Naoie Ukita (1/2)One of the three great owl men of the Sengoku period

Naoie Ukita

Naoie Ukita

Article category
Ukita Naoie (1529-1581)
place of birth
Okayama Prefecture
Related castles
Okayama Castle

Okayama Castle

During the Sengoku period, there was a military commander in Bizen Province (present-day Okayama Prefecture) who suddenly became a Sengoku daimyo, Naoie Ukita. Present-day Okayama Prefecture (Bizen, Bicchu, and Mimasaka) was ruled by the Akamatsu family as shugo daimyo during the Sengoku period. However, the Akamatsu family was replaced by the Urakami family, who were vassals of the Shugodai, and the Ukita family served the Urakami family. This time we will take a look at how Naoie, who was born into the Ukita family, became a daimyo.

What is Naoie Ukita's Ukita family?

The Ukita family where Naoie Ukita was born.
The Ukita family was a Sengoku feudal lord in Bizen Province (present-day southeastern Okayama Prefecture). Originally, the surname ``Ukita'' was derived from a place name, but the direct lineage changed the name to ``Ukita,'' and the descendants called it ``Ukita.''

The Ukita family was a daimyo that emerged relatively late, and the surname Ukita first appears in literature as a local feudal lord of Bizen Province in the middle of the Muromachi period. During the Muromachi period, it belonged to the Akamatsu family, the shugo daimyo of Harima, Bizen, and Mimasaka, but when the Urakami family, the shugo of the Akamatsu family, came to power, the Ukita Yoshiya became vassals of the Urakami family.

Thus, Ukita Naoie was born as the son of a vassal of the Urakami clan, a feudal lord in Bizen Province.

Naoie's birth and Urakami vassals

Naoie Ukita was born in 1529 at Toishi Castle as the grandson of Yoshiie Ukita (his father is said to be Koie Ukita, but it is unknown).

After his birth, in 1531, the Sengoku daimyo of Bizen Province, Urakami Muramune, was defeated and killed, and Bizen Province was thrown into great turmoil, and his grandfather Yoshiie Ukita and his father were assassinated. After wandering around, Ukita Naoie served Munekage Urakami and distinguished himself. The Urakami family served as the primary vassals of the Akamatsu family, which was the shugo daimyo of Harima Province and other areas. Munekage Urakami's older brother, Masamune Urakami, also served the Akamatsu family, but Munekage Urakami became independent from his older brother in Bizen Province and became a feudal lord during the Sengoku period. Under the independent Urakami Munekage, Ukita Naoie strengthened his control by killing Morizane Shimamura, who was a master of scheming and assassinated Ukita Yoshiie, his father-in-law Katsumasa Nakayama, and Mototsune Mujisho, the lord of Ryunokuchi Castle. Contribute to As a result of these assassinations and plots carried out by Naoie Ukita, in later years he was recognized as one of the three great owlmen of the Sengoku period along with Dosan Saito and Hisashi Matsunaga, along with Motonari Mori of Aki Province and Tsunehisa Amago of Izumo Province. They are known as the "Three Great Commanders of the Chugoku Region." These evaluations of Naoie Ukita were made in ``Taikoki'' written by Hoan Kose in the early Edo period, and were dramatized in military chronicles of the time. On the other hand, there is also the fact that he murdered his relatives, so it seems that the image was not entirely created.

Also, when he attacked his father-in-law, Katsumasa Nakayama, it is said to be under the direction of his master, Munekage Urakami, but by attacking Katsumasa Nakayama, he took possession of Bizen Kameyama Castle, which was Katsumasa's residence. Naoie moved from Toishi Castle to Kameyama Castle, and for 15 years before moving to Okayama Castle, he strengthened his influence in Bizen Province centering on this castle.

While wandering around Bizen Province as a child, Naoie learned about politics by visiting places such as Bizen Fukuoka, which was an area of economic development, and also witnessed repeated assassinations in the chaotic Bizen Province. For this reason, he found a way to survive political battles such as assassinations and murders.

Expansion of Naoie's power and development of Okayama Castle

Naoie Ukita was expanding his power around Kameyama Castle while serving Munekage Urakami.

However, around the same time, Iechika Mimura, a local local clan from Bicchu (present-day western Okayama Prefecture), rose to prominence. Mimura Iechika belonged to the Mori family, a daimyo in Aki Province located in the west, and expanded his influence to Bizen Province in the east. In 1565, Mimura Iechika invaded Mimasaka Province (present-day northern Okayama Prefecture) and Bizen Province, which were under the influence of Urakami Munekage and Ukita Naoie, and engaged in repeated skirmishes. Angered by this, Naoie Ukita hired two ronin brothers from Awa Province, Toshimichi Endo and Hidekiyo, whom he knew. The brothers attacked Iechika Mimura, who was in talks with senior vassals, with handguns. This was an assassination with a gun, which was rare even during the Sengoku period.

