The Meitoku Settlement (明徳の和約)

The Meitoku Settlement was the agreement held in 1392 between the Southern Court (Daikakuji Imperial Line) and the Northern Court (Jimyoin Imperial Line) in terms of peace negotiation and the Imperial succession. It is also called Genchu Itto.

According to this agreement, Emperor Gokameyama of the Southern Court came back from Yoshino to Kyoto on 5 October in the same year (November 19, 1392 according to the Julian calendar) and he returned the three sacred treasures to Emperor Gokomatsu of the Northern Court, he then abdicated from the position and the Northern and the Southern Courts unified into one. Due to this agreement, the period of the Northern and Southern Courts, the separation of Japanese Emperor's position and the Imperial Palace ended as of 1336.

The conflict that continued for more than fifty years between the Northern and the Southern Court was gradually ended with the dominant position favoring the Northern Court, as Takauji ASHIKAGA gradually established the Northern Court and opened the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by shogun) and controlled the Samurai all over Japan, although the Southern Court once was in the dominant position and nearly took the political power from the Northern Court (Shohei Itto). Especially during the era of the third Seii Taishogun (literally "great general who subdues the barbarians"), Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, his political power was absolute and Masakatsu KUSUNOKI lost the battle in 1392 and Kawachi Chihaya-jo Castle was surrended. The Southern Court was forced to escape to the area around Yoshino or some were forced to go to the countryside.

In 1391, at Meitoku War, Yoshimitsu weakened the Shugo daimyo (military governor turned daimyo), the Yamana clan and took complete control of the Samurai forces, and then started serious negotiation with the help of Yoshihiro OUCHI, who was military officer of Izumi Province, Kii Province and who had private estate next to the Southern Court. After there were three agreements settled such as passing the three sacred treasures from the Southern Court to the Northern Court, a governorship that was to belong to the Daikakuji Imperial line and the Chokodo possessions were to belong to the Jimyoin Imperial line, and Imperial succession would be shared by both Courts, (Emperor Gokameyama's son, Oguranomiya Imperial Prince Sanehito was going to become Crown Prince) in 1392 Emperor Gokameyama went to Kyoto to see Emperor Gokomatsu at the Daikaku-ji Temple, and to pass the three sacred treasures, there was the unity of the Southern and Northern Courts, although Imperial succession was succeeded by the Northern Court this time, not by the Southern Court. Some court nobles belonging to the Southern Court were appointed as government officials in the Northern Court, however most of the positions were filled with members from Northern Court, many of those court nobles from the Southern Court were not able to return to the society of the court nobles.

However after Emperor Gokomatsu's Prince, Emperor Shoko succeeded to the throne in 1412, the agreement on sharing the succession to the throne was cancelled. Furthermore, although the direct line of descent from the Jimyoin Imperial lineage was discontinued after Emperor Shoko died, the Northern Court appointed Emperor Gohanazono from a branch family, the Fushiminomiya family, again the agreement was not being honored in the proper manner. The descendants or aides from the Southern Court who were against this, continued to fight against the Imperial Palace and the bakufu until the end of the fifteenth century. This was called the post Southern Court Period.

[Original Japanese]