Miyoshi Nagayoshi (三好長慶)

Nagayoshi/Chokei MIYOSHI was a busho (Japanese military commander) in the Sengoku period (period of warring states). He was a daimyo (Japanese territorial lord) in the Sengoku period in Awa Province in the Kinai (countries near Kyoto). He was a Shobanshu (officials who accompany the Shogun) and Kanrei-dai (representative of a shogunal deputy) for the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

Family line

His family name was Minamoto clan. His family came from a line of the Miyoshi clan, a branch family of the Ogasawara clan which was of the school of Kai-Genji as a collateral line of Kawachi-Genji from Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan).

He was Motonaga MIYOSHI's son and the eldest brother to Yoshitaka MIYOSHI, Fuyuyasu ATAGI, Kazumasa SOGO and Fuyunaga NOGUCHI. He was known as Magojiro, and his government post was Jushii (Junior Fourth Rank) in Chikuzen Province and later, Shuri no daibu (Master of the Office of Palace Repairs).
His name appears in many historical materials by its abbreviation, 'Sanchiku.'
Nagayoshi as it is often read 'Chokei' in the way of Yusoku-yomi (expression of respect).

Time as Hosokawa's Retainer

He was born in the area currently named Miyoshi City, Tokushima Prefecture on March 20, 1522 as the son of Motonaga MIYOSHI. His father, Motonaga, wielded power in Awa Province and Yamashiro Province as an influential main retainer under Harumoto HOSOKAWA, however, Harumoto feared Motonaga's growing power and killed him in 1532 with the help of Ikko sect. At that time, Nagayoshi was pardoned as a result of his young age and an intervention by Nagamasa KIZAWA serving Kawachi no kuni Shugodai, he followed Harumoto HOSOKAWA.

Nagayoshi was a greater commander than his father and grandfather in terms of wisdom and courage. From his discontent with not being able to inherit his father's territories, he travelled to Kyoto in 1539 with 2,500 soldiers and was successful in obtaining it by force. At that time, the current Shogun Yoshiharu ASHIKAGA left for Omi Province in fear of Nagayoshi, and Harumoto even asked Sadayori ROKKAKU to intervene in his reconciliation with Nagayoshi. As a result, Nagayoshi became Settsu no kuni Shugodai (provincial governor of Settsu Province), castellan of Koshimizu Castle. Later, Nagayoshi diligently worked for the Hosokawa clan as their main retainer; after he defeated such enemies as the forces of Nagamasa KIZAWA and Naganori YUSA one after another, he finally rose to the most powerful main retainer position in the Hosokawa clan, who was actually Tenkabito (person becoming the ruler of the country), after the Onin no ran (Rebellion of Onin).

In 1548, he defected to the side of Ujitsuna HOSOKAWA, who opposed Harumoto HOSOKAWA, and ousted Harumoto and shogun Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA to Omi Province in 1549, then he subdued Masanaga MIYOSHI, who was a rival but also from the same clan (the Battle of Eguchi). Finally, Hosokawa's government collapsed and led to Miyoshi's government.

The Rise and Fall of Miyoshi's Government

Nagayoshi's government had the Kinai under his control by maintaining a puppet shogun and wielding the real power as a power-broker rather than overthrowing the bakufu. Generally, his government is not deemed to be a fully national and long-term government like the Tokuso HOJO family in the Kamakura era, and he should be considered only as a daimyo (Japanese territorial lord) in the Sengoku period.

In February 1552, he reconciled with Harumoto and Yoshiteru, who were his rivals, through the mediation of the Rokkaku clan and along advantageous conditions (Nagayoshi became a bakufu's Shobanshu and Harumoto retired upon transfer of the family estate to Ujitsuna).

However, conflict broke out again between him and the both of them in 1553; however, he reconciled with Yoshiteru, used the opportunity to defeat the Ashikaga and Hosokawa armies in the Battle of Kyoto-Ryozen in 1558, and seized the real power to govern the bakufu as its leader. Paradoxically, however, this simply means that the Miyoshi family would have been under the restraint of the bakufu's power; they returned the ruling power in Yamashiro Province to the Shogun family and to Saikyojo, which had been issued under the name of Yoshinaga on behalf of the bakufu and was discontinued in the same year, it became clear that the Miyoshi family suffered a political setback by losing the guise of the central government. He subsequently held control of the economic power in Sakai City, entrusting his armies with his competent younger brothers to fight wars in Kawachi Province, Yamato Province and Tanba Province one after another; though he built a large administration, this resulted only in his only influence stopping at the local level.

