel, Mitsusuke had to be
pardoned and Mochisada ordered to kill himself.

After the death of the shogun, Yoshimochi, Mitsusuke fell into fresh
trouble.



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