Shugo daimyo (守護大名)

The shugo daimyo is a concept in Japanese history that refers to the shugo of the Muromachi period, who acquired not only the function of the military and law enforcement but also the economic power, and strengthened the territorial, pervasive control over a province.
The provincial system governed by the shugo daimyo is called the 'shugo-ryogoku system.'
From the period of the late fifteenth to early sixteenth century, some daimyo became Sengoku daimyo (daimyo of the Sengoku, or 'Warring States' period) while other daimyo declined.


The power of the shugo during the Kamakura period was prescribed by the legal code for the warrior class: their power was limited to the military and law enforcement, such as the 'Taibon-sankajo no kendan-sata' (three official authorities given to the shugo over criminal cases: the prodding of lower-ranking vassals to fulfill their duties as obanyaku, i.e., security guards, in Kyoto and Kamakura, the search and arrest of rebels and murderers) and the direction and supervision of obanyaku; the shugo was prohibited from participating in the administration of the kokuga and the kokuga's province, which the kokushi was authorized to perform.

The shugo system of the Kamakura shogunate was inherited when the Muromachi shogunate was established. Initially, the power of the shugo was limited to the taibon-sankajo-no-kendan, just as it was in the Kamakura period, but in 1346 the Muromachi shogunate gave the shugo the authority to judge the case of the karita-rozeki and the authority of the shisetsu-jungyo to administer the country more stably. The karita-rozeki, an act of harvesting rice in the paddy field in order to claim the ownership of the land, occurred with the conflicts of land appropriation among samurai. The shisetsu-jungyo was intended to enforce the shogunate's decision in the field. As a result of obtaining the right of judgment over criminal cases, the shugo now had two rights: the right to intervene in the dispute between samurai in the province and the right to enforce the law. Moreover, originally the shugo were often selected from the powerful samurais in the local area, but the change was gradually made to select from the descents of the Ashikaga shogun family, the Fudai (hereditary vassals) or the meritorious retainer.

In 1352, the shugo were given the right of hanzei to collect half the customs from the manor and the Kokuga's territory within the province, in order to secure military provisions for the Kanno-no-Joran (turmoil of the Kanno). Initially, the hanzei was granted only in the three provinces where fierce battles had raged (Omi Province, Mino Province, and Owari Provice), but the shugo competed to demand the granting of hanzei, and the right was gradually perpetuated, spreading throughout the land. The hanzei decree of the Oan era issued in 1368 authorized the shugo to take not only half the customs, which had already been granted, but also half the land, and subsequently the shugo penetrated deep into the manor and the Kokuga's territory. Moreover, the shugo signed, together with the manor lords, a contract to manage the payment of customs, and served as the shugo-uke, who had substantially greater control over the manor. With this shugo-uke, the shugo obtained the right to govern the land itself, i.e., the shitaji-shinshi-ken (the right to appropriate the land).

Additionally, the shugo were granted the right to collect the tansen, a tax imposed in proportion to the area by the Imperial Court or the shogunate for the contingent project (for example, building the palace) and to collect the munebetsu-sen, a tax imposed on each house. With this right to collect tax, the shugo continued to strengthen the economic power by independently imposing and collecting the tansen and munebetsu-sen.

Because of the enhanced powers as described above, the shugo took over the organization governed by the kokushi and recruited the zaicho-kannin (kokuga's officer) in the kokuga as a vassal while at the same time combining the kokuga's province with the zaicho-kannin's territory to form the shugo-ryo (shugo's province) directly governed by the shugo.

In parallel with these processes, the shugo, with their strong economy, recruited as vassals even influential figures called kokujin, such as the jito (estate steward) and the myoshu (owner of the paddy field) in the province, in addition to the zaicho-kannin mentioned above. This entire process is called 'hikanka' (被官化), and with it the shugo increased their equal, territorial influence (pervasive control) over the province.

These functions of the shugo during the Muromachi period were considerably different from those of the Kamakura period, which were limited to the military and law enforcement; accordingly, the shugo of the Muromachi period is called the shugo daimyo, being distinguished from the shugo of the Kamakura period. Additionally, the provincial system governed by the shugo daimyo is called the shugo-ryogoku system. The provincial control by the shugo daimyo, however, was not as complete as the one in the Sengoku-ryogoku system during the later period: in fact, there are many examples in which the Kokujin refused to serve as a vassal of the shugo, particularly in the Kinai. Moreover, the shogunate did not think it was appropriate to dismantle the manorial system or strengthen the power of the shugo, and this often disturbed powerful shugo daimyo despite the opposition of the Imperial Court, temples and shrines.

By the middle of the Muromachi period the system of the shugo daimyo in the shogunate was enlarged, and it was possible to describe the Muromachi shogunate as a so-called coalition government of shugo daimyo. Powerful shugo daimyo in those days included the tozama-seiryoku (forces of outside lords) such as the Yamana, Ouchi and Akamatsu clans, as well as the clans of the Ashikaga shogun family such as the Shiba, Hatakeyama and Hosokawa clans. These powerful shugo often resided in the capital for some duration in order to serve the shogunate, and for that reason they appointed the shugo-dai (deputy shugo) from the kokujin and the direct vassals as deputies of the shugo when they left the province or had many provinces. Even the shugo-dai placed the ko-shugo-dai (deputy of the shugo-dai), creating a structure of governance having two or three layers.

Since approximately the time of the Onin War (Onin-no-ran), conflicts between shugo daimyo increased to a striking degree. Concurrently with the increased conflicts, the Kokujin's aspirations for independence, as in the kokujin uprising (kokujin-ikki), became more apparent. On one hand, these movements undermined the authority of the shugo daimyo, but on the other hand they tightened the control of the kokujin by the shugo daimyo. Starting around the Meio-no-seihen (明応の政変) in 1493, the shugo daimyo that had failed to regain authority were ousted from their positions by shugo-dai and kokujin, while those that succeeded in tightening the control of the kokujin further strengthened the provincial control.

The shugo in the Muromachi period that had succeeded in strengthening the control of the province, as well as the shugo-dai and the kokujin that had overthrown the shugo, gradually evolved into the Sengoku daimyo. The Sengoku period is said to have been the era of Gekokujo, in which the inferiors overthrew their superiors, but in fact a considerable number of shugo daimyo managed to become Sengoku daimyo. The only families that survived to remain as daimyo in the modern period were as follows: the Uesugi, the Kyogoku, the Hosokawa-oshu, the Izumi-Hosokawa, the Ogasawara, the Shimazu, the Satake and the Soke.

[Original Japanese]