Miyoshis government (三好政権)

Miyoshi's government refers to a Japanese military government that existed from 1549 through 1568. Since the Miyoshi clan governed only a limited region, including Shikoku and Kinai, sometimes the Miyoshi's government is regarded just as one of the government of a daimyo in the Sengoku period. However, the facts that the Miyoshi's government governed Kyoto, which was then the center of Japanese politics in Japan, that it controlled the shogunate government by making the shogun of Muromachi Bakufu as puppet, and that it had the Imperial Court under their protection, differentiate it as a central government from other local government of daimyo in the same period.

Establishment of the government

The Miyoshi clan was a family branched from the Ogasawara clan, the Shugo (provincial constables) of Shinano Province. During the time of Yukinaga MIYOSHI, the Miyoshi clan had the opportunity to expand their power to the Kinai region when they served Shogunal Deputy Katsumoto HOSOKAWA and Masamoto HOSOKAWA and gained power. During the time of the confusion after the Eisho no Sakuran (assassination of Masamoto HOSOKAWA), Yukinaga sided Sumimoto HOSOKAWA and fought, but lost against Takakuni HOSOKAWA and was executed. Other members of the Miyoshi clan also died in the battlefield or were executed, including Nagahide MIYOSHI.

The grandson of Yukinaga, Motonaga MIYOSHI served Rokuro HOSOKAWA (later Harumoto HOSOKAWA) and defeated Takakuni HOSOKAWA. Then, the Miyoshi clan gained power to become senior vassal who practically supported the Hosokawa clan. In 1532, however, Motonaga was killed by Harumoto who believed the false charge made by Masanaga MIYOSHI. The Miyoshi clan was allowed to have Motonaga as their heir, Nagayoshi MIYOSHI, to take over the family head; however, since Nagayoshi was as young as 10 years old at that time, the Miyoshi clan temporarily retreated.

Nagayoshi became an intelligent and brave busho (Japanese military commander) left a lot of military exploits as a vassal of the Hosokawa clan, including at the suppression of Nagamasa KIZAWA (the battle of the Taihei-ji Temple), battles against Ujitsuna HOSOKAWA and Naganori YUSA. He then became the most powerful senior vassal under Harumoto who was given the post of local governor in 17 places in the Kinnai region, including Kawachi Province.

In 1548, Nagayoshi reconciled with Naganori YUSA and welcomed his daughter as his lawful wife, and at the same time, backed up Ujitsuna HOSOKAWA and disobeyed Harumoto. This was because Harumoto and his senior vassal Masanaga MIYOSHI was his father's foe. In 1549, Harumoto and Nagayoshi fought against each other at the Battle of Eguchi and Nagayoshi won and Masanaga died. Harumoto and the shogun Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA who was backed up by Harumoto ran away to the Omi Province. The Hosokawa's government fell apart and then the Miyoshi's government was established.

Expansion of power

In 1552, Nagayoshi reconciled with Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA and welcomed Yoshiteru to Kyoto, and at the same time, he made Ujitsuna HOSOKAWA as kanrei (shogunal deputy). These two were puppets for Nagayoshi and here the Miyoshi's government with the powerful persons of the Muromachi bakufu of shogun and kanrei practically began to function. However, the conflicts with the shogun Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA, who aimed to restore the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) Japanese feudal government, continued. Nagayoshi kept expelling Yoshiteru to Omi and taking him back, meanwhile, Nagayoshi was attempted to be assassinated a few times. They finally reconciled in 1558, intermediated by the arrangement made by Yoshitaka ROKKAKU.

Nagayoshi expanded the territory to include Kinai and Shikoku regions, and formed a large territory consisting of more than 11 Provinces such as Yamashiro Province, Settsu Province, Awa Province, Sanuki Province, Harima Province, Iyo Province, Tanba Province, Izumi Province, Awaji Province, Kawachi, Yamato Province, and a part of Wakasa Province. Since the Imagawa clan controlled 3 provinces, the Takeda clan, Kai Province controlled 2, and the Mori clan, Aki Province controlled 4, the power of Nagayoshi was outstanding.

The path to decline

However, the Miyoshi's government, which passed a peak, began to decline in 1561. This year, the brave general of the Miyoshi's army Kazumasa SOGO, the younger brother and Nagayoshi who was called 'Oni Sogo,' died suddenly. In March 1562, Nagayoshi's another younger brother Yoshikata MIYOSHI died in a battle against the Hatakeyama clan. In August 1563, the heir of Nagayoshi, Yoshioki MIYOSHI died. Many member of the powerful clan died one after another.

Also, Nagayoshi himself became carried away with literature such as renga (linked verse) and tossed up government affairs. Then he made a terrible mistake of letting adopted son-in-law Hisahide MATSUNAGA to have the power to govern. Although the deaths of Kazumasa SOGO and Yoshioki MIYOSHI were rumored to have been the assassination by Hisahide, Nagayoshi, who was heart broken by the deaths of his family, was too weak to notice the true nature of Hisahide.
Therefore, Nagayoshi, who believed the false charge made by Hisahide and killed his younger brother Fuyuyasu ATAGI in May 1564, later realized that Fuyuyasu was innocent and fell sick, and died in July the same year (some speculate that Nagayoshi was assassinated by Hisahide)

Premeditated murder of the shogun

After Nagayoshi's death, the family estate of the Miyoshi clan was taken over by the adopted son of Nagayoshi, Yoshitsugu ASHIKAGA (son of Kazumasa SOGO). However, since Yoshitsugu was young, the Miyoshi's government was established by the coalition government by Nagayuki MIYOSHI, Masayasu MIYOSHI, Tomomichi IWANARI (Yoshitsugu's guardians and Miyoshi Sanninshu (Miyoshi Triumvirate)) and Hisahide MATSUNAGA.

