Shiba Takatsune (斯波高経)

Takatsune SHIBA (1305 - August 17, 1367) was a busho (Japanese military commander) and provincial military governor in the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan). His real family name was Genji. His family lineage was the Shiba clan, which was a family of the Ashikaga clan that originated from MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni, a son of MINAMOTO no Yoshiie who was the head of the Kawachi-Genji-- one of the families of Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan originated from Emperor Seiwa)--and Chinju-fu shogun (Commander-in-Chief of the Defense of the North). His childhood name was Sentsurumaru and he was commonly called Saburo. His father was Muneuji (Iesada) SHIBA and mother was a daughter of Tokihide OE.

Family line
His family was part of the Ashikaga clan, one of the main families of the Kawachi-Genji, the Minamoto clan. His family was the main branch of the Owari-Ashikaga family. His family were allowed to identify themselves as Ashikaga in public because they were a family of good pedigree, and it was apparently his great-great-grandfather Ieuji or Takatsune himself that described themselves as the Shiba family. When the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) came into power, Yoshimasa SHIBA became kanrei (shogunal deputy) and his father Takatsune acted as the guardian. After that, the Shiba clan became the head of sankanrei (three families in the post of kanrei, or shogunal deputy) throughout the Muromachi period.
For details see 'Shiba clan.'

His children included Ienaga SHIBA, Ujitsune SHIBA, Ujiyori SHIBA and Yoshitane SHIBA in addition to Yoshimasa SHIBA, and his brothers included Iekane SHIBA who became the originator of the Oshu-Shiba clan.

The family tree
MINAMOTO no Yoshiie - MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni - Yoshiyasu ASHIKAGA - Yoshikane ASHIKAGA - Yoshiuji ASHIKAGA (the third head of ASHIKAGA family) -Yasuuji ASHIKAGA - Ieuji SHIBA - Muneie SHIBA - Iesada SHIBA - Takatsune SHIBA - Yoshimasa SHIBA.


The battle against the Nitta family

In 1333, he joined in an attack on Kamakura (Kamakura-zeme) following Takauji ASHIKAGA who was acting in response to a statement by the Emperor Godaigo. Kenmu no Shinsei (the new government of Emperor Godaigo and the new policies) was started by Emperor Godaigo after the fall of the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), but later, Takatsune followed Takauji when Takauji seceded from the Kenmu government, and Takatsune took part in various battles in various places as a powerful military commander of samurai warriors since then. Takatsune joined the Battle of Minato-gawa River between Yoshisada NITTA and Masashige KUSUNOKI in 1336 too. When it came to the period of the Northern and Southern Courts, during which Takauji ASHIKAGA formed a samurai government in Kyoto (the Northern Court) and Emperor Godaigo set up the Southern Court in Yoshino, Takatsune became engaged in a tug-of-war against the Southern Court, mainly in Hokuriku region as a military governor of Echizen Province.

Because Yoshisada NITTA's army entered Echizen Province with Imperial Prince Takayoshi and Imperial Prince Tsuneyoshi at its head, after the Battle of Minato-gawa River, the war situation in Echizen grew intense. In 1337, Takatsune attacked Kanagasaki-jo Castle (Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture) of the Southern Court in Echizen with KO no Moroyasu and defeated Yoshisada and his son Yoshiaki NITTA who had both Imperial Princes on their side. Although letting Yoshisada, who was a de facto commander, get away, Takatsune's other military exploits included making Imperial Prince Takayoshi and Yoshiaki commit suicide and capturing Imperial Prince Tsuneyoshi. After that, Takatsune was deprived of his Fuchu (cities which have local governments at their core) and Kanagasaki-jo Castle as a result of a resumed offensive from Yoshisada NITTA, but he held off Yoshisada's offence by bringing temple-goers of Heisen-ji Temple over to his side. In August 1338, Takatsune finally scored a big success, killing Yoshisada at Tomyoji Nawate (a footpath between rice fields of Tomyo-ji Temple) in Fujishima, Echizen Province. Takatsune had Yoshisada's younger brother Yoshisuke WAKIYA as the court's side commander before him from 1339 and faced an uphill battle, meaning he had to run away from Echizen to Kaga Province for a time. However, Takatsune made a countercharge to expel Yoshisuke to Mino Province in 1340 and breaking through the rest of the court's forces to subjugate Echizen in 1341.

