The Shiba clan (斯波氏)

The Shiba clan was one of the Samurai families. The real family name was Genji. The family was an influential family of the Ashikaga clan, which was founded by MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni, a child of MINAMOTO no Yoshiie who was a Chinju-fu shogun (Commander-in-Chief of the Defense of the North) and head of the Kawachi-Genji which was a family line of Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan) originated from Emperor Seiwa. It was a family which became one of the Sankanrei (three families in the post of Kanrei, or shogunal deputy) of Bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) in the Muromachi period, and also became Shugo daimyo (Japanese feudal lords who used to be the provincial military governors) and Sengoku daimyo (Japanese territorial lords in the Sengoku period, or period of warring states) who ruled Echizen Province, Wakasa Province, Ecchu Province, Noto Province, Totomi Province, Shinano Province, Owari Province, Kaga Province, Awa Province, Sado Province and so on. Furthermore, the family filled the posts of Oshu Tandai (local commissioner) and Ushu Tandai for generations, and at one time it was appointed as Kyushu Tandai and Kanto Kanrei (a shogunal deputy for the Kanto region).

The origin of the Shiba clan

The Shiba clan originally took its name from the area called Shiba-gun County (Shiba-gun, Iwate Prefecture) of Mutsu Province where Ieuji ASHIKAGA became a ruler. However, it initially called itself the Ashikaga clan and it wasn't until the Muromachi period that it started to use Shiba for its family name.

Ieuji, who was considered to be the first generation of the Shiba clan, was the eldest child of Yasuuji ASHIKAGA and supposed to become a successor to the head family of Ashikaga. Since his real mother came from the Nagoe family which was a minority group in the Hojo clan, his younger brother, Yoriuji ASHIKAGA whose mother was an aunt of Tokimune HOJO, became the successor to the head family of Ashikaga. However, his social status was certainly Gokenin (Shogunal retainer) of the Kamakura Bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) and he traditionally maintained the family name of Ashikaga, distinguishing clearly between his family and the branch families of the Ashikaga clan which gradually became retainers of the Ashikaga family (the branch families adopted new family names such as the Hosokawa clan and the Isshiki clan, which made them famous).

Since the descendants of Ieuji were assigned to Owari Province for generations, the Shiba clan was also called the Owari Ashikaga clan. Among the families of the Ashikaga clan, the Owari Ashikaga clan was as influential as the main branch of the family, Mikawa Ashikaga clan (later to become the Kira clan) and served as an alternative family head of the main branch of the Ashikaga clan when the family head was still young.

After the Mongol invasions of Japan of 1274 and 1281, the Kamakura Bakufu, which turned to the tokuso (the title held by the head of the mainline Hojo clan, who monopolized the position of regents of the Kamakura shogunate) dictatorship, gradually began to oppress the other Gokenin (Shogunal retainers), resulting in increasing dissatisfaction among people. Emperor Godaigo ordered to issue rinji (the Emperor's command) to overthrow the Shogunate, which reached a major turning point. Takauji ASHIKAGA, who at first stood for the Bakufu to thwart an Emperor Godaigo's plan, gradually began to conceal his intention to overthrow the Shogunate, and after he consulted Sadayoshi KIRA, a grand person of the family, he went over to the side of the Imperial Court. Takatsune SHIBA and his eldest son, Ienaga SHIBA, followed Takauji ASHIKAGA and flourished. Later, Takauji ASHIKAGA broke away from the Kenmu Government which treated Samurai families lightly and aimed at establishing a Samurai government while receiving support from the Samurai families. In particular, Takatsune SHIBA, who was in the same family as the Ashikaga clan, performed brilliantly and contributed to defeat Yoshisada NITTA in Echizen Province who was the central figure in the downfall of the Kamakura Bakufu, so that he gained tremendous power in the early Muromachi period. Furthermore, Ienaga SHIBA, as a supreme commander of Oshu, confronted Akiie KITABATAKE and others of the Southern Court and he himself died young in battle; however, his descendants, who were of noble birth and in the same family as the Muromachi shogunate family, ended up playing a leadership role in all over the Ou (Mutsu Province and Dewa Province) region (for the Shiba clan in Ou region, refer to the Oshu Shiba clan).

