The Northern Court (Japan) (北朝 (日本))

Hokucho (Northern Court) was the Imperial Court of the Jimyo-in line supported by many samurai led by the Ashikaga clan during the period of the Northern and Southern Courts. The counterpart was the Nancho (Southern Court, Yoshino Imperial Court Japan) of the Daikakuji line, established at the same time in Yoshino, Nara.


Takauji ASHIKAGA separated from the Kenmu Government set up by Emperor Godaigo in Kyoto after the collapse of the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), and received an Imperial decree by the Retired Emperor Kogon of the Jimyo-in line, after which he captured Kyoto in July and August 1336 and led the Retired Emperor into Kyoto. Takauji started to establish a samurai government, but Emperor Godaigo escaped to Mt. Hiei and continued to rebel, and the accession to the throne of Imperial Prince Toyohito (Emperor Komyo) in September and October was performed without the Three Sacred Treasures of the Imperial Family. A peace treaty was signed in November of that year (old calendar), and Godaigo returned the Sacred Treasures to the Ashikaga clan and abdicated, as Emperor Komyo ascended the throne. Towards the end of that year (old calendar), the Northern Court issued the "Kenmu Code" and declared the establishment of a samurai government but Godaigo escaped Kyoto to hide in Yoshino and claimed that the Sacred Treasures he gave to the Northern Court were fake and rebelled by establishing the Southern Court.

The Kanno Disturbance occurred due to an internal conflict within the Ashikaga government, and in 1351, the Northern and Southern Courts made peace and the Shohei itto (Unification) was established. With the era names unified and the Sacred Treasures returned to the Southern Court the Northern Court was terminated. The next year, following the Southern Court's attack on Kyoto and Kamakura, together with the kidnaping of the three Retired Emperors, Kogon, Komyo and Suko, and the deposed Crown Prince Imperial Prince Naohito, the unification was nullified. Although Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA tried to re-establish the Northern Court when he recaptured Kyoto, the Chiten could not be chosen because the retired Emperors were absent and the Three Sacred Treasures of the Imperial Family were taken by the Southern Court. The Ashikaga government brought out the previous example of Emperor Keitai and made Kogon's biological mother, Kogimonin the Chiten and made Kogon's prince, Imperial Prince Iyahito ascend the throne as Emperor Gokogon without the Three Sacred Treasures of the Imperial Family in September and October. The three retired emperors were later returned to the Northern Court.

During the rule of Shogun Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA and constable Yoriyuki HOSOKAWA, the Bukeshisso (coordinator for the Northern Court and the Ashikaga government) would intervene with Imperial Court matters, and when in 1370, Emperor Gokogon expressed his wish to abdicate the throne to his prince, Imperial Prince Ohito, retired Emperor Suko claimed that the ascension of his legal child, Imperial Prince Yoshihito was more appropriate and a conflict over Imperial succession occurs. The Imperial Court asked for the bakufu's decision and the ascension of Imperial Prince Ohito was realized (Emperor Goenyu).

In 1392, peace was established with Emperor Gokameyama of the Southern Court and with the return of the Sacred Treasures, the Northern and Southern Courts were integrated.

In 1911, the so called Nanbokucho Seijun-ron (argument about which dynasty is legal) was settled by the Imperial sanction of the Emperor Meiji who chose the Southern Court. Among the 6 emperors of 6 eras in the Northern Court, only Emperor Gokomatsu is counted as one of the 125 past emperors to this day, the rest being excluded because of this sanction.

[Original Japanese]