Ashikaga Mochiuji (足利持氏)

Mochiuji ASHIKAGA (1398-April 2, 1439), was the fourth Kamakura kubo (Governor-general of the Kanto region) from 1409 to 1439. He was a son of Mitsukane ASHIKAGA.

Family line

His real family name was the Minamoto clan. His family line was Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan), the head of the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan), a direct descendant of the Ashikaga clan whose ancestor was MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni whose father was MINAMOTO no Yoshiie, Chinju-fu shogun (Commander-in-Chief of the Defense of the North), a branch family of the Ashikaga shogunal family and a descendant of the fourth of the Kamakura kubo Ashikaga family.
(Please refer to items about the Ashikaga clan and Ashikaga shogun family for details.)

Takauji ASHIKAGA - Motouji ASHIKAGA - Ujimitsu ASHIKAGA -Mitsukane ASHIKAGA - Mochiuji ASHIKAGA - Shigeuji ASHIKAGA --- to Kogakubo (descendants of one of the Ashikaga families that held the office of the Kanto district administrator)


In 1409, after his farther, Mitsukane's death he became the Kamakura kubo. However he did not get along with Zenshu UESUGI (Ujinori UESUGI), the Kanto kanrei (a shogunal deputy for the Kanto region) and Mitsutaka ASHIKAGA, his uncle and became opposed to them. In 1416 Zenshu and Mitsutaka plotted a coup and he was temporarily exiled to Suruga Province (The War of Zenshu UESUGI). However the next year, he suppressed the rebellion in cooperation with Fusakata UESUGI in Echigo Province.

Confrontation with Shogun

The confrontation between the Shogun in Kyoto and the Kamakura kubo continued from the generation of Ujimitsu ASHIKAGA, his grand father. At that time, because the Kanto kanrei Noriharu UESUGI committed suicide to stop Ujimitsu, a conflict was avoided but conflict between the Shogun who wanted to gain control of the Kanto region and the Kamakura kubo who resisted to the Shogun was fateful.

In 1423, he destroyed Mitsushige OGURI who was one of the Kyoto fuchishu (samurais directly subjected to Shogun) on the ground that Mitsushige was ordered by the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) to plot a rebellion against Mochiuji. Mochiuji continuously conquered Mochitsuna UTSUNOMIYA and Nobuyoshi MOMOI who were also members of the Kyoto fuchishu to wipe out groups which supported the Muromachi bakufu (The War of Mitsushige OGURI or The Oei War). In response, the fourth Shogun Yoshimochi ASHIKAGA plotted to put down Mochiuji, but the suppression was canceled because of Mochiuji's apology. However the confrontation between the bakufu side who plotted to use the Kanto fuchishu to prevent Mochiuji from gaining power and Mochiuji who resisted this became worse.

In 1425, the fifth Shogun Yoshikazu ASHIKAGA died of illness and the former Shogun Yoshimochi ASHIKAGA died of illness in 1428; the shogunate was vacant and Mochiuji wished for the sixth Shogun position because he belonged to the Ashikaga clan. However, Mitsuie HATAKEYAMA, the Kanrei (shogunal deputy) and Mansai, the monzeki (successor of a temple) of Sanbo-in Temple discussed and decided to choose a successor from four younger brothers of Yoshimochi by drawing lots. As a result, Gien who was Tendai-Zasu (head priest of the Tendaishu sect) quitted the priesthood and became the successor to the shogunate. Mochiuji who was an adopted child of Yoshimochi was not satisfied with the result and called new Shogun Yoshinori "shogun returned to secular life" and did not even send an envoy to celebrate Yoshinori's inauguration. In addition, he continued to use the former era name, Shocho after the era name was changed to Eikyo, then assigned the chief priests of Kamakura Gozan Temples who were usually assigned by the Shogun; the behavior was to show his attitude against the bakufu.