The Buei family
The head of the Sankanrei (three families in the post of Kanrei, or shogunal deputy).

The Buei family was the main branch of the Shiba clan, that is, a family lineage which served the Muromachi Bakufu as Kanrei (shogunal deputy). Buei meant Hyoe-fu (Imperial Guard Division) and was called so in Chinese, deriving from the fact that the family head had been appointed as Hyoe-fu for generations.

The Shiba clan came to be appointed as Shitsuji (steward) (which was later to become the Kanrei) in the Muromachi Bakufu. However, since Bakufu was the domestic governing institution for the Shogun family, for the Shiba clan, which was almost on the same level of status as the Shogun family, holding an important post in Bakufu meant its acceptance as being lower than the Shogun family in status as well as being a retainer of the Shogun. In fact, until then, it was the Ko clan, a retainer, which had served the Ashikaga clan as Shitsuji for generations. As a result, Takatsune SHIBA was, at first, reluctant to be appointed the post of Shitsuji for which a retainer was responsible. However, Yoshimasa SHIBA, a child of Takatsune, finally took office as Shitsuji under the guardianship of Takatsune.

Although Takatsune and Yoshimasa, the father and son, became the administrator of Bakufu, they lost their positions at one point due to a conspiracy hatched by Doyo SASAKI. Upon Yoshimasa's return to the administration of Bakufu after the death of Takatsune, he conflicted with Yoriyuki HOSOKAWA, who was Kanrei. Yoshimasa became a Kanrei again after the Koryaku Coup in which the anti-Hosokawa faction was gathered together and the third Shogun Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA was asked to dismiss Yoriyuki.

Yoshimasa SHIBA assisted the Shogun Yoshimochi ASHIKAGA even after the death of Yoshimitsu, and he was so influential that he declined to accept the offer by the Imperial Court to give the posthumous title of Emperor Daijo (a Japanese Emperor who abdicated in favor of a successor) to Yoshimitsu and offered suggestions to abolish the tally trade (between Japan and the Ming dynasty).

After the establishment of Sankanrei, Shishiki (Four influential families) and Shichito (Seven influential families) in Bakufu, the Shiba clan was treated with respect as a Kanrei family together with the Hatakeyama clan and the Hosokawa clan and ended up becoming the head of the three Kanrei families by suppressing other two families. In recognition of his conquest of the Ouchi clan in the Oei Rebellion of 1399, Yoshishige SHIBA was appointed as Shugoshiki (military governor) of Echizen and Owari provinces which was kept in the order of succession after that. However, the Shiba clan began to fall into decline after the death of Yoshimasa. Mitsutane SHIBA, a nephew of Yoshimasa, incurred the displeasure of the Shogun Yoshimochi ASHIKAGA in 1414, lost his position as Shugoshiki of Kaga Province, and retired to Mt. Koya. After Yoshiatsu SHIBA, a grandchild of Yoshimasa who had been given the Kanryo shoku (a post of Chief Adviser) in 1409, was soon dismissed, the Shiba clan had been treated coldly by Bakufu for a long time until the inauguration of the sixth Shogun Yoshinori ASHIKAGA.

Confusion and decline

The Shiba clan with such a high social standing as the head of the Sankanrei (Three deputies) was so powerfulthat both the head family and the branch families of the Shiba clan based in Oshu (the Kosuiji Shiba clan, the Osaki clan, the Mogami clan, the Tendo clan, and so on) were fairly prosperous at first. For the central government, however, the Hosokawa clan secured the political foothold in the Kinai region (the five capital provinces surrounding the ancient capital of Kyoto) and the Hatakeyama clan possessed the territories around the Kinai region. On the other hand, the territories of the Shiba clan, Owari Province and Echizen Province, were away from Kyoto and separated each other. As the family head frequently stayed in Kyoto, he could not help but entrusting Shugodai (Deputy military governor) with the ruling matters. Therefore, the real power in its own territories was gradually taken away by Shugodai and Jushin (chief retainer) including the Asakura clan and the Oda clan. When the Onin War started, the above situation resulted in Gekokujo (revolt of vassals against their lords) which quickly began in Echizen Province where the Shiba clan was serving as Shugoshiki.

