The Kanno Disturbance (観応の擾乱)

The Kanno Disturbance was a power struggle within the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) that reached its height during the Kanno era from 1350 to 1352 of the Northern and Southern Court period. This article will also explain the Shohei Itto (Unification of Shohei) by the Southern Court that temporarily happened in relation to this disturbance.

Rise of KO no Moronao and conflict with Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA
The governance system in the early Ashikaga shogunate (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) which supported the Northern Court and was established in Kyoto was not yet functional and governance used the kasei (vassal) system of the Ashikaga family. Seii Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") Takauji ASHIKAGA left Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA, who actively supported Takauji during his plans to overthrow the Kamakura bakufu and departure from the Kenmu Restoration, to manage administration and Tadayoshi was in charge of shogunate administration such as litigation. Takauji kept the position as the family head of the Ashikaga and the military command, and held the mandokoro (The Administrative Board) and samurai dokoro (The Board of Retainers) under his control. This separation of political power was called 'Ryoshogun' (two shoguns).

The Ko clan had for generations been retainers of Ashikaga and KO no Moronao acted as a steward, fighting the Southern Court forces in the Kanto region as the military commander and gained military success by placing the Kanto region under the control of the bakufu. His brother Moroyasu KO was also militarily successful by defeating Yoshisada NITTA and Akiie KITABATAKE and participated as a core member of the bakufu.

Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA handled many lawsuits raised by the aristocracy, temples and shrines who had their shoen (private estates) taken by the buke (military class), and he tried to avoid conflict between kuge/temples/shrines and buke by preventing control by buke by recognizing the independence of the shoen of kuge, temples and shrines in exchange for accepting the Hanzei rei. On the other hand, Moronao felt it necessary to give sufficient reward to bushi to prevent them from confronting the bakufu or supporting the Southern Court, and thought that buke who had been the actual managers of the shoen of kuge, temples and shrines as shugo (constable) or jito (land steward) should become the landlord. Therefore, a conflict over the supremacy of the bakufu arose between the group supporting Tadayoshi and the group supporting Moronao. Takauji tried to take a third-party attitude, but was gradually taken in by the Moronao group. Meanwhile, KO no Moronao killed Takasada ENYA, which shocked bushi nationwide.

In 1347, the Southern Court (Yoshino Court) started a movement to regain Kyoto. Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA accepted Takauji's request to send Akiuji HOSOKAWA to attack the Southern Court forces, but it ended in failure. On the other hand, Ko no Moronao destroyed the Southern Court (Yoshino Court) forces led by Masatsura KUSUNOKI in the Battle of Shijonawate in 1348, and with the momentum, succeeded in attacking Yoshino, the main headquarters of the Southern Court, leading to the escape of the Southern Court to Ano (Gojo City, Nara Prefecture). As a result, Tadayoshi's power decreased within the bakufu and Moronao's power increased, leading to further conflict between the two groups.

The elimination of Tadayoshi
In June 1349, Shigeyoshi UESUGI, Naomune HATAKEYAMA, and the Zen priest, Myokitsu advised Tadayoshi to slander KO no Moronao before the shogun Takauji. According to the classic, "Taiheiki" (The Record of the Great Peace), there was an attempt to assassinate Moronao by the Tadayoshi group. In June, Moronao was fired as steward by the request of Tadanao (his successor was his nephew, KO no Moroyo). Tadayoshi requested an Imperial order to attack Moronao from Emperor Kogon of the Southern Court to kill Moronao, but on August 12, Moronao gathered troops together with Moroyasu KO who came to the capital from Kawachi and made a preemptive strike against Tadayoshi.

Tadafuyu ASHIKAGA, who was Takauji's bastard son and Tadayoshi's foster son, who was staying in Bingo Province after being named the Nagato tandai (Shogunal deputies in Nagato) in April, heard about the events in Kyoto and tried to go to Kyoto to help his foster father Tadayoshi, but Moronao commanded Norimura AKAMATSU (Enshin) to stop Tadafuyu's movement toward Kyoto and asked Takauji to attack Tadafuyu. Tadafuyu escaped to Kyushu and was welcomed by the various forces there, such as the Shoni clan.

On the 13th, Tadayoshi escaped into Takauji's quarters, but Moronao brought a large force and surrounded Takauji. Moronao demands custody of Shigeyoshi and Naomune. This incident was intervened into by the Zen priest Muso Soseki, under the condition that Shigeyoshi and Naomune were to be exiled, Tadayoshi became a monk and retired from the bakufu administration, Moronao removed his barricade. In place of Tadayoshi, who retired from governing, Takauji's legal son, Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA who lived in Kamakura came to Kyoto to become the next shogun and take up the administration. This incident sparked rumors that said there was an understanding between Moronao and Takauji to eliminate Tadayoshi, and even to this day, there are theories that propose the incident was caused with intention.

