Akamatsu Sokuyu (赤松則祐)

Sokuyu (Norisuke) AKAMATSU (1314 - January 13, 1372) was a warlord during the Kamakura period and the period of the Northern and Southern Courts. He was the third son of Norimura AKAMATSU (Enshin). He had many sons, including Yoshifusa AKAMATSU, Yoshinori AKAMATSU, Mitsunori AKAMATSU, Yoshisuke ARIMA, and Mochinori AKAMATSU, and his daughter married Yorimoto HOSOKAWA. His siblings included Norisuke AKAMATSU, Sadanori AKAMATSU, Ujinori AKAMATSU, and Ujiyasu AKAMATSU.

During the Battle of anti-shogunate

In 1331, Emperor Godaigo endeavored to overthrow the Kamakura Bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) in the Genko Incident. Norisuke was living at Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple, where he met Imperial Prince Moriyoshi, the son of Emperor Godaigo, and was the Tendaizasu (chief priest of Tendai-shu), and accompanied the prince to the battles at Kumano and other places. In 1333, as a messenger for Imperial Prince Moriyoshi, he delivered an anti-shogunate ryoji (Royal command from the prince) to his father Enshin, and the Akamatsu clan formed a force in Harima Province. Thereafter, Norisuke followed his father to Kyoto and joined in the attack against Rokuhara Tandai (an administrative and judicial agency in Rokuhara, Kyoto).

There are many heroic tales about Norisuke, some of which are written in "Taiheiki" (The Record of the Great Peace). At Kumano and Totsu-kawa River, he fought to protect Imperial Prince Moriyoshi. Following his father Enshin, he executed a stern attack in the battle against Takada Hyogo no fu Yorishige, penetrating into Saijoyama-jo Castle to win victory. At the Battle of Katsura-gawa River in the capital, he was the first to cross the swollen Katsura-gawa River alone on horseback and charged the enemy encampment. In Kyoto, there is a story of him participating in a Kamakura-Muromachi Sumo competition presented to the imperial house ("Baishoron" (Historical tale compiled in 1349)).

The period of the Northern and Southern Courts

Under the Kenmu government, after the Nakasendai War was put down, Takauji ASHIKAGA led a revolt against Emperor Godaigo. Losing a battle against Akiie KITABATAKE and Masashige KUSUNOKI on the side of Emperor Godaigo, Takauji fled to Harima to seek help from Enshin. Enshin advised him to escape to Kyushu and receive an insen (imperial command) from Emperor Kogon. Takauji accepted the advice and escaped to Kyushu. The role of the Akamatsu clan was to stop Emperor Godaigo's force at Harima to win some time for Takauji, and Enshin was ordered to form a battle line in the wide area of Harima. Norisuke was appointed Taisho (Major Captain) of the second front at Shiroyama-jo Castle (Kanjosan-jo Castle). Emperor Godaigo's forces broke through the first front around Shosha-Sakamoto-jo Castle, and while branch castles along the second lines fell one by one, Norisuke guarded Shiroyama-jo Castle. While a fierce battle raged at Shirahata-jo Castle, he went to Takauji in Kyushu and persuaded him to go east.

In 1350, his father Enshin died and his eldest brother Norisuke became the head of the family; and when Norisuke died in 1351, Norisuke (Sokuyu) became the head of the family. In 1355, his clan was appointed Bizen Shugo (military government) in place of the Matsuda clan. In 1361, Kiyouji HOSOKAWA, who lost his position as steward of the bakufu, joined the Southern Court and captured Kyoto with Masanori KUSUNOKI. He then brought young Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA to Shirohata-jo Castle in Harima Province to seek refuge. During the early years of the Muromachi Bakufu, he supported the second Shogun Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA and Yoriyuki HOSOKAWA, the Kanrei (shogunal deputy).