Nagaharu Bessho (1/2)Brave general of Harima country

Nagaharu Bessho

Nagaharu Bessho

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Nagaharu Bessho (1558-1580)
place of birth
Hyogo prefecture
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During the Muromachi period, there was a family that became feudal lords during the Sengoku period in Harima Province, the Bessho family. The Bessho family became independent from the Akamatsu clan, the guardians of Harima Province, and became feudal lords during the Sengoku period. It belonged to the Oda family from the time Oda Nobunaga supported Yoshiaki Ashikaga. Even during the reign of Bessho Nagaharu, he remained with the Oda side in Harima Province, but suddenly betrayed him along with other local people. From there, he barricaded himself in his castle and fought against the Oda family. This time we will look at Nagaharu Bessho of Harima Province.

What is the Bessho family?

Bessho family where Nagaharu Bessho was born.

The Bessho family is said to have been built during the Heian period by Suifusa Akamatsu, the founder of the Akamatsu clan in Harima Province (present-day southwestern Hyogo Prefecture), and Yorikiyo Akamatsu, Suifusa's grandson. During the Muromachi period, the family supported the Akamatsu family as a part of the Akamatsu family, including adopting children from the main family.

However, in the first year of Kakichi (1441), he was one of the four families (in the Muromachi period, the four families that could serve as the samurai office of the chief in charge of military and police powers; Yamana, Kyogoku, Isshiki, and Akamatsu), and the shugo daimyo of Harima, Bizen, and Mimasaka. Mitsusuke Akamatsu, who was then the leader, started the Kakichi Rebellion in which he assassinated the 6th Shogun Yoshimochi Ashikaga in his mansion. After assassinating the shogun, the Akamatsu family becomes the target of subjugation. The Bessho family, which was a part of the Akamatsu family, also declined. However, around the time of the 8th Shogun Yoshimasa Ashikaga, the Akamatsu family was restored to power, and by the time of the Onin War, they had regained their former territory of Harima and three other countries. When the Akamatsu family was restored to power, Noriharu Bessho, who became the shugo of Higashiharima, built Miki Castle and became the founder of the Bessho family's revival. This is how the Bessho family, whose residence was Miki Castle, came into being.

Independence of the Bessho family

The Bessho family belonged to the Akamatsu family.
However, the Onin War ended and the Sengoku period began. The Akamatsu family, the master family, was in conflict with the senior vassal, Sou Urakami, and began to decline. Noriharu Bessho, who built Miki Castle, and Noriharu's grandson, Shuji Bessho (Nagaharu Bessho's grandfather), expanded their influence as the Akamatsu family declined, and gradually separated from the Akamatsu family and became independent. The Bessho family became Sengoku daimyo.

The Bessho family became independent from the main family, the Akamatsu family. Higashiharima is located at the eastern end of the Kinai region, on the border between the Chugoku region and the Kinai region. It is easy to think of it as a frontier because it is at the edge, but in the east there is the Urakami family who replaced the Akamatsu family, in the west there is Takakuni Hosokawa who controlled the Kinai area, Nagayoshi Miyoshi who took hegemony after Takakuni, and in the northwest After all, it was surrounded by the newly rising Amago family and major powers. Surrounded by these great powers, Shuharu Bessho allied himself with the Kokujinshu of Harima Province, and even though Miki Castle was taken from him, the Bessho family reached its peak.

The Bessho family became Sengoku daimyo in Higashiharima, with Miki Castle as their base.

Bessho family of the Sengoku period

Shuharu Bessho fought with the surrounding powers and established a base in Higashiharima. In 1556, Shuharu's eldest son Yasuharu Bessho (father of Nagaharu Bessho) took over as head of the family. Around the time Yasuharu took over as head of the Bessho family, Nagayoshi Miyoshi gained hegemony in the Kinai region and repeatedly invaded outside the Kinai region. Yasuharu was as brave as his father and fought off the Miyoshi family.

In 1568, around the same time Yasuharu Bessho was active, Oda Nobunaga, who supported Yoshiaki Ashikaga, came to Kyoto. Yasuharu established a relationship with Oda Nobunaga from an early stage, sent troops, and became a member of the Oda family.
In this way, the Bessho family, a feudal lord from the Sengoku period who belonged to the Oda family, entered the era of Nagaharu Bessho.

Birth of Choji and inheritance of family headship

Nagaharu Bessho was born in 1558 as the eldest son of Yasuharu Bessho, and his childhood name was Kosaburo.
However, when Choji was 12 years old in 1570, his father Yasuharu passed away, and he succeeded to the headship of the family with Yoshichika Bessho and Shigemune Bessho acting as guardians.

The Bessho family belonged to the Oda family from an early stage, as they kept in touch with each other when Oda Nobunaga came to Kyoto. Nagaharu Bessho also had an audience with Nobunaga in 1575, and since then he has often visited Kyoto to greet Nobunaga.

In the spring of 1577, the Oda family invaded Kishu (present-day Wakayama Prefecture), and the Bessho family also dispatched their uncle Shigemune Bessho to assist them.

In the fall of the same year that they invaded Kishu, the Oda family sent Hideyoshi Hashiba to pacify Harima Province. The Oda family, which was controlling the Tokai and Kinki regions, first attempted to pacify Harima Province as a springboard for the Mori family's invasion of the Chugoku region.

In Harima Province, the Bessho family sided with the Oda family from an early stage, and Kodera Masashiki, the lord of Ochiku Castle in Nakaharima, fought with the Mori family and sided with the Oda family, making it a region that favored the Oda family. Hideyoshi Hashiba took hostages from the local people of Harima Province and turned them into allies, and captured Kozuki Castle and Fukuhara Castle (the western edge of Harima, Sayo Town, Hyogo Prefecture), and the Oda family occupied most of Harima.