On the eve of the Onin War, a conflict occurred over the succession to the position of family head in the Buei family, the main branch of the Shiba family, after the death of Yoshitake SHIBA. Yoshitoshi SHIBA who was adopted by the Shiba Ono clan, a branch family of the Shiba clan, and Yoshikado SHIBA who came from the Shibukawa clan fought over the reign of the family. That succession dispute partly caused the outbreak of the Onin War in 1467 in connection with the succession to the position of family head in the Ashikaga Shogunal family and that in the Hatakeyama clan. During the Onin War, Yoshitoshi and Yoshikado went down to their own territories to reign the whole region; however, the Shiba clan lost most of its own territories after Totomi Province was captured by the Imagawa clan and Echizen Province by the Asakura clan, and only a descendant of Yoshitoshi remained in Owari Province as recommended by the Oda clan, which was Shugodai.

Furthermore, Yoshitoshi SHIBA, a son of Yoshikado SHIBA, succeeded Kuratani kubo of Echizen, a branch family of the Muromachi shogunate family, and became a figurehead of Echizen Province as recommended by the Asakura clan.

Although the Shiba clan ended up holding only Owari Province, it did not become a Kairai (puppet) of the Oda clan immediately after the Onin War. The Shiba clan seems to have maintained the authority of Shugo judging from the fact that Yoshihiro SHIBA participated in Rokkaku subjugation by the Muromachi Shogun with the Oda clan and that Yoshitatsu SHIBA repeatedly went to war to recapture Totomi Province. When Yoshitatsu was defeated by Ujichika IMAGAWA and failed to recapture Totomi Province and Yoshimune SHIBA became the family head in early life, the Oda clan extended its influence further and completely surpassed the Shiba clan, the Shugo.

The fall of the Buei family

An incident occurred for the Shiba clan in 1554, in which Yoshimune SHIBA was killed by Shugodai, Nobutomo ODA. His legitimate child, Yoshikane SHIBA, asked Nobunaga ODA for help. For Nobunaga, Nobutomo was the head family and lord. Nobunaga took advantage of the fact that Nobutomo killed Shugo, the Shiba clan, which meant a rebellion against Shugo, and succeeded in destroying Nobutomo. Furthermore, Nobunaga temporarily retired and returned his whole territories to the Shiba clan merely for form's sake to deceive several other clans, and entered into an alliance with the Kira clan and the Imagawa clan.

The story goes like this: On the occasion of the formation of the alliance between the Shiba clan and the Kira clan, Nobunaga accompanied Yoshikane to have a meeting with Yoshiaki KIRA from the Kira clan, and they caused a confrontation over the seating order. Although the Kira clan had the succession right determining that 'the Kira clan will become Shogun after Ashikaga Shogun Family falls,' Nobunaga insisted that the Shiba clan was equally high in status in Bakufu, maintaining the family name of Ashikaga after the Kamakura period. At any rate, the two families entered into an alliance as best they could even through they had an argument, but ended up conspiring together against Nobunaga.

In 1561, Yoshikane plotted to subdue Nobunaga by gaining Yoshiaki KIRA and Ishibashidono, one family of the Shiba clan and a grand person in Bakufu, as his ally; however, he was expelled since the plot was disclosed before something happened. That was in effect the fall the Shiba clan.

Hideyori MORI, the first younger brother of Yoshikane, served Nobunaga ODA, and the third younger brother, Yoshifuyu TSUGAWA, served Nobukatsu ODA, the second son of Nobunaga. However, the main branch of the Shiba clan never regained the daimyo status. The only case in which a family member of the Shiba clan was confirmed later was the member as Karo (Senior retainer) of Toshiie MAEDA.

The Oshu Shiba clan
The Oshu Shiba clan refers to the branch families of the Shiba clan which established themselves in Oshu region. It consisted of the Kosuiji Shiba clan, the Osaki clan, the Mogami clan, the Tendo clan (Originally the Satomi clan, on the line of Iekane SHIBA), the Ishibashi clan, and the Shionomatsu clan.

