Akamatsu clan (赤松氏)

The Akamatsu clan was a daimyo (Japanese feudal lord), who ruled the Harima Province during the late Kamakura to Azuchi-Momoyama periods. The clan contributed to toppling the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) as well as setting up the Muromachi bakufu, and enjoyed the domination as one of the shugo daimyo (Shugo, which were Japanese provincial military governors, that became daimyo, which were Japanese feudal lords). Later, it provoked the Kakitsu War and was also involved in the Onin War, in consequence, causing the arrival of the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States) (Japan).

From the origin to the Muromachi period

According to a legend, Murakami Genji (Minamoto clan) MINAMOTO no Suefusa (or Suekata) was deported to Sayo-so (estate) in Harima Province, and when Ienori, the heir of Norikage UNO who was the descendant of Suefusa (or Sukekata) became the Jito-daikan (deputy jito [estate steward]) in Akamatsu-mura Village, Ienori began to proclaim 'the Akamatsu clan' (Dubious authenticity.)
However, similar to the case of Nagatoshi NAWA, there is no document that confirms the lineage from Suefusa to Norikage, and recently, there is a theory arguing that Norimura AKAMATSU (Enshin AKAMATSU) was allowed to proclaim himself as a descendant of the Murakami-Genji (Minamoto clan) when joining the Emperor Godaigo side because of the connection with Chikafusa KITABATAKE, and since the Kitabatake family belonged to the Murakami-Genji (Minamoto clan).
(Self-proclaimed Murakami-Genji [Minamoto clan])

Entering the period of the Northern and Southern Courts, under an excellent military commander Enshin AKAMATSU, the clan supported Takauji ASHIKAGA, who estranged from the Kenmu Restoration, due to being deprived of the province where he ruled as a provincial constable in the Kenmu Restoration carried out by the Emperor Godaigo. While Takauji withdrew westward to Kyushu on the backfoot, the clan blocked the force of Yoshisada NITTA at Shirahata-jo Castle in Ako County, and in the Battle of Minato-gawa River in 1336, its performance became an underlying cause to Takauji's victory.

Enshin's son, Norisuke AKAMATSU contributed to consolidating the Muromachi bakufu by such ways as assisting the second Shogun Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA and Kanrei (a shogunal deputy) Yoriyuki HOSOKAWA, and rescuing and protecting infant Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA at his home base castle when Kyoto was temporally occupied by the Southern Court side. For these distinguished services, the Akamatsu clan was appointed to Shugo (constable) of the Harima Province, and also raised to one of the four distinguished posts, comparable to those of the Kyogoku clan, the Isshiki clan, and the Yamana clan to participate in the shogunate administration in the Muromachi bakufu.

Enshin's first son, Norisuke AKAMATSU was appointed to Shugo (military governor) of Settsu Province, the second son, Sadanori AKAMATSU was appointed to Shugo of Mimasaka Province, and the third son, Norisuke AKAMATSU was appointed to Shugo of Bizen Province, respectively, and the clan resulted in producing four Shugo (military governors) in total.
However, Settsu Province was expropriated during the reign of Norisuke's son, Mitsunori AKAMATSU, and after that, Norisuke's family was degraded to a branch line and called itself 'Shichijo family.'
In the Shichijo family, a descendent Yoshimura AKAMATSU, who became Masanori AKAMATSU's successor, achieved to recover the status of the head family.

Including the occurrence of the peasant uprising in 1429 in Harima Province, the dominance of the clan started to fade gradually. In 1441, Mitsusuke AKAMATSU and his son Noriyasu AKAMATSU deliberately murdered the sixth Shogun Yoshinori ASHIKAGA at a feast celebrating the victory of the Yuki War, leading to the Kakitsu War. As a consequence, the Akamatsu clan was pursued by the bakufu army lead by Mochitoyo YAMANA (Sozen YAMANA) to search out to kill them, and Mitsusuke and Noriyasu were killed and the main line of the Akamatsu clan was collasped. The clan's territory was taken over by the Yamana clan for its merit in the operation.

Afterwards, a surviving retainer of the Akamatsu clan recovered Shinji (the sacred jewel, yasakani no magatama) out of Sanshu no Jingi (Three Imperial Regalia), which was stolen by Gonancho (latter Southern Court) in the Conspiracy of Kinketsu, and killed Nancho-koin (Imperial descendents of the Southern Court), and for this credit, the Akamatsu clan achieved to resuscitate the family. In the Onin War, the clan supported Katsumoto HOSOKAWA, and for this merit, it came back in power regaining the position of powerful daimyo (feudal lord) ruling the three provinces, Harima, Bizen and Mimasaka, then drove away the force of the Yamana clan in 1488.

Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States)

In the Sengoku Period, the Akamatsu clan became deteriorated through the internal conflicts; Masanori's son, Yoshimura AKAMATSU was killed by his own retainer Muramune URAGAMI, and in addition, Muramune utilized Yoshimura's son Harumasa AKAMATSU to set up a puppet administration. Moreover, the Akamatsu clan had to live under the unfavorable conditions, such as the independence of the Bessho clan, which had been a member of the clan and a longtime retainer, and the invasion by the Amago clan, and its decline had been accelerated.

To recover the presence, the clan took those countermeasures, including transferring of its home base to Okishio-jo Castle, and the alliance of Yoshisuke AKAMATSU, the son of Harumasa and Nobunaga ODA, who was the then tenkabito (person becoming the ruler of the country), however, the clan lost in the battle against Munekage URAGAMI and it eventually collapsed. During the time of Norifusa AKAMATSU, the son of Yoshisuke, the clan became a Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI's retainer, and it was cast down to be a minor daimyo (feudal lord) with the stipend of only 10,000 koku crop yield as of 1583.

Perishing of the head family, and the subsequent history of the family members

Daimyo Akamatsu family
After Hideyoshi's death, as Norihide AKAMATSU, the son of Norifusa, supported the West squad, he was obliged to kill himself in 1600. Masahiro SAIMURA, also a member of the Akamatsu family and was the lord of Takeda-jo Castle in Tajima Province, switched to the East squad from the West squad as well, but after the battle (Battle of Sekigahara) he was ordered to kill himself by Ieyasu Tokugawa, for the charge that Masahiro seriously damaged the castle town by setting fire brutally when he attacked Nagafusa MIYABE of the West squad at his home castle, Tottori-jo Castle, (for this incident, the theory of the false accusation caused by Koremori KAMEI, who encouraged the betrayal and shifted the responsibility is highly likely), and with Masahiro's death, the Akamatsu clan as daimyo had distinguished.

Hatamoto (direct retainer of the bakufu) Akamatsu family
Ujimitsu AKAMATSU was the descendent of Norisuke AKAMATSU, the first son of Norimura AKAMATSU, and he ostensibly proclaimed himself as a member of the Ishino clan, since he was given the Ishino-jo Castle, and he rendered distinguished service in the battle over the Miki-jo Castle as a military commander of Nagaharu BESSHO, by defeating Shigenori FURUTA (Shigenari's older brother), a courageous warrior under the command of Hideyoshi HASHIBA. After surrendering the castle, his skill of shooting was valued, and Ujimitsu was called to serve Hideyoshi and Toshiie MAEDA, with a stipend of more than 3,000 koku crop yield.

In addition, Ujimitsu's son Ujioki became a Hatamoto (direct retainer) of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and was conferred a territory of more than 2,000 koku crop yield in Kazusa Province, and in the Hoei era, when the clan was holding the position of Ongoku-bugyo (the collective name if the magistrates placed at important areas directly controlled by the government in the Edo period) in the generation of Noritada, he recovered the sei (authentic surname) of Akamatsu, and after that, the family persisted as Hatamoto with a stipend of more than 5,000 koku crop yield until the end of the Edo period. Noritada, who was the 10th generation counting from Ujimitsu, lived at the end of the Edo period and consecutively held important positions such as the head of military patrol, magistrate of Kobusho (martial arts training institute), Osoba-goyotoritsugi (a military attache and attendant to Shogun to announce a visitor and convey the message), and magistrate of foreign affairs and so on.
According to a theory he was Kotaiyoriai (a rotating member of the top decision making organ, a family status of samurai warriors in the Edo period) for a while, judging from the fact that he constructed a jinya (regional government office) in Shimoyue, Kazusa Province (Dubious authenticity.)

Arima family
Toyouji ARIMA, who was the head of the Settsu Arima clan and the descendant of Yoshisuke ARIMA, the fifth son of Norisuke AKAMATSU, was granted a territory of 210,000 koku in the Kurume Domain in Chikugo Province, due to the support to the East squad in the Battle of Sekigahara as well as in the Siege of Osaka where he also achieved distinguished performance, and the treatment he received contrasted markedly with the harsh fate of the head family. This family lineage prospered as ascended to be the daimyo (feudal lord) of Ise Saijo Domain in the Kyoho era, as well as the Kurume Domain.

Noritsuna ARIMA, the son of Norikazu ISHINO who was a direct retainer of a branch of the hatamoto Akamatsu family, became an adopted son of the Kurume Arima family, since the family had no heir, and Noritsuna succeeded the reign of the Arima family. This is a symbolic episode of the intimate relationship between the Akamatsu family and the Arima family.

[Original Japanese]