Hosokawa Takakuni (細川高国)

Takakuni HOSOKAWA was a daimyo (Japanese territorial lord) and military commander during the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States). Takakuni was born into the Tenkyu family, an illegitimate line of the HOSOKAWA clan and holder of the Kanrei (shogunal deputy) post during the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

Brief Personal History

His biological father was Masaharu HOSOKAWA, the Shugo (military governor) of Bicchu Province. He was adopted by Kanrei, Masamoto HOSOKAWA, head of the legitimate line of the HOSOKAWA clan (Keicho family). His brother was Harukuni HOSOKAWA (It is said that Harukuni may have been Takakuni's biological son). Tanekuni HOSOKAWA was his biological son and Ujitsuna HOSOKAWA was his adopted son.

After the turmoil that followed his adoptive father's death had subsided, he became the head of the Keicho family, and he fought against Sumimoto HOSOKAWA, born into the family of the provincial constable of Awa, and the adopted son of Masamoto, in what is called the Battle of the Two HOSOKAWAS, fulfilling his role as Kanrei. In the end, he was defeated by Sumimoto's legitimate son, Harumoto HOSOKAWA, and was forced to commit suicide.

The Battle Against Sumiyuki and Sumimoto

Takaharu was born to Masaharu HOSOKAWA in 1484. It is not known when Takakuni was adopted by Masamoto, but it is certain that he was the third adopted son, after Sumiyuki and Sumimoto.

In June of 1507, after Masamoto was killed by Motonaga KOZAI and Nagatada YAKUSHIJI, the chief retainers of individuals who supported Sumiyuki, Sumimoto organized an army with the intention of attacking Sumiyuki in August of that year, which Takakuni joined, making a huge contribution to Sumimoto and supporting his bid to become the head of the HOSOKAWA family (Confusion of Eisho).

Seeing this series of upheavals as a great opportunity, Yoshioki OUCHI of Suo conspired with the former shogun, Yoshitane ASHIKAGA, who had become a samurai without a position, and thereby advanced into Kyoto. Takakuni was sent by Sumimoto to negotiate a peace with Yoshioki, but instead he double-crossed his lord by joining Yoshioki's forces and slipping away to Ise Province. In 1508, he advanced into Kyoto along with Takanaga NIKI, Motosuke ITAMI and Sadamasa NAITO, driving Sumimoto and Shogun Yoshizumi ASHIKAGA out of Omi. Then, together with Yoshioki OUCHI, he entered Kyoto and reinstated Yoshitane ASHIKAGA as the shogun, and on July 18 he was appointed as the ukyo dayu and kanrei.

In 1509, Sumimoto's chief retainer, Yukinaga MIYOSHI plotted to invade Kyoto; however, Takakuni teamed with Yoshioki OUCHI in the successful defeat of MIYOSHI's army (the Battle of Nyoigatake), riding to victory in a daring raid on Omi. However, when he raided Omi again in 1510, Sumimoto's supporters resisted so fiercely that he was forced to admit a defeat so devastating that he then considered entering the priesthood to atone for his failure.

In 1511, Sumimoto tried again to advance into Kyoto with Masayoshi HOSOKAWA and Yoshimura AKAMATSU. At one point, Takakuni found himself outnumbered and was forced to retreat to Tanba Province, but he was saved by the death of the former shogun, Yoshizumi ASHIKAGA, who had sided with Sumimoto's force, and on August 24 Takakuni claimed victory in the Battle of Funaokayama.

On August 2, 1518, when Yoshioki OUCHI returned to Suo, Takakuni single-handedly seized power. Recognizing this as an opportunity, Sumimoto HOSOKAWA and Yukinaga MIYOSHI, of Awa Province, advanced into Settsu Province in 1519. Following the defeat in battle in February 1520, Takakuni escaped to Omi-Sakamoto. Thereafter, Takakuni sought support from the Rokkaku, Asakura and Toki clans in order to assemble an army, whereupon he returned to Kyoto in May, driving Yukinaga MIYOSHI to suicide and forcing Sumimoto to flee to Settsu.

With the death of Sumimoto HOSOKAWA, Takakuni's long-time enemy, due to illness in Awa on June 2 of the same year, Takakuni had outlived his last enemy and thereby became the tenkabito, or the person holding the reins of government. Soon afterward, Takakuni accused Masayori KAWARABAYASHI, who had exhibited distinguished leadership in battle, of plotting a rebellion and sentenced him to death. He then waged war against Shogun Yoshitane ASHIKAGA, defeating and exiling him in March of 1521; and subsequently he established Yoshiharu ASHIKAGA as the twelfth shogun. Yoshitane thereafter made a series of attacks, but the fight ended in victory for Takakuni with Yoshitane's death in April 1523.

The Decline

For his support of Yoshiharu ASHIKAGA, Takakuni was appointed to the posts of kanrei and musashimori. On April 21, 1525, he retired and joined the priesthood, changing his name to Michinaga and passing the family estate and role of kanrei to his son, Tanekuni HOSOKAWA. However, in December the young Tanekuni died, forcing Takakuni to return as the head of the family and resume the role of kanrei.

In 1526, believing the slander that Tadataka HOSOKAWA had spread was true, Takakuni killed his chief retainer, Motomori KOZAI. Having learned of Motomori's death, his older brother, Tanemichi HATANO, and Kataharu YANAGIMOTO conspired with Harumoto HOSOKAWA (Sumimoto's son) and Motonaga MIYOSHI (the legitimate grandson of Yukinaga) and advanced toward Tanba Province. Takakuni sent Tadataka HOSOKAWA to Tanba, but he was defeated. In February of 1527, Kyoto was invaded by Takaharu YANAGIMOTO and Motonaga MIYOSHI, and Takakuni's force fought in the Battle of Katsuragawa; however, the Takakuni side was defeated and thus had no choice but to escape to Omi-Sakamoto supporting Yoshiharu ASHIKAGA. Thus ended Takakuni's rule.

His Last Years

Takakuni later sought help from Yoshihiro NIKI of Iga Province, Harumoto KITABATAKE of Ise Province, Takakage ASAKURA (the tenth head of the ASAKURA family) of Echizen Province and Tsunehisa AMAKO of Izumo Province. In 1530, following Kataharu YANAGIMOTO's assassination during the campaign for the control of Harima Province, Takakuni joined forces with Muramune URAGAMI and advanced into Kyoto.

On March 10, 1531, Harumoto's chief retainer, Motonaga MIYOSHI, turned against him and delivered a crushing defeat in the Battle of Settsu Nakajima. He faced defeat again at the hands of Motonaga in the Battle of Tennoji in June 4, 1531, but this time he escaped to Amagasaki (Daimotsu Kuzure). Motonaga pursued him, however, and found Takakuni hiding in a pot in a dyer's shop, from which he was dragged out and forced to kill himself at Kotoku-ji Temple at the hour of the tiger (about 4 a.m.) in June 8, 1531. Died at the age of 48.

His Death Poem

Takakuni sent his death poem to Harumoto KITABATAKE: Drawn pictures, blocks of stone, oceans and mountains, remain to be seen in the afterlife.

Persons to whom Takakuni awarded parts of his name:

Kunitora AKI
Kunichika CHOSOKABE