Yoshiakira entered Kyoto in November and Tadayoshi became a monk in December and is called Egen. However, during December, Shigeyoshi UESUGI and Naomune HATAKEYAMA were killed while under Moronao's custody, leading to tension between the two groups again.

The decline of the KO clan.
In 1350, the Northern Court changed the era name to 'Kanno.'
In October, Takauji set out with his forces to attack Tadafuyu in Kyushu, who was increasing his power, and meanwhile, Tadayoshi escaped from Kyoto. Takauji continued to move his forces, and Tadayoshi gained the support of Kunikiyo HATAKEYAMA, Tadatsune MOMONOI, Yorifusa ISHIDO, Akiuji HOSOKAWA, Tokiuji YAMANA, and Takatsune SHIBA, and in Kanto, Noriaki UESUGI chased away KO no Morofuyu of the KO clan in December. Takauji returned his forces from Bingo and the Ko brothers joined him. This is considered to be the start of the Kanno Disturbance. In November, Tadayoshi gathered troops from the various provinces to attack the Ko brothers. The Retired Emperor Kogen gave the Imperial order to attack Tadayoshi, and in December, Tadayoshi went to the Southern Court.

In January 1351, the Tadayoshi forces chased Yoshiakira from Kyoto and preserved the Northern Court. In February, Takauji lost to Tadayoshi at the Battle of Komyo-ji Temple (Harima Province) and the Battle of Uchidehama (Settsu Province), and reconciled with Tadayoshi under the condition that Moronao and Moroyasu brothers become monks.

The Ko brothers were killed together with other family members by Yoshinori UESUGI (foster son of Shigeyoshi who was killed by Moronao) of the Tadayoshi group at Mukogawa River (Itami City, Hyogo Prefecture) in Settsu when they were on their way from Settsu to Kyoto under guard. Tadayoshi returned to the administration in a position to support Yoshiakira.

The defeat of Tadayoshi and the surrender of Takauji to the Southern Court
Even after the decline of the Ko clan, there was conflict between the Tadayoshi group and the anti-Tadayoshi group within the bakufu. Doyo SASAKI and Norisuke AKAMATSU rebelled against the bakufu and joined the Southern Court, and Takauji set out to Omi to attack Sasaki, and Takauji's son, Yoshiakira set out to Harima to attack Akamatsu.
However, Takauji and Yoshiakira had a secret treaty with Doyo and tried to pincer-attack Kyoto, so Tadayoshi escaped from Kyoto via the Hokuriku region and Shinano Province to reach Kamakura City, together with his warriors such as Momonoi, Shiba, and Yamana,

Takauji negotiated with the Southern Court and suggested peace talks and requested an order to attack Tadayoshi and Tadafuyu ASHIKAGA. The Southern Court agreed to peace under conditions such as the return of the Three Sacred Treasures that the Northern Court held (the Southern Court claimed that they had fakes in their possession) and the administration, and in October, Takauji surrendered to the Southern Court and received the Imperial order.

Takauji left Yoshiakira in Kyoto to be in charge of the negotiations with the Southern Court, and took forces to attack Tadayoshi, and in 1352, he defeated Tadayoshi at battles in Mt. Satta, Suruga Province (Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture) and Hayakawariji, Sagami Province (Odawara City, Kanagawa Prefecture) and chased him into Kamakura, where Tadayoshi surrendered. Tadayoshi was kept under arrest in Kamakura and died suddenly in February. The "Taiheiki" describes the death as being due to poisoning under orders from Takauji.

Shohei Itto
Regarding the Imperial Court, with Takauji's surrender, the Northern Court Emperor Suko and the Crown Prince Naohito were abolished and Kanpaku Yoshimoto NIJO lost their jobs. The era was unified from Kanno 2 of the Northern Court to 'Shohei 6' of the Southern Court. This was called the 'Shohei Itto' (Unification of Shohei). The imperial messenger from the Southern Court came to Kyoto and specific conditions for the peace treaty were discussed. The Southern Court confronted the Northern Court by proposing to fire the people selected by the Northern Court to become Tendaizasu (chief of Tendaishu) and important positions in temples and shrines and replace them with Southern Court related people, and wanted the cancellation of the return by the Ashikaga administration of jito (land steward) positions that were taken away during the Kenmu Restoration to give to kuge and temples and shrines. Yoshiakira contacted Takauji to confirm the concessions and tried to keep a contingent escape route. The Shohei Itto was established and when rumors arose that Emperor Gomurakami was to return to Kyoto, Southern Court supporters in various regions grew active and transferred the main headquarters from Ano to Tojo (Kanancho) Kawachi Province to Sumiyoshi Settsu Province (Sumiyoshi Ward, Osaka City).

