Ashikaga shogunate (足利幕府, Ashikaga bakufu, 1336–1573),
also known as the Muromachi shogunate (室町幕府, Muromachi
bakufu), was a dynasty originating from one of the plethora of
Japanese daimyōs which governed Japan from 1338 to 1573, the year in
Oda Nobunaga deposed Ashikaga Yoshiaki. The heads of government
were the shōguns. Each was a member of the Ashikaga clan.
This period is also known as the Muromachi period. It gets its name
from the Muromachi district of Kyoto. The third shōgun, Ashikaga
Yoshimitsu, established his residence on Muromachi Street. This
residence, constructed in 1379, is nicknamed "Flower Palace"
(花の御所, Hana no Gosho) because of the abundance of flowers in
2 North and South Court
3 Government structure
3.1 Foreign relations
4 Fall of the shogunate
5 Palace remains
6 List of Ashikaga shōguns
7 See also
9 External links
During the preceding
Kamakura period (1185–1333), the Hōjō clan
enjoyed absolute power in the governing of Japan. This monopoly of
power, as well as the lack of a reward of lands after the defeat of
the Mongol invasions, led to simmering resentment among Hōjō
vassals. Finally, in 1333, the
Emperor Go-Daigo ordered local
governing vassals to oppose Hōjō rule, in favor of Imperial
restoration, in the Kenmu Restoration.
To counter this revolt, the
Kamakura shogunate ordered Ashikaga
Takauji to quash the uprising. For reasons that are unclear, possibly
because Ashikaga was the de facto leader of the powerless Minamoto
clan, while the
Hōjō clan were from the
Taira clan the Minamoto had
previously defeated, Ashikaga turned against Kamakura, and fought on
behalf of the Imperial court.
After the successful overthrow of the Kamakura regime in 1336,
Ashikaga Takauji set up his own military government in Kyoto.
North and South Court
Ashikaga Takauji established himself as the shōgun, a dispute
Emperor Go-Daigo on the subject of how to govern the
country. That dispute led Takauji to cause Prince Yutahito, the second
son of Emperor Go-Fushimi, to be installed as Emperor Kōmyō.
Go-Daigō fled, and Japan was divided between a northern imperial
court (in favor of Kōmyō), and a southern imperial court (in favor
of Go-Daigō). This period of "Northern and Southern Courts" continued
for 56 years, until 1392, when the South Court gave up during the
reign of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu.
Structure of the bakufu
Ashikaga shogunate was the weakest of the three Japanese military
governments. Unlike its predecessor, the Kamakura shogunate, or its
successor, the Tokugawa shogunate, when
Ashikaga Takauji established
his government he had little personal territory with which to support
his rule. The
Ashikaga shogunate was thus heavily reliant on the
prestige and personal authority of its shōguns. The centralized
master-vassal system used in the Kamakura system was replaced with the
highly de-centralized daimyōs (local lord) system, and because of the
lack of direct territories, the military power of the shōguns
depended heavily on the loyalty of the daimyōs.
On the other hand, the Imperial court was no longer a credible threat
to military rule. The failure of the
Kenmu Restoration had rendered
the court weak and subservient, a situation the Ashikaga Takauji
reinforced by establishing within close proximity of the Emperor at
Kyoto. The authority of the local daimyōs greatly expanded from its
Kamakura times. In addition to military and policing responsibilities,
the shogunate appointed shugos now absorbed the justice, economical
and taxation powers of the local Imperial governors, while the
government holdings in each province were rapidly absorbed into the
personal holdings of the daimyōs or their vassals. The loss of both
political clout and economic base deprived the Imperial court of much
of its power, which were then assumed by the Ashikaga shōguns. This
situation reached its peak under the rule of the third shōgun,
After Yoshimitsu however, the structural weakness of the Ashikaga
shogunate were exposed by numerous succession troubles and early
deaths. This became dramatically more acute after the Ōnin War, after
which the shogunate itself became reduced to little more than a local
political force in Kyoto.
The Ashikaga shogunate's foreign relations policy choices were played
out in evolving contacts with
Joseon on the Korean Peninsula and
with imperial China.
Fall of the shogunate
As the daimyōs increasingly feuded among themselves in the pursuit of
power in the Ōnin War, that loyalty grew increasingly strained, until
it erupted into open warfare in the late Muromachi period, also known
as the Sengoku period.
When the shōgun
Ashikaga Yoshiteru was assassinated in 1565, an
ambitious daimyō, Oda Nobunaga, seized the opportunity and installed
Yoshiteru's brother Yoshiaki as the 15th Ashikaga shōgun. However,
Yoshiaki was only a puppet of Nobunaga.
Ashikaga shogunate was finally destroyed in 1573 when Nobunaga
Ashikaga Yoshiaki out of Kyoto. Initially, Yoshiaki fled to
Shikoku. Afterwards, he sought and received protection from the Mōri
clan in western Japan. Later,
Toyotomi Hideyoshi requested that
Yoshiaki accept him as an adopted son and the 16th Ashikaga shōgun,
but Yoshiaki refused.
The Ashikaga family survived the 16th century, and a branch of it
became the daimyō family of the Kitsuregawa domain.
Marker for the site of the Flower Palace, Kyoto
The shogunal residence, also known as the "Flower Palace", was in
Kyoto on the block now bounded by
Karasuma Street (to the east),
Imadegawa Street (to the south),
Muromachi Street (to the west, giving
the name), and Kamidachiuri Street (to the north). The location is
commemorated by a stone marker at the southwest corner, and the
Kanbai-kan (寒梅館, Winter Plum Hall) of Dōshisha University
contains relics and excavations of the area.
List of Ashikaga shōguns
Ashikaga Takauji, ruled 1338–1357
Ashikaga Yoshiakira, r. 1359–1368
Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, r. 1368–1394
Ashikaga Yoshimochi, r. 1395–1423
Ashikaga Yoshikazu, r. 1423–1425
Ashikaga Yoshinori, r. 1429–1441
Ashikaga Yoshikatsu, r. 1442–1443
Ashikaga Yoshimasa, r. 1449–1473
Ashikaga Yoshihisa, r. 1474–1489
Ashikaga Yoshitane, r. 1490–1493, 1508–1521
Ashikaga Yoshizumi, r. 1494–1508
Ashikaga Yoshiharu, r. 1521–1546
Ashikaga Yoshiteru, r. 1546–1565
Ashikaga Yoshihide, r. 1568
Ashikaga Yoshiaki, r. 1568–1573
History of Japan
Japanese missions to Imperial China
Ōban (Great Watch)
^ a b Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Muromachi-jidai" in Japan
Encyclopedia, p. 669.
^ Roth 2002, p. 878.
^ Roth 2002, p. 53.
^ von Klaproth 1834, p. 320.
^ Kang 1997, p. 275.
^ Ackroyd 1982, p. 329.
^ von Klaproth 1834, pp. 322–324.
^ With the end of the Kitsuregawa line following the death of Ashikaga
Atsuuji in 1983, the current de facto head of the family is Ashikaga
Yoshihiro, of the Hirashima Kubō line.
^ a b c d Roth 2002, p. 55.
^ a b c d e f g h Roth 2002, p. 56.
^ Ackroyd, p. 298; n.b., shōgun Yoshimasa was succeeded by shōgun
Yoshihisa (Yoshimasa's natural son), then by Shogun Yoshitane
(Yoshimasa's first adopted son), and then by Shogun Yoshizumi
(Yoshimasa's second adopted son