Norizane UESUGI, the Kanto kanrei tried to maintain harmonious relation between Mochiuji and Yoshinori but Mochiuji did not accept this. In addition, there was a rumor that Norizane will be destroyed by Mochiuji, so a gap between Norizane and Mochiuji gradually became bigger, finally in 1437, Norizane resigned the Kanto kanrei. On the other hand, Mitsuie HATAKEYAMA, the Kanrei died in 1433, and Mansai died in 1435; after the death of two persons who wished for harmonious relations between the Shogun and Mochiuji at the bakufu side, there was no person who could stop Yoshinori.

Eikyo War

In July 1438, a legitimate child of Mochiuji, Yoshihisa ASHIKAGA celebrated genpuku (one's coming of age); it was a common practice that a name would be given to the child taking one character given by the Shogun, but Mochiuji did not follow the tradition and named him Yoshihisa. Norizane did not attend the ceremony, so the confrontation between Norizane and Mochiuji became clear. In August, Norizane left Kamakura to go back to his territory in Kozuke Province. Mochiuji understood this as Norizane's rebellion, so he sent army to put down Norizane and he led army to Koan-ji Temple, Fuchu, Musashi Province by his own.

Shogun Yoshinori ordered Mitsunao ASHIKAGA at Sasagawa Palace and Noritada IMAGAWA, the Governor of Suruga Province to dispatch troops to save Norizane. In addition, the bakufu force including Zenshu's sons, Mochifusa UESUGI and Noritomo UESUGI was sent. At the same time, Jibatsu Rinji (a permission to destroy Emperor's enemy) was given and Mochiuji became an Emperor's enemy.

On October 25, Mochiuji was defeated and withdrew his force to Ebina in Sagami Province. However, some busho who guarded Kamakura including Tokitaka MIURA continuously betrayed Mochiuji and soldiers ran away, so Mochiuji was isolated. On the way back to Kamakura, Mochiuji met Tadamasa NAGAO, a Kasai (main retainer) of Norizane and asked him to tell his request to Norizane; his request was to ask Norizane to negotiate with Yoshinori for him. After that, he became a priest in Shomyo-ji Temple in Kamakura and was confined in Yoan-ji Temple. Norizane implored Yoshinori to save Mochiuji's life and give a kubo position to Yoshihisa, Yoshinori did not grant his wishes and ordered him to hunt down and kill Mochiuji. On April 2, 1439 soldiers led by Norizane attacked Yoan-ji Temple and Mochiuji committed suicide and died.
(The Eikyo War.)
His homyo (a Buddhist name given to a person who has died or has entered the priesthood) was 長春院陽山道純. After his suicide, the Kamakura kubo fell once, but Ujitomo YUKI and MochitomoYUKI who supported Mochiuji's bereaved children Haruomaru ASHIKAGA and Yasuomaru ASHIKAGA and raised army, so turbulence in the Kanto region lasted for a while (The Battle of Yuki).

Record of offices and ranks held
Date according to old lunar calendar
On December 22, 1410 he reached the manhood and started to name himself Mochiuji. On the same day, he was awarded Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and assigned to Sama no kami (Captain of Samaryo, Left Division of Bureau of Horses).

In December 1420, he was promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) and transferred to Sahyoe no kami (Captain of the Left Division of Middle Palace Guards).

In October 1483, he entered priesthood.

Father: Mitsukane ASHIKAGA
Mother: from the Isshiki clan
Younger brother: Mochinaka ASHIKAGA
Wife: A daughter of Mitsusuke YANADA?
Child: 安漬和尚
Child: Yoshihisa ASHIKAGA (Kenomaru)
Child: Haruomaru
Child: Yasuomaru
Child: Shigeuji ASHIKAGA
Child: 成潤
Child: Shubo (周昉) (Morizane)
Child: 尊敒
Child: Joson (定尊)
Child: Hirotaka
Child: Hirouji (広氏) KAGEYAMA

[Original Japanese]