Rokkaku Yoshitaka (六角義賢)
Yoshitaka ROKKAKU/ Shotei ROKKAKU was a military commander from the Sengoku period (period of warring state) through to the Azuchi-Momoyama era. He was a Shugo-daimyo (Provincial military lord) and Sengoku-daimyo (Warlord) in Minami-Omi no kuni (South Omi Province). He was lord of Kannonji Castle.
In 1521 he was born to Sadayori ROKKAKU. He did rule in association with his father, Sayori, during in his father's later years; he assisted his father and the husband of his elder sister (Harumoto HOSOKAWA) in battles with Nagayoshi MIYOSHI (Battle of Eguchi).
In 1552 upon the death of his father he became head of the Rokkaku family,
Following his father's death, Yoshitaka assisted the 13th Shogun Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA and Harumoto HOSOKAWA in battles with Nagayoshi MIYOSHI, but the military superiority of this group over the Miyoshi family was reversed and a string of battles were lost. However, Yoshitaka acted as an intermediary in the reconciliation between Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA and Nagayoshi MIYOSHI in 1558, allowing Yoshiteru to return to Kyoto and preserve his honor.
Hisamasa AZAI of North Omi Province who had been subjugated Yoshitaka's father used this as an opportunity to launch an invasion of the Rokkaku fiefdom. However, Yoshitaka repelled the attack and even managed to subjugate AZAI further.
In 1559 Yoshitaka retired and became a monk, going by the name Joutei. His eldest son Yoshiji inherited the role of family head.
In 1560 Hisamasa AZAI's heir Nagamasa AZAI launched a rebellion against the Rokkaku family. To suppress the rebellion, Yoshitaka personally led a large army himself but suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the AZAI forces led by Nagamasa (Battle of Norada). Through this battle Yoshitaka formed an alliance Yoshitatsu SAITO, whom up to that point he had seen as an enemy, and thus broadened opposition to the Azai clan, but the tide of war had turned against them.
Decline and Downfall
In 1563, in what is known as "Kannonji family feud," Yoshiji, now the head of the family, brutally murdered the popular and powerful vassal Katatoyo GOTO in Kannonji Castle. This rapidly spread distrust amongst the many vassals of the Rokkoku family and led to Yoshitaka and Yoshiji being chased from the Kannonji Castle. Through the intermediation of the key vassals Sadahide GAMO and Katahide GAMO, Yoshitaka and Yoshiji were permitted to return to Kannonji Castle.
In 1566 Nagamasa AZAI launched an invasion of the Rokkaku fiefdom and it took an enormous effort on the part of the Rokkaku family to hold them back. In 1568, under orders from Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA, Nobunaga ODA began to advance on the capital, but when Nobunaga asked the Rokkaku family to provide a contingent of troops, they refused and fought a battle against Oda's troops. However, the Rokkaku suffered a crushing defeat and fled the Kannonji Castle for Koga. This brought about the end of the Rokkaku family as Daimyo in the Sengoku period.
A short time later Nobunaga arrived in Kyoto to face Yoshiaki but was surrounded by Yoshiaki, whereupon Yoshitaka formed an alliance with his former enemies Nagamasa AZAI and the Miyoshi clan, gathered together his former vassals and waged a guerilla-style battle on Nobunaga's forces in South Omi. In 1570, Yoshitaka attacked Nobunaga's senior vassal Katsuie SHIBATA who was entrenched at Chokoji Castle in South Omi, but was defeated. Yoshitaka then holed up at Bodaiji Castle but was defeated and surrendered to Nobunaga.
At the command of Nobunaga, he was put in the custody of Nobumori SAKUMA and confined to Ishibe Castle.
However, in 1574, Yoshitaka escaped to Shiragaki
Thereafter, it has been said that he rallied the people of Koga and Iga provinces and continued to resist Nobunaga, that he lived in seclusion, that he was receiving help from Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple, and even that he was baptized as a Christian in 1581, but there is no clear information on this point. Yoshitaka died in 1598, the same year as Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI who seized power across the breadth of Japan.
He was 78
Yoshitaka was a master of archery on horseback and learnt Heki School style (Yoshida School) archery from a vassal named Shigemasa YOSHIDA, and he gained proficiency and became skilful solely through instruction by this one individual (refer to Heki School for full details). He learnt horsemanship in the Otsubo School style, and revived the Sasaki School, which survives to this day.