The Osaki clan
To begin with, Shiba-gun County of Mutsu Province is said to have been the origin of the family name of the Shiba clan, so the Oshu region was the birthplace for the Shiba clan.
During the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan), Ienaga SHIBA and then Iekane SHIBA exercised the right of military command over the Ou region as 'Supreme Commander of Oshu.'
Afterward, the Supreme Commander of Oshu was raised in status of the Oshu Kanrei which held not only the right of military command but also the authorities for Kendan (Policing and adjudication authority) and Sata (Order), securement of fief in the ruling provinces and the recommendation for rewards, and so on. During the period of the Kanno Disturbance, Kuniuji HATAKEYAMA (Oshu Kanrei [governor of Oshu]), Sadaie KIRA, and others were appointed as the Supreme Commander of Oshu, which was later taken up by the Shiba Oshu family, a descendant of Iekane SHIBA, and kept in the order of succession after that.

Since the period of the Northern and Southern Courts, in the Ou region, there was a unique system called 'Bungun' (Independent county) in which the powerful Kokujin (local lords) were given the right of military command and of Kendan in each county, which meant the great influence of the powerful Kokujin. The Shiba Oshu family, the Oshu Kanrei, considerably tended to confine itself in the Osaki-gun County under the Bungun system and ended up being called the Osaki clan. The Ou region was at one time incorporated into the jurisdiction of the Kamakura Government, but after the Oshu Tandai was established, the Osaki clan filled the position of Tandai for generations. Although Tandai (Local commissioner) is thought to have possessed the same authority as Kanrei did, it was not so influential as in the period of the Oshu Kanrei, due to the facts that the powerful Kokujin in the Oshu region later became 'the Kyoto fuchishu' by entering into the feudal master-servant relationship directly with the Shogun family and that the branch families of the Kamakura kubo (Governor-general of the Kanto region) including Sasagawa Gosho (Palace) and Inamura Gosho entered into the southern part of the Oshu region and exercised influence.

Before long, the Osaki clan ended up being pressured by the expanding Date clan and declined. Since Yoshinao OSAKI was not able to suppress the disturbance in the family unassisted, he obtained assistance from the Date clan by receiving a child for adoption and put down the disturbance. Afterward, Yoshinao excluded the adopted child, Yoshinobu OSAKI, and succeeded in becoming independent, but continued to be pressured by the Date clan. When Masamune DATE went on an expedition against Osaki (a siege of Osaki), Yoshinao was forced to engage in a bitter struggle; however, he barely kept the family in existence thanks to Haruuji KUROKAWA, a branch family of the Mogami clan, who switched to the Osaki side.

However, the Osaki clan was finally deprived of its status because it did not respond to an order to participate in the Odawara offensive. The descendants served the Mogami clan.

The Mogami clan
Around the same period of time as the Oshu Tandai was established, the Ushu Tandai was also established in Dewa province, and its position was kept in the order of the succession by the Shiba Dewa family, a branch family of the Shiba Oshu family. That particular family was the Mogami clan.

The Mogami clan before long came under the umbrella of the Date clan, becoming a Kairai (Puppet); however, it gradually recovered its independence, and expanded its territory to Dewa province under Yoshiaki MOGAMI, which caused a fierce conflict with the Uesugi clan over the Shonai region. Afterward, it participated in the Siege of Odawara led by Kanpaku (Chief adviser to the Emperor) Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI and was given an approval for its territory as Daimyo of 200,000 koku (approximately 36 million liters of crop yield). After the death of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, it participated in the Eastern Camp under the command of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, but was driven into an awkward position when attacked by Kagekatsu UESUGI of the Western Camp. However, when it was reported that the Western Camp was defeated in Sekigahara, the Uesugi's forces withdrew and Mogami succeeded in capturing the Shonai Region. In recognition of its activities, the Mogami family was ranked as a great Daimyo of 580,000 koku. However, a family dispute occurred during the time of Yoshitoshi MOGAMI, a grandson of Yoshiaki, and the Mogami family was deprived of its status by the order of the Edo Bakufu, resulting in the fall of the Mogami clan as a Daimyo.

Although Yoshitoshi was newly given 10,000 koku (approximately 1.8 million liters of crop yield) in Omi Province, the stipend was reduced to 5,000 koku after the death of Yoshitoshi due to his son Yoshitomo MOGAMI being too young, and the descendants continued to exist as Kotaiyoriai (alternate yoriai, a family status of samurai warriors in the Edo period). Yoshitada YAMANOBE, who was an uncle of Yoshitoshi and caused the family troubles, was selected by Yorifusa TOKUGAWA as a retainer and his descendants continued to exist as the Yamanobe family of Karo (Chief retainer) of the Mito Domain.