Meanwhile, the shogun Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA, who was playing a puppet of Nagayoshi, took advantage of Nagayoshi's death, asked Kenshin UESUGI, Shingen TAKEDA, Yoshikage ASAKURA and other daimyo who had been close to Yoshiteru to go to Kyoto, and began to aggressively act for the restoration of the bakufu. Hisahide and Miyoshi Sanninshu who sensed the danger in Yoshiteru's action caused a coup on May 19, 1565 and killed Yoshiteru at the Nijo-jo Castle (Eiroku Incident).

They placed Yoshiteru's cousin Yoshihide ASHIKAGA as a new shogun. The coalition government of Matsunaga and Miyoshi continued to control the shogunate government even after the shogun was replaced.

Internal conflict and the collapse of the government

However, the Miyoshi Sanninshu, who felt Hisahide's power was threatening, invaded to the Yamato Province in cooperation with the local samurai of the Yamato Province, including Junkei TSUTSUI who was drifting after Hisahide took over the Tsutsui-jo Castle (at the Battle of Tsutsui-jo Castle), and tried to kill Hisahide. This caused the conflict between the Miyoshi Sanninshu and Hisahide MATSUNAGA become more serious.

At first Miyoshi Sanninshu who were backed up by the shogun Yoshihide ASHIKAGA and Yoshitsugu MIYOSHI, the family head of the Miyoshi family, called out the troops in Shikoku region and they were overwhelmingly dominating. However, Hisahide attacked the Miyoshi's army which was lined up at the Kofuku-ji Temple on October 10, 1567, and fought off them by setting a fire to the Daibutsu-den Hall (the Great Buddha hall) of Todai-ji Temple (warrior clashes at the Great Buddha Hall of Todai-ji temple); the battle was a seesaw war.

While the Miyoshi's government kept having the internal conflict, the younger brother of Yoshiteru, Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA, who was on the run with the support by vassals such as Yusai HOSOKAWA due to the Eiroku Incident, gained support by Nobunaga ODA, who governed the Owari Province and the Mino Province and was on a roll, and headed to Kyoto in September 1568. The Miyoshi's government which was busy with the internal conflict, tried to stop Nobunaga's invasion by giving a Kanryo shoku (a post of Chief Adviser) to Yoshikata ROKKAKU so that he would take the side with the Miyoshi's government. However, Rokkaku lost by the invasion of Nobunaga.

Thus, the Miyoshi Sanninshu and Hisahide MATSUNAGA ceased their fights and get together against Nobunaga. However, the Miyoshi's army had already became weak due to the internal conflict and they could not control their army, and lost without really fighting against the Oda army. By this, the Miyoshi's government, which controlled the central government over 20 years, collapsed in just 2 weeks.

Later, Yoshitsubu MIYOSHI and Hisahide MATSUNAGA surrendered to Nobunaga and became his vassals. However, Yoshitsugu was killed by Nobunaga in 1573 and Hisahide also in October 1577. The Miyoshi Sanninshu resisted against Nobunaga but were defeated by 1573. The Miyoshi clan lost their power in the Kinai region and only Nagaharu MIYOSHI, Yasunaga MIYOSHI, Masayasu SOGO and Nobuyasa ATAGI remained to have power in the Shikoku region. Miyoshi clan's power over the Shikoku region also declined due to internal conflict and surrender to Nobunaga, and they managed to survive under the protection of the Oda government.

Structure of the government

Miyoshi's government was a military government which succeeded the old government structure of the Muromachi bakufu. The facts that the Miyoshi's government made the most use of the bakufu functions such as by taking control of the shogunate government by placing shogun as a puppet and by controlling daimyo by giving important roles in the government as honory positions clearly show it. Therefore, the internal structure of the Miyoshi's government was very vulnerqable. The government was established only by the talent of Nagayoshi himself and the existence of the limited number of personnel, including Nagayoshi's younger brother Yoshikata MIYOSHI, Fuyuyasu ATAGI, Kazumasa SOGO and his heir Yoshioki MIYOSHI.

In terms of the economic power, they had surpassing power over other daimyo by taking Sakai under their control. However, the Miyoshi clan did not have goson (autonomous village) as their direct control territory and was just having the Imperial Court and shogun under their control. Because the Miyoshi government succeeded the previous shoen (manor) system and the system of the Muromachi bakufu, their economic structure was extremely vulnerable. Also, they took the Suigun (warriors battle in the sea) in the Shikoku region under their control by having Fuyuyasu being adopted by the Atagi clan and Kazumasa being adopted by the Sogo clan. This supported the military power of the Miyoshi clan. Since the Miyoshi clan was originally like a leader of the local ruling families of the Awa Province, the military power of Awa Province and Sanuki Province was essential for them to maintain their power in the Kinai region. However, the continued deaths of the Miyoshi clan such as Kazumasa and Yoshitaka accelerated their power over the Shikoku region losing substance, which eventually led to the decline of the military force of the Miyoshi's army.

Also, Nagayoshi tried to maintain their close relationships with the Imperial Court and temples and shrines by holding renga often. This was meant to take advantage of the religious network in the Kinai region because many of the Kugeshu (court nobles) in Kyoto and machi-shu (towns people) in Sakai were believers of the Hokke sect. However, this caused Nagayoshi to devote himself to literature, which led to the death of Nagayoshi, internal conflict within the Miyoshi clan, and eventually to the fall of the Miyoshi's government.