Naoie Ukita, who defeated Iechika Mimura of Bizen Province, continued to expand the power of Bizen Province under Munekage Urakami. After the fall of his in-laws, such as Mototeru Matsuda, the lord of Kanagawa Castle, and Munetaka Konmitsu, the lord of Okayama Castle, he incorporated them into his own territory and expanded it.

In 1570, he acquired Okayama Castle (then called Ishiyama Castle) and moved from Kameyama Castle to renovate the castle and form a castle town. In particular, the Saigoku Kaido road that runs north of the castle will be rerouted so that it runs along the castle grounds, in an effort to attract a flow of people to Okayama Castle. It attracted merchants from commercial areas such as Bizen Fukuoka and Saidaiji in the eastern part of Bizen Province, and developed it into a castle town. Naoie Ukita worked to improve distribution and economic development by improving roads. This led to the development of Okayama that continues to this day.

Independence from the Urakami family and the expulsion of Munekage Urakami

Now, in the 11th year of Eiroku (1568), Oda Nobunaga, a daimyo from Owari Province, Mino Province (present-day Gifu Prefecture, western Aichi Prefecture), went to Kyoto to worship Yoshiaki Ashikaga.

The following year, 1569, Ashikaga Yoshiaki became the 15th shogun of the Muromachi shogunate, but Urakami Munekage, the head of the Ukita Naoie family, did not submit to Yoshiaki, who became the shogun. Thereupon, Ukita Naoie independently contacted Yoshiaki Ashikaga and Nobunaga Oda, and then joined forces with Masahide Akamatsu of Nishi-Harima to rebel against Munekage Urakami. Oda Nobunaga dispatched members of the Kinai clan who belonged to him to support Ukita Naoie.

However, in the first year of Genki (1570), Oda Nobunaga was unable to control the internal affairs of Bizen Province due to a series of wars, including the withdrawal of Kanegasaki, the Battle of Anegawa, and the first siege of Nobunaga. Nobunaga also had the local nationals sent to Kinai withdraw from Bizen Province and focused his efforts on the defense of Kinai. Freed from the threat of Oda Nobunaga, Munekage Urakami regained his breath and attacked Akamatsu Masahide's Tatsuno Castle, forcing it to surrender. Yoshiaki Ashikaga mediated peace between Urakami Munekage and Oda Nobunaga, and around this time Ukita Naoie became completely independent from the Urakami family and became a Sengoku daimyo.

In 1574, Ukita Naoie allied himself with the Mori family, a major power in the Chugoku region. He then plotted to undermine the shogunate by reaching out to the Kokujinshu of Bizen, Bicchu, and Mimasaka (present-day Okayama Prefecture), centered around Munekage Urakami, and various forces under Munekage Urakami.

In the 3rd year of Tensho (1575), senior vassals such as Yukio Akashi, who was a close confidant of Urakami Munekage, were forced to comply and the Urakami family was dismantled. Munekage Urakami could not stand this, and after being defeated at the battle of Tenjinyama Castle, he retreated to Harima Province. Here Ukita Naoie took control of Bizen Province, Bicchu, and part of Mimasaka.

However, there were still forces that supported the Urakami family within the territory that was under Ukita Naoie's control. Munekage Urakami, who retreated to Harima Province, contacted these forces and incited anti-Ukita movements. Ukita Naoie was plagued by small-scale rebellions.

Then, in the 6th year of Tensho (1578), the Urakami remnants rose up all at once and occupied Kojima, and then Munekage Urakami seized and occupied Tenjinyama Castle. It took Ukita Naoie several months to put down this armed uprising. However, by successfully suppressing the clan, they were able to expel and subjugate the Urakami clan's forces from the area under their control, and clearly establish control over the territory.

The Mori family in the Chugoku region and the Oda family in the Kinai region

Now, Ukita Naoie had been in repeated secret battles with Urakami Munekage. During this time, Oda Nobunaga, who was in control of the Kinai region, expelled the shogun Yoshiaki Ashikaga, and in the fall of 1577 dispatched Hashiba Hideyoshi (later Toyotomi Hideyoshi) to Harima Province to begin an invasion of the Chugoku region. However, a feudal lord from Harima Province who belonged to the Oda family betrayed the Oda family and joined the Mori family.

Naoie Ukita's article continues

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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