The Kosuiji Shiba clan

The family of the Shiba clan which prospered using the Kosuiji-jo Castle as its base (Oshu Shiba-gosho family) was a direct-line descendant of Ienaga SHIBA. Although a simple family tree was more or less taken up in the "Zoku Gunshoruiju" (Second series Collection of the Japanese historical materials compiled in the Edo period), it is not necessarily certain without enough supporting documents. The Kosuiji Shiba clan was such a distinguished family that it was referred to as the honorific titles like 'Shiba-gosho' and 'Oku no Shiba-dono' and was on the same level as the Osaki clan in the Shosatsurei (Remarks on the Concept of Epistolary Etiquette). In the Rebellion of Waga/Hienuki which occurred in 1435, it took command of the clans in the northern part of Oshu region in place of the Osaki clan. At the time of Akitaka SHIBA, it actively expanded its territory as it attacked the TOZAWA clan of Shizukuishi, Iwate-gun County (Shizukuishi cho, Iwate Prefecture) ousting the clan to Kakunodate. Akitaka assigned his illegitimate children to new territories and they were referred to as 'Shizukuishi-gosho' and 'Isari-gosho' deriving from the names of the places they inhabited.

Furthermore, he excercised his power by actively arranging marriages and adoptions with the Waga clan, the Masuzawa clan which was a branch family of the Asonuma clan, and the Kunohe clan. After the death of Akitaka, the pressure from the Nanbu clan increased and at the time of Akinao SHIBA, Kichibe TAKADA, a younger brother of Masazane KUNOHE who was adopted into the family of his bride, switched to the side of the Nanbu clan and seduced Yoshinori IWASHIMIZU and Hideshige OGAYU. In 1586, Since Akinao attacked Yoshinori IWASHIMIZU, a retainer who communicated secretly with the Nanbu clan, he was attacked by Nobunao NANBU. Although Akinao issued mobilization orders in his territory, many of the retainers were estranged and surrendered to the Nanbu forces or were confined to their residences, and the only small number of retainers including Yoshinaga IWASHIMIZU, an elder brother of Yoshinori, Karo (chief retainer) Hosokawa Nagato no kami (Governor of Nagato Province) and Oinosuke INEFUJI rushed to the Kosuiji-jo Castle. Akinao abandoned the Kosuiji-jo Castle and escaped to the place where the Osaki clan resided. Yoshinaga IWASHIMIZU was killed in battle in the Kosuiji-jo Castle. After that, Akinao SHIBA went wandering about the country, and his descendants are regarded to have served the Nanbu clan or the Nijo family.

Other families

The Ono Shiba clan

It was a family established when Yoshitane SHIBA, the fifth son of Takatsune SHIBA, obtained Ono-gun County in Echizen Province as his territory. Yoshitane actively worked in the center of Bakufu like being appointed as the head of Kozamurai dokoro (an office of officers to guard Shogun in attendance), and was such an influential Daimyo as to be appointed as Shugo (provincial constable) of Wakasa Province and also Kaga Province. However, when Mitsutane SHIBA, a successor of Yoshitane, offended Shogun Yoshimochi ASHIKAGA in 1414 and was placed under house arrest in Mt. Koya, he lost the position of the Shugo of Kaga Province. Mochitane SHIBA, a child of Mitsutane SHIBA, had repeated confrontations with the Kai clan, Echizen Shugodai, and after a while Yoshitoshi SHIBA, a child of Mochitane SHIBA, came in as Koshi (an inheritor) of the Buei family, which developed into the Battle of Choroku.

As for the Ono Shiba clan, the Okuda clan was separated from Ujitane SHIBA, a child of Mitsutane SHIBA, and used the family name of the Hori clan in the Sengoku period (period of warring states), which became the lord of the Muramatsu Domain in the Edo period. Furthermore, the Hachisuka clan which later became the lord of the Tokushima Domain called itself a descendant of Masatane SHIBA, a child of Mochitane SHIBA.