Estrangement and return

Before long, when the Kanno Disturbance, which had grown from the internal conflict in the Ashikaga family, happened, Takatsune took sides with Naoyoshi ASHIKAGA at first and became a powerful military commander, but later he took the side of Takauji ASHIKAGA. When the South Court tried to take control of Kyoto - Shohei itto (temporal unification of the Northern and Southern Courts) - Takatsune assisted Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA in recapturing Kyoto. In 1355, however, Takatsune led a rebellion against the bakufu again in response to Tadafuyu ASHIKAGA and came to control Kyoto by himself this time. In 1356, he left Tadafuyu's side and returned to the bakufu again.

When Takauji died in 1358, he took the tonsure, renamed himself Docho and assisted Yoshiakira who became the second Shogun. The fact that Kiyouji HOSOKAWA fell from the position of shitsuji (the later kanrei [shognal deputy]) and ran away to the Southern Court let the Shiba family get more power, and Takatsune placed his son Yoshimasa SHIBA in the post of shitsuji in 1362 and he himself got the real power to take the initiative in bakufu. Also he placed his fifth son Yoshitane SHIBA as the head of kozamurai dokoro (a group of officers to guard the Shogun), and the Shiba family took a hold on the nucleus of the Bakufu.

Downfall and final period

Takatsune got the real power of the bakufu, but his uncompromising political style triggered protests by territorial lords and temple and shrine groups. Especially, Doyo SASAKI (Takauji KYOGOKU), who was the father-in-law of Ujiyori SHIBA who was the third son of Takatsune, hated Takatsune because Takatsune had made Yoshimasa kanrei rejecting Ujiyori whom Doyo had pushed, and both were in fierce conflict. In August 1366, suddenly he was ordered to go back to his territory by Shogun Yoshiakira and was toppled (the Joji incident). Because Yoriyuki HOSOKAWA, for whom Doyo pushed, assumed the post of substitute kanrei, the conflict between the Shiba family and the Hosokawa family remained after Yoshimasa had come back to the shogunate government; this conflict led to the Koryaku Coup in the time of the third Shogun Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA. Although Takatsune, who had fled the capital, continued to fight against a punitive force from the government, he died at Somayama-jo Castle (Minamiechizen-cho, Fukui Prefecture) in 1367. He was sixty-three years old. His posthumous Buddhist name was Tokoji (Reigenin later) den Docho-nippo.

In addition, after Takatsune's death, Yoshimasa was pardoned after a short time and came back to bakufu.

Personal Profile and anecdotes

It is said in "Taiheiki" (The Record of the Great Peace) that Takatsune obtained notable swords called Onikiri and Onimaru when he killed Yoshisada NITTA in Fujishima. The next day, Takauji ASHIKAGA demanded the handover of the two swords, saying 'they are hereditary family heirlooms of the Minamoto clan,' but Takatsune said 'they burned' and handed Takauji two burned-out swords. Takauji was offended badly when he found out the truth. In later years, after the downfall of Takatsune, Onimaru was obtained once more by the Muromachi shogunate family and Onikiri was given to and handed down in the Mogami family of the Shiba family.

While Takatsune was taking the reins of government, he couldn't bear to watch the slow moving construction of Gojo-bashi Bridge, which was entrusted to Doyo SASAKI, and Takatsune did it himself. When the cherry blossom viewing party, which Takatsune organized, was held at a residence of the shogun, Doyo, who thought he had lost face, had first said he would attend, but he changed on the day and held a big cherry blossom viewing party at his own house. The party was so tremendous that the party at the shogun's residence was over-shadowed, and Takatsune lost face this time.

Whether or not it is true, these are anecdotes to illustrate that Takatsune was on bad terms with Takauji and Doyo.

History of his government posts and court ranks
* Date according to old lunar calendar
On January 29, 1337, Takatsune was made Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) and appointed Uma no kami (Captain of the Right Division of Bureau of Horses).

On January 15, 1342, he was promoted to Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and transferred to Shuri no daibu (Master of the Office of Palace Repairs).

In 1362, Takatsune became a priest and identified himself as Docho.

[Original Japanese]