Nitta Yoshiaki (新田義顕)

Yoshiaki NITTA was a busho (Japanese military commander) in the period of the Northern and Southern Courts.

He was the eldest son of Yoshisada NITTA. There are various theories about his birth mother (which varies from a daughter of Seishu ANDO to a daughter of Shigeyasu ANDO, who was from the same clan and was the saemonshoi (junior lieutenant of the left division of outer palace guards) of 甘羅令 of Kozuke Province). His childhood name was Kotaro (there was a theory of his name being Tatsuchiyo).

Career

Since Yoshiaki received the childhood name of his father, Kotaro, there was a theory that his mother was the seishitsu (legal wife) of Yoshisada.

On the other hand, as Yoshiaki, who was the eldest son of Yoshitada, died earlier than his father, and the family estate of Nitta clan was passed down to his younger paternal brother Yoshimune NITTA, another theory states that the mother of Yoshimune was the legal wife of Yoshitada and the mother of Yoshiaki was a concubine.

Seishu ANDO was a powerful man of Miuchibito (private vassal of the tokuso) as a Tokuso's vassal, and "Taiheiki" (The Record of the Great Peace) referred to the mother of Toshiaki as a daughter of Seishu, but "Nitta Ashikaga Ryoshi Keizu" (The genealogies of the Nitta clan and the Ashikaga clan) stated her as a daughter of Shigeyasu, who is thought to have been from the clan of Seishu ANDO and was the Saemon-shoi (junior lieutenant of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards) of Kanra gun jito (manager and lord of manor in Kanra District).

He participated in the mobilization of army for the defeat of Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) schemed by his father in 1333. In 1334, he was given Jugoinoge rank (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) Echigo no kami (Provincial Governor of Echigo) from the feat of overthrowing the shogunate. He was also appointed as the Togu no suke (Assistant Master in the Crown Prince's Quarters). He served as the tonin (the director) of Mushadokoro (place where samurai of guard of the imperial palace was staffed), First Division in the Kenmu Restoration.

He accompanied his father Yoshisada even after Takauji ASHIKAGA revolted against the government of Kenmu era, and entered Kanagasaki Castle in Echizen Province in November 1336 with Yoshisada as a base to fight against the Ashikaga side in northern Japan under orders of Imperial Princes Tsuneyoshi and Takayoshi.

Yoshiaki and his uncle Yoshisuke WAKIYA were planning to enter Somayama Castle as a rear guard but were hindered by the enemy so that Yoshiaki returned to Kanagasaki Castle. They were eventually surrounded by armies of Takatsune SHIBA of provincial constable of Echizen Province and KO no Moroyasu, but held the castle for half a year. His father Yoshisada made Yoshiaki manage the fight and escaped from Kanagasaki Castle to bring the troops from Soyama Castle to rescue Yoshiaki and others but failed.

Food supply became depleted and Nitta Army that had suffered from violent attacks by Ashikaga army and starvation for a long time hopelessly fought and was taken down one after another. Yoshiaki put a fire on the castle and committed suicide along with Imperial Prince Takayoshi and approximately 300 soldiers. His dying age was 20.

Imperial Prince Tsuneyoshi was captured and confined by Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA and died in the following year (there is a theory of him having been assassinated by poison).