Sozen Yamana (1/2)General of the Western Army during the Onin War

Sozen Yamana

Sozen Yamana

Article category
Yamana Sozen (1404-1473)
place of birth
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This story takes place in the middle of the Muromachi period, before what is commonly known as the Sengoku period. An outstanding figure was born in the Yamana family, one of the four positions that supported the Muromachi Shogunate. This is Sozen Yamana. Sozen was born as the third son, but after taking over as head of the family, he expanded his power. This was especially the time when the shogunate entered a period of instability, gaining a foothold in the constant struggle for power. In his later years, when the Onin War occurred, which involved daimyo from various countries, he became the general of the Western Army.

Mr. Yamana

The ancestors of the Yamana clan were vassals who followed Minamoto no Yoritomo from an early stage during the Kamakura period, and were therefore given preferential treatment.

In the Nanbokucho period, he followed his relative Takauji Ashikaga and fought on the side of the Northern Court in the San'in region. In recognition of this achievement, the Yamana clan was appointed by the Muromachi shogunate as the shugo (shugo) of each region. Hoki Province (western Tottori Prefecture), Tango Province (northwest Kyoto Prefecture), Kii Province (Wakayama Prefecture), Inaba Province (eastern Tottori Prefecture), Tamba Province (north-central Hyogo Prefecture), Yamashiro Province (Kyoto Prefecture), Izumi Province The clan ruled over (southern Osaka Prefecture), Mimasaka Province (central Okayama Prefecture), Tajima Province (central Hyogo Prefecture), Bingo Province (eastern Hiroshima Prefecture), and Harima Province (western Hyogo Prefecture). It is also called ``Rokubuichi-dono'' because it ruled over 11 of the 66 countries in Japan.

The family was also designated by Yoshimitsu Ashikaga to be a family of four positions, with a samurai office chief (head responsible for leading the samurai and adjudicating court cases), and was a family that had both substance and name.

Birth of the 4th Shogun Yoshimochi Ashikaga and Sozen Yamana

Sozen Yamana was born in 1404 as the third son of Tokihiro Yamana, the head of the Yamana clan. His name was given a character from the 4th Shogun Yoshimochi Ashikaga, and he used to call himself Mochitoyo, but in his later years he became a priest and took the name Sozen (throughout this story, he will unify his name with Sozen).

Sozen was born in the Muromachi period, when the fourth Shogun Yoshimochi Ashikaga was the Seii Taishogun. Yoshimochi was born as the eldest son of the third shogun, Yoshimitsu Ashikaga, and was given the title of shogun by his father, Yoshimitsu. The period during which Yoshimochi ruled was also a period of relative stability, even throughout the Muromachi period.
In December 1421, Sozen made his first campaign by subjugating the Kokujinshu of Bingo Province (eastern part of Hiroshima Prefecture) together with Inaba Shugo Yamana Hiraka.

Inheritance of the family headship of the 5th Shogun Yoshitaka Ashikaga and Sozen Yamana

In 1423, the shogun Yoshimochi Ashikaga handed over the post of shogun to his son Yoshitaka. Yoshitaka became the shogun under the guardianship of his father Yoshimochi, the fifth shogun Yoshitaka Ashikaga. However, in 1425, Yoshiyoshi passed away after about two years on the throne.

His father, Yoshimochi, essentially ran the shogunate after Yoshikazu's death, but Yoshimochi also passed away in 1428. At the time of his death, neither Yoshimochi nor his previous child, Yoshitsune, had any children. In other words, the family line of Yoshimochi Ashikaga, the eldest son of the third shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga, ends here. Moreover, Yoshimochi died without choosing a successor.

As a result of discussion, senior Shogunate retainers, including the Kanrei Hatakeyama clan who ran the Shogunate, decided to choose the next Shogun by drawing lots from among the children of the third Shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga (the younger brothers of the deceased Fourth Shogun Yoshimochi Ashikaga). Ta.
The person who became the shogun was Yoshinori Ashikaga, the fifth son of the third shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga. Yoshinori became the 6th Shogun Yoshinori Ashikaga.

Now, this is Sozen Yamana. The eldest son of the Yamana family, Mitsutoki Yamana, died in 1420. The heirs of the Yamana family were now the second son, Mochihiro Yamana, and the third son, Sozen Yamana.
In 1428, his father, Tokihiro Yamana, fell ill and decided to make Sozen his successor. However, Yoshinori Ashikaga, who became the sixth shogun, ordered his second son Mochihiro Yamana, who was serving as his aide, to become his successor.

His father, Tokihiro Yamana, recovered from his illness and postponed the question of succession, but in 1431, his second son, Tokihiro Yamana, was rejected by the Shogun Yoshinori Ashikaga. In this way, Sozen Yamana succeeded to the headship of the head family of the Yamana family. His second son, Mochihiro Yamana, was dissatisfied with this and raised an army against Sozen, but he was attacked and defeated by Sozen.

