Ashikaga Yoshihide (足利義栄)

Yoshihide ASHIKAGA was the fourteenth Seii Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") in the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) (reign in 1568).


Yoshihide was born in 1538 as the first son of Yoshitsuna ASHIKAGA (Sakaikubo (head of the Sakai-based municipal government)) who was Sama no kami (Captain of Samaryo, Left Division Bureau of Horses) at the Hirajima-sho manor in Awa Province (in another theory, Yoshihide was born in 1540). His childhood name was Yoshichika (also Yoshikatsu).

After the thirteenth Shogun Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA was killed by Hisahide MATSUNAGA, one of the Miyoshi sanninshu (three chief retainers of the Miyoshi clan), in the Eiroku Incident in 1565, Yoshihide was supported as a candidate to be the fourteenth Shogun by the Miyoshi sanninshu and Hisahide MATSUNAGA, among others. However, when the Miyoshi sanninshu and Hisahide MATSUNAGA began having a power struggle during December of the same year, the Miyoshi sanninshu forced Yoshichika to order the death of Hisahide in the following month.

In June of 1566, Yoshihide sailed to the Awaji Province supported by Nagafusa SHINOHARA and Yasunaga MIYOSHI who were part of the Miyoshi political party. On November 14, he entered the Koshimizu-jo Castle in Settu Province. During the winter he entered the Fumon-ji Temple in Settsu-Tonda (present day Takatsuki City, Osaka Prefecture). Then on February 17, 1567, when Yoshihide was ordained as Sama no kami with a rank of Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) he changed his name from Yoshichika to Yoshihide.

On December 1567, Yoshihide applied to be assigned as Shogun to the Imperial Court, but was rejected because he was unable to contribute the amount of money requested by the Imperial Court.

On March 16, 1568, he was appointed as the fourteenth Shogun by the Imperial Court through a recommendation by the Miyoshi sanninshu.

The Death of Yoshihide

Even though he was assigned to Shogun, Yoshihide never entered Kyoto. This was due to both the Miyoshi sanninshu and Hisahide MATSUNAGA having a conflict and because Yoshihide was suffering from skin boils on his back.

On October 1568, Yoshihide escaped to Awa Province when Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA (younger brother of Yoshiteru) came up to Kyoto with the support of Nobunaga ODA. Soon after, Yoshihide's skin boils became worse than before and he passed away. He was twenty-nine years old. Or according to the theory stating he was born in 1538, he was thirty-one.

There are various theories on the date of his death, such as October 1, October 30, October 31, November 7, and November 19. There are also a number of theories on the location of his death, such as Awa Province, Awaji Province, or the Fumon-ji Temple in Settsu Province.

Personal Profile

Yoshihide was the only one among successive Shogun within the Muromachi bakufu whose reign ended without ever setting foot in Kyoto as the base of the bakufu. The only Shoguns in Japanese history to see the end of their rule without ever entering the base of the bakufu were Yoshihide and Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA (Yoshinobu had been assigned to Shogun at Osaka-jo Castle and went to Edo-jo Castle after leaving the post of Shogun due to Taisei Hokan (transfer of power back to the Emperor)).

Yoshihide never expressed clear opinions and was a complete puppet Shogun controlled by the Miyoshi sanninshu and Hisahide MATSUNAGA. One of the reasons for the conflict between the Miyoshi sanninshu and Hisahide MATSUNAGA is said to be due to the unanswered question as to who really supported Yoshihide.

Record of Offices and Ranks Held
Date according to old lunar calendar

Conferred to Jugoinoge on December 28, 1566.

Assigned to Sama no kami on January 5, 1567.

Appointed to Seii Taishogun on February 8, 1568. Given the right to wear kinjiki (literally, "forbidden colors," seven colors traditionally reserved for the imperial family and nobility) and allowed entry into the palace.

[Original Japanese]