The Oda family seized Harima Province as a starting point for their invasion of the Chugoku region. Nagaharu Bessho was in charge of part of the invasion of the Chugoku region.

Miki Battle

However, the following year in 1578, Nagaharu Bessho suddenly decided to leave the Oda family and join the Mori family.

The reasons for the Oda family's defection were that Hashiba Hideyoshi did not accept the opinion of the Bessho family at the meeting held in Kakogawa, that there were rumors that Harima Province, which had been subdued by Hideyoshi, would become Hideyoshi's territory, and that Muromachi It is thought that there was a sense of being a prestigious family, the Bessho family, a branch of the Akamatsu clan, a family with four occupations that could serve as samurai houses for the shogunate, and that there was an active push to break away from the Mori family.

Rabbit and Kado were also part of the Bessho family who had left the Oda family, but they were the lords of Eiga Castle in Higashiharima, which was under the influence of the Bessho family, and Nakaharima, which had many followers of Ishiyama Honganji Temple, which was hostile to the Oda family. Michiaki Miki and Mr. Uno, who had a strong influence in Nishi-Harima, supported the anti-Oda position. The entire Harima country became completely anti-Oda family, and the situation changed completely. The Oda family's plan to invade the Chugoku region was thwarted.
Nagaharu Bessho decided to stay in Miki Castle until the Mori family arrived with their troops. Surrounding forces joined the Bessho family, and 7,500 people gathered at Miki Castle. Because they were besieged with so many soldiers, they needed a lot of food. With the cooperation of the Mori family, who had command of the Seto Inland Sea, and the Miki family, whose Ega Castle faces the Harima Sea, the ship was transported to Miki Castle by sea across the Seto Inland Sea. Nagaharu Bessho holed up in Miki Castle and tried to welcome the Oda family.

In response, Hideyoshi Hashiba took the policy of capturing the Bessho family branch castles around Miki Castle and isolating Miki Castle. In the spring, they captured Noguchi Castle, and with reinforcements from Oda Nobutada, Oda Nobunaga's eldest son, they captured Kamiyashi Castle, Shikata Castle, Takasago Castle, and other castles.
Hideyoshi Hashiba, who steadily captured the branch castles of Miki Castle, built a surveillance castle around Miki Castle and surrounded it. The siege that began in the spring of 1578 led to food shortages, and in the fall, a tough battle ensued.

Miki's death and Choji's end

Nagaharu Bessho was in a predicament after losing his surrounding branch castles.
However, in the same autumn of 1578, Murashige Araki, the lord of Arioka Castle in Settsu Province (present-day Itami City, Hyogo Prefecture), which was located between Miki Castle and the Rokko Mountains, betrayed the Oda family and became a member of the Mori faction, like Nagaharu Bessho. Nagaharu Bessho detoured north from Settsu Province and was able to build a food route to Miki Castle.

However, the Bessho family was running out of food due to the new supply route, and from the following year, 1579, they often fought with Hideyoshi Hashiba in order to break out of the situation. Nobunaga Oda also dispatched Mitsuhide Akechi to Tanba Province, located in the north of Harima Province, to destroy the Hatano family of Yakami Castle, which had sided with the Mori side, as the local people of Harima Province betrayed him and reached a stalemate.

Harima Province was in a stalemate, but the Oda family steadily invaded the surrounding countries. Then, surprising news arrives to Nagaharu Bessho and Murashige Araki, who were with Mori.

In the fall of 1579, Ukita Naoie of Bizen Province (present-day southeastern Okayama Prefecture), who belonged to the Mori clan, defected and defected to the Oda side. Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple and Araki Murashige in Settsu Province, and Bessho Nagaharu in Harima Province, who were in opposition to the Oda clan, were separated from the Mori clan by Naoie Ukita. Murashige Araki, who betrayed the Oda family, resisted by moving from castle to castle, but his downfall continued.

Bessho Nagaharu was holed up in Miki Castle, but there was no way to bring in food, and he was left alone and without help. Miki Castle, which was already running low on food, was hit by hunger. This battle is called "Miki's Hansatsu". Mikijou had no strength left to fight.

In January 1580, Miki Castle had already run out of food, but the food raids continued. On January 14th, Hideyoshi Hashiba recommended that the lives of the castle soldiers be spared in exchange for Nagaharu Bessho and his family committing seppuku. On the 17th, Nagaharu committed seppuku, and his vassal Harutada Miyake performed the ritual.He died at the age of 23. When he died, he left behind the following haiku: ``Right now, I'm just worried, and I'm just thinking about myself and the lives of others.''

Thus, the 1 year and 10 month long siege of Miki Castle came to an end.

Later Bessho family

The Bessho family of Sengoku feudal lords was destroyed in the Battle of Miki.

Nagaharu Bessho's article continues

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Tomoyo Hazuki
Writer(Writer)I have loved history and geography since my student days, and have enjoyed visiting historical sites, temples and shrines, and researching ancient documents. He is especially strong in medieval Japanese history and European history in world history, and has read a wide range of things, including primary sources and historical entertainment novels. There are so many favorite military commanders and castles that I can't name them, but I especially like Hisashi Matsunaga and Mitsuhide Akechi, and when it comes to castles, I like Hikone Castle and Fushimi Castle. Once you start talking about the lives of warlords and the history of castles, there's a side of you that can't stop talking about them.
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