Furthermore, Miyoshi's government was mostly supported by Nagayoshi's personal competence and capabilities. As a result of the deaths of his clan people, Kazumasa SOGO in 1561, Yoshitaka MIYOSHI in 1562 and Yoshitaka MIYOSHI in 1563, Nagayoshi began to suffer physical and mental illnesses and his powers of influence weakened significantly. He had to be manipulated by Kasai (main retainer), Hisahide MATSUNAGA, in order for him to exercise real power in the later years.

His Final Days

Just after he killed his younger brother Fuyuyasu ATAGI because of slanders from Hisahide MATSUNAGA in 1564, he died on August 20 in a house near Kawachi Imoriyama Castle due to extended illness, passed at a time when it seemed as if he was following his brother (There are opinions that it was an assassination, rather than a death from illness. Hisahide MATSUNAGA and three other people from the Miyoshi family are suspected; however, this theory is believed to be a myth created by writers in later years). He was forty two years old. Since his son Yoshioki died young a year earlier, Yoshitsugu MIYOSHI, son of his younger brother, Kazumasa SOGO, was adopted to take over (it is also believed that the shock from the killing of Fuyuyasu compelled him to assign his family estate to Yoshitsugu and retire in July).

Career of job grade

* The lunar calendar is used for dates.

On an unknown date he was assigned to Chikuzen Province.

On an unknown date he was granted the rank of Jugoi (Junior Fifth Rank).

On February 28, 1552 he was promoted to the rank of Jushii (Junior Fourth Rank). He remained Chikuzen no kami (governor of Chikuzen Province).

On January 21, 1560 he was appointed as Shuri no daibu (Master of the Office of Palace Repairs).


Like Nobunaga ODA, Nagayoshi was a well-educated person that focused on the economic power of Sakai City and often held the renga-kai (a gathering of linked verse) to pay particular attention to the relationship with the Imperial Court. However, we sense a difference between Nobunaga and Nagayoshi because Nagayoshi wielded the real power through his informal role as a power-broker, rather than choosing to overthrow the bakufu to obtain the highest position.

To mourn his father Motonaga MIYOSHI, in 1557, Nagayoshi constructed Nanshu-ji Temple on Mt. Ryuko under the auspices of Rinzai sect Daitoku-ji school, for which Daitoku-ji ninetieth Dairin Soto who Nagayoshi had respected was determined as kaisan (a founder of temple as the first chief priest). Since the temple was a place for the Chajin (master of the tea ceremony), where Joo TAKENO and SEN no Rikyu received their training, and Soho TAKUAN was serving as chief priest, this significantly contributed to the development of the Machishu-bunka (bourgeois culture) in Sakai. Nagayoshi was deeply devoted to Soto DAIRIN; he frequently said 'I am not afraid of large armies of a million soldiers, but there is nothing as frightening as a reprimand from Soto DAIRIN,' and it is believed that he always dismounted from his horse to walk around Nanshu-ji Temple.

His name is often read as 'Chokei,' but the correct reading is thought to be 'Nagayoshi.'
His name is often read in the 'on' reading style as well as Haruaki ABE (ABE no Seimei in the 'on' reading), Norisuke AKAMATSU (Sokuyu AKAMATSU in the 'on' reading) and Takayoshi KIDO (Koin KIDO in the 'on' reading).

The mourning was concealed, and the funeral ceremony was held three years after the death of Nagayoshi.

Although the assassination of Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA was planned by Hisahide MATSUNAGA before his death, he continued resisting the plan to the end.

He was a distinguished person in culture, and he often invited highly-educated people in the Kinai to Uta-kai (poem competitions) and Cha-kai (tea parties) to further his ties with them. His younger brother Yoshikata MIYOSHI is also believed to have been a highly-educated person.

In order to govern the Kokujin as a whole, he directed each of his competent brothers to manage the respective countries, and in his prime, was a daimyo (Japanese territorial lord) in the Sengoku period who even brought nine countries situated from Yamashiro through Iyo under his control.

Though he was a great commander, excelling at both the paths of military arts and literary arts, some would overstress his educated character; he refuted these characterizations in a distinguished Waka poem, 'A man who ridicules someone as a Renga poet is not as brave as taking a bow and arrows.'

[Original Japanese]