Ashikaga Yoshiteru

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Ashikaga Yoshiteru (Jp. 足利 義輝; March 31, 1536June 17, 1565) was the 13th shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate who reigned from 1546 to 1565 during the late Muromachi period of Japan. He was the eldest son of the 12th shogun Ashikaga Yoshiharu. His mother is a daughter of Konoe Taneie who would later be come to called Keijuin(慶寿院). His younger brother Ashikaga Yoshiaki became 15th shogun.

Contents

Coronation

After his father Yoshiharu was forced to retire in 1546 over a politic struggle with Hosokawa Harumoto, Yoshiteru became Seii Taishogun, albeit a puppet shogun just like his father. Yoshiteru was only 11 at the time and his coronation ceremony was held at Sakamoto of Omi Province outside Kyoto.

As Puppet Shogun

No sooner had Yoshiteru been coronated, his father Yoshiharu made a truce with Harumoto to return to Kyoto. Yet, Harumoto's retainer Miyoshi Nagayoshi parted with Harumoto to take the side of Hosokawa Ujitsuna and two Hosokawa started a war that drove out Yoshiteru, his father Yoshiharu and Harumoto as well from Kyoto. On 1550, Yoshiharu passed away Omi unable to return to Kyoto.

On 1552, Yoshiteru made a peace with Nagaharu to return to Kyoto. However, on the next year, Yoshiteru and Harumoto started a war against Nagayoshi to remove his influence. WIth the help of Rokkaku Yoshikata, the war initially went well for Yoshiteru but he was driven out of Kyoto again on 1558 with a counter attack from Nagayoshi. Nagayoshi did not press on the victory to kill Yoshiteru for fear of being accused of killing a shogun, and instead signed a truce to have Yoshiteru back in Kyoto under his influence. Nagayoshi became an advisor of Yoshiteru which essentially made Yoshiteru, nothing more than a rubber stamp.

Governance

Surrounded by daimyo who only intended to use the authority of shogun for their own good, Yoshiteru yet managed to reaffirm shogun's authority by active diplomacies that touched on every places of Japan. By trying to negotiate a peace between such well known daimyo as Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin, Shimazu Takahisa and Otomo Yoshishige, and Mori Motonari and Amago Haruhisa, shogun's authority was again recognized by various daimyo. Lacking resources, yet Yoshiteru saw opportunities to give his kanji "輝" on various samurai like Mori Terumoto to become something close to a godfather. Yoshiteru was well respected for his actions and many researchers credit him as being the last effective shogun to hold the post. Oda Nobunaga and Uesugi Kenshin were among the many daimyo and samurai who travelled to Kyoto to pay a respect to shogun.

End of Reign

On 1564, the long time supporter and oppresor Nagayoshi died of illness and Yoshiteru saw an opportunity to fully reclaim the shogun's authority. However, Matsunaga Hisahide and three member council of Miyoshi who wanted to rule just as Nagayoshi had was willing to go to any length to remove Yoshiteru from the power and to have Ashikaga Yoshihide as the puppet shogun.

On 1565, Hisahide, three Miyoshi and Miyoshi Yoshitsugu laid a siege against a collection of buildings what would later become Nijo Castle where Yoshiteru lived. Yoshiteru cherished kenjutsu and had Kamiizumi Nobutsuna and Tsukahara Bokuden teach him the art and skills of using katana. Bringing out over a dozen of katana given to him by various daimyo and Yoshiteru was said to have killed a large number of enemy troops on his own throwing aside priceless katana that broke down. However, with no help arriving from daimyo that would have supported him in time, few troop under Yoshiteru and Yoshiteru himself was overrun by Miyoshi. His mother is recorded to have died on the same day.

Three years would pass before his cousin Ashikaga Yoshihide became the 14th shogun.

Yoshiteru's Legacy

From his inner strength and skills of katana that he was known to have practiced regulary, Yoshiteru was called Kengo Shogun(剣豪将軍) and was as close to a samurai and a warlord as a shogun since Ashikaga Takauji had been. His governance was highly credited but to have been killed despite all actions completely destroyed what little recognition and authority Yoshiteru built up.

The waka Yoshiteru was said to have left on his death shows how far he had dreamed and how short his archievement had been.

五月雨は 露か涙か 不如帰
我が名をあげよ 雲の上まで
Samidare ha Tsuyu ka Namida ka Hototogisu
Wagana wo ageyo Kumo no Ue made

(translation)

The rain falls, and is it my tears or the mist that surround me?
Hototogisu(a name of bird, kanji comes out as never to return) take my name and soar above clouds
Preceded by:
Ashikaga Yoshiharu
Ashikaga Shogun
1546–1565
Succeeded by:
Ashikaga Yoshihide
ja:足利義輝
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