Ashikaga Yoshiharu (足利義晴)

Yoshiharu ASHIKAGA was the 12th Seii Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") of the Muromachi Shogunate (shogunship from 1521 to 1546). He was the eldest son of the eleventh shogun, Yoshizumi ASHIKAGA, and his mother was a daughter of Nagatoshi HINO, who was a niece of Tomiko HINO. His younger brother was Yoshitsuna ASHIKAGA.

Installation as the Shogun

When Yoshitane ASHIKAGA was enthroned by Yoshioki OUCHI as the tenth shogun and entered Kyoto, Yoshiharu's father Yoshizumi fled from Kyoto to find shelter under Takayori ROKKAKU in Omi, and Yoshiharu was born as Yoshizumi's first son in Omi Kutsuki on March 5, 1511, while en route to Omi. However, on August 14 in the year of his birth, Yoshiharu's father died in Kutsuki.

Then, Yoshiharu was brought to the Province of Harima in 1514 and was raised under the protection of Yoshimura AKAMATSU. Because Yoshitane ASHIKAGA, who had opposed his father and reassumed the shogunship, had been driven out from Kyoto as a result of his confrontation with Takakuni HOSOKAWA, the kanrei (shogunal deputy), in 1521, Yoshiharu was supported by Takakuni to become the twelfth shogun.

Shuttling Between Kyoto and Omi

When Takakuni killed one of his subordinates, Motomori KOZAI, in order to cause internal strife in the Hosokawa clan in 1526, Harumoto HOSOKAWA, who confronted Takakuni, fought against Takakuni with the assistance of Motonaga MIYOSHI in order to enthrone Yoshitsuna ASHIKAGA, the younger brother of Yoshiharu. Takakuni's murder of Motomori made Tanemichi HATANO and Kataharu YANAGIMOTO decide to stand against Takakuni. As a result, Takakuni HOSOKAWA lost the Battle of Katsuragawa in 1527, and Yoshiharu was ousted from Kyoto by those who were newly empowered, such as Motonaga MIYOSHI, a native bushi of Awa Province, and Harumoto HOSOKAWA. In 1528, Yoshiharu fled to Omi Province (present-day Shiga Prefecture) to seek shelter under Tanetsuna KUTSUKI, a general of Sengoku period, and stood against Yoshitsuna ASHIKAGA, who was then called Sakai Kubo, who was the head of the Sakai-based municipal government.

In 1531, Takakuni lost the Battle of Tennoji and killed himself. Following the battle, Harumoto HOSOKAWA and Motonaga MIYOSHI became antagonistic toward one another. Consequently, Motonaga was defeated by Harumoto HOSOKAWA in 1532, but Yoshiharu won the support of Sadayori ROKKAKU and his son Yoshitaka ROKKAKU, made peace with Harumoto and returned to Kyoto in 1534.

However, Yoshiharu's relationship with Harumoto never stayed calm; on the contrary, it was always unstable as the shogun confronted his greatest supporter, lost in a battle against him, escaped to Omi Sakamoto in 1541, made peace with him and returned to Kyoto in 1541. Nevertheless, he fled to Omi again in 1543.

Transfer of Shogunship and Death

In 1546, Yoshiharu fought Harumoto (in the Battle of Eguchi), lost and escaped to Omi Sakamoto, during which time he gave the shogunship to his son and heir to the throne, Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA, and helped the still juvenile shogun as his guardian. Eventually, Yoshiharu came to terms with Harumoto and returned to Kyoto together with Yoshiteru, but Harumoto became antagonistic toward one of his senior vassals, Nagayoshi MIYOSHI. Harumoto was defeated by Nagayoshi, and Yoshiharu fled to Omi Kutsuki-dani together with Yoshiteru.

On May 4, 1550, Yoshiharu died at Omi Ano (the present-day Anou, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture).


Yoshiharu Jizo-ji Temple (in the present-day Katano City, Osaka Prefecture)

'Accounts of the Shiga District in the Province of Omi,' published in 1881, states that his tomb with tthe inscription 'Raichin-gyakushu' exists at Ano.

Record of Official Titles and Ranks

*Dates are all based on the lunar calendar
July 28, 1521: Yoshiharu was given the rank of Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade). November 24: He was renamed as Yoshiharu upon his coming of age. November 25: He was promoted to Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) and assumed Sama no kami (Captain of Samaryo, Left Division of Bureau of Horses). Concurrently, he was appointed Seii Taishogun.

February 17, 1522: He was promoted to Jushiinoge (Junior Forth Rank, Lower Grade) and became a sangi (councilor). He also assumed Sakone no chujo (Middle Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards).

January 20, 1530: He was promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) and transferred to the title of Gon Dainagon (provisional major counselor).

December 20, 1546: He also assumed Ukone no daisho (Major Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards). He resigned from the post of Seii Taishogun on the same day.

April 4, 1550: He died. On May 7, he was posthumously elevated to Juichii (Junior First Rank) and Sadaijin (minister of the left).

Persons who were granted the use of characters from Yoshiharu's name.

Sakihisa (Harutsugu) KONOE
Haruyoshi NIJO
Haruhisa AMAGO
Harumune DATE
Shingen (Harunobu) TAKEDA
Harukage NAGAO
Harumasa NANBU

[Original Japanese]