In 1433, Sozen Yamana became the head of the Yamana family in place of his father, becoming the shugo daimyo of Tajima, Bingo, Aki, and Iga, and in 1440 becoming head of the shogunate samurai office at Kaneyama Castle. It became a protection. Sozen Yamana was in his mid-thirties and had become a powerful man who had both substance and form.

The 6th Shogun Yoshinori Ashikaga and the Kakichi Rebellion

Now, Yoshinori Ashikaga, the 6th Shogun, was chosen by lottery (or you could literally say he won).
Yoshinori was also known as the ``Lottery Shogun,'' and he wanted a political system in which power was concentrated in the Shogun. His older brother, Yoshimochi, who was the fourth shogun, and his nephew, Yoshimochi's son, the fifth shogun, Yoshiyuki, attempt to restore the authority of the shogun, which has declined over the past two generations.
He worked tirelessly, directly conducting trials that had previously been carried out by the shogun's vassals, and intervening in disputes over the succession of local shugo (lords of the country). However, the desire for excessive concentration of power led to a reign of terror, leading to an era known as ``universal fear.''

Meanwhile, an incident occurs. From around 1437, there were rumors that the shugo daimyo of Harima, Mitsusuke Akamatsu, would be killed by the shogun. Furthermore, in 1440, Yoshinori Ashikaga confiscated the territory of Mitsusuke's younger brother and gave it to Sadamura Akamatsu, a branch of the Akamatsu family, which was an important branch of the Akamatsu clan.
and June of the first year of Kakichi (1441). In the name of consolation, Mitsusuke Akamatsu requests Shogun Yoshinori Ashikaga to hold a ``Shogun Onari'' (a political ceremony in which the shogun visits the house of his vassal and holds a feast). Yoshinori Ashikaga accepts this offer and visits the Akamatsu residence with his close aides, including daimyo and court nobles. At this time, Sozen Yamana was also accompanying him. This happened when a banquet was being held at the mansion and we were watching Sarugaku. All the doors of the mansion were closed, and Mitsusuke Akamatsu killed the general. The daimyo and court nobles who were accompanying him were also killed and injured, and some members of the Yamana family were killed on the spot, but Sozen succeeded in escaping from the mansion. This is the ``Kakichi Rebellion.''

The Akamatsu clan, including Mitsuke Akamatsu, thought that the shogunate was going to subdue them, and had planned to commit suicide in advance. However, after such an incident occurred, the city became quiet and tried to assess the situation. At nightfall, he set the mansion on fire, held Yoshinori Ashikaga's head on the tip of his spear, and retreated to Harima Province.

Suppression of the Akamatsu clan by the 7th Shogun Yoshikatsu Ashikaga and Sozen Yamana

The sixth shogun, Yoshinori Ashikaga, died in the Kakichi Rebellion. The Akamatsu family, which caused the rebellion, returned to its territory of Harima Province. The Shogunate held discussions about the next general. The next shogun was decided to be Ashikaga Yoshinori's son, 8-year-old Yoshikatsu. Officially, Yoshikatsu assumed office the following year at the age of 9 and became the 7th Shogun Yoshikatsu Ashikaga. After this appointment, Mochikuni Hatakeyama became Kanrei and assisted the 7th Yoshikatsu.

Now, this is Yamana Sozen right after the Kakichi Rebellion broke out. Sozen returned to his territory, Tajima Province, and led the Yamana clan to invade Akamatsu Mitsusuke's Harima Province. The invasion was successful and Sozen was able to take control of the Harima area, and at the same time, the Akamatsu clan began a campaign to recapture Harima country.

It was in the 3rd year of Kakichi (1443). He adopted the daughter of Hiroki Yamana, whose family was killed in the Kakichi Rebellion, and married her to Norihiro Ouchi, who was the shugo daimyo of Suo and Nagato. The son of this couple was Masahiro Ouchi, who teamed up with Sozen during the Onin War and became the main force of the Western Army.

In 1447, he also adopted Hiroki Yamana's daughter and married her to Katsumoto Hosokawa, Kanrei of the shogunate. Katsumoto Hosokawa became the general of the Eastern Army who opposed Sozen during the Onin War. In other words, Western army general Sozen Yamana was his father-in-law (father-in-law), and Eastern army general Katsumoto Hosokawa was his son-in-law (son-in-law). However, Sozen and Katsumoto joined forces to fight through the political conflict until the Onin War began.
Immediately after the seventh shogun, Yoshikatsu Ashikaga, took office, Sozen Yamana began to use his relationships by marriage to establish himself.

The 8th Shogun Yoshimasa Ashikaga and Bunsei's political change

Yoshinori Ashikaga, the 7th shogun, was the son of the 6th shogun Yoshinori Ashikaga, who died in the Kakichi War. However, Yoshikatsu Ashikaga died young in 1443, nine months after taking office. Mochikuni Hatakeyama, the kanrei, campaigned and consulted with those around him, and as a result, he appointed Yoshimasa, the son of the 6th shogun Yoshinori Ashikaga and the younger brother of the 7th shogun Yoshikatsu Ashikaga, as shogun. The 8th shogun, Yoshimasa Ashikaga, was chosen to become a shogun at the age of 8.

Sozen Yamana'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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