The Southern Court under the leadership of Chikafusa KITABATAKE planned to regain Kyoto and Kamakura together by calling for forces in both eastern and western Japan, and in February 1352, Takauji is relieved of his position as Seii Taishogun by the Southern Court and Imperial Prince Muneyoshi was installed in his place. Yoshioki NITTA and Yoshimune NITTA supported Imperial Prince Muneyoshi and regained Kamakura, and Takauji, who had just defeated Tadayoshi, escaped to Musashi Province. The main force behind the Southern Court, Masanori KUSUNOKI, and Akinobu KITABATAKE, Akitsune CHIGUSA and Tokiuji YAMANA of the Tadayoshi group, attacked Kyoto and Yoshiakira escaped to Omi. When he escaped, Yoshiakira left the Northern Court Emperor Kogon, Emperor Komyo, Emperor Suko, and Imperial Prince Naohito in Kyoto, and they were taken into custody by the Southern Court and sent to Ano.

The Southern Court regained both Kyoto and Kamakura as a result of coordination between eastern and western Japan, and Emperor Gomurakami arrived in Otokoyama, Yamashiro Province (Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine in Yawata City, Kyoto Prefecture) from Ano. Yoshiakira, who had escaped to Omi, rescinded on the Shohei Itto and returned to the way it was in the era from Shohei 7 to Kanno 3, and ignored the unification plan that was discussed, but part of it affected him. Yoshiakira used the various shugo and gathered forces such as the Toki clan in Mino, Hosokawa clan in Shikoku, Akamatsu clan in Harima, Sasaki clan in Omi and with the cooperation of the Tadayoshi group Yamana clan and Shiba clan, they regained Kyoto in March and Takauji chased away the Nitta forces to regain Kamakura.

In May, Emperor Gomurakami escaped from Yamashiro Yawata to Ano. Takasuke SHIJO was killed in this skirmish.

The prolongation of the Southern Court
Because of this disturbance, the authority of the shogun that was divided between Takauji and Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA was unified under Takauji and the power of the shogun was strengthened but the Southern Court that was forced to the brink of elimination when KO no Moronao attacked Yoshino, was prolonged when Tadayoshi and Takauji surrendered in turn, and led to the prolongation of the upheaval of the period of Northern and Southern Courts.

Because one of the conditions that the Southern Court demanded when Takauji surrendered was to unify Imperial succession to the Southern Court, the legitimacy of the Imperial succession of the Northern Court was weakened. Since the Chiten no kimi (the Retired Emperor or the Cloistered Emperor who held actual power of government) Retired Emperor Kogon, the Retired Emperor Suko, who had just abdicated the throne, and Crown Prince Naohito, were under custody of the Southern Court and the Three Sacred Treasures of the Northern Court that Emperor Godaigo of the Southern Court claimed were fakes were also held by the Southern Court, the Northern Court was in a state of no Chiten, Emperor, Crown Prince, or the Treasures. Additionally, Takauji was dismissed as Seii Taishogun, the bakufu itself also lost its legal foundation. Since the Chiten and Emperor, who would make the final political decision, were absent, the political administration of the various forces in Kyoto (kuge, bakufu, shugo) was delayed. This led to a serious political crisis for the bakufu/Northern Court side.

Yoshimoto NIJO was worried about the situation and in agreement with Tsuneaki KASHUJI and Takauji, he requested the biological mother of Kogon and Komyo, Neishi SAIONJI become Chiten no kimi and after various obstacles were overcome, he gained acceptance. Kogimon-in gave the Denkoku Shosen (announcement to the nation), Suko's brother, Emperor Gokogon was able to ascend to the throne.
Yoshimoto said to the kuge who were reluctant about the ascension of a new emperor without the Sacred Treasures, 'Takauji will be the Kusanagi no tsurugi (sword) and Yoshimoto will be the ji (seal).'
Nothing is the matter' ("Zoku Honchotsugan" (history book edited by the Edo bakufu) he is said to have openly said, but the existence of the Sacred Treasures was not mandatory for ascension and the Denkoku Shosen by the Chiten was thought to have been sufficient in those times.

The Imperial conflict within the Northern Court
The 4 emperors of the Gokogon line, Emperors Gokogon, Koenyu, Gokomatsu, Shoko were on the throne, whereas descendants of Emperor Suko who were the elder brothers, were eliminated from the succeeding line and existed as the hereditary Imperial Prince line, the Fushiminomiya ke, and there is said to be a conflict between the two lines within the Northern Court regarding Imperial succession. As a result, the Gokogon line ended with Shoko and the next Emperor Gohanazono (Suko's great-grandson), continued on under the Suko line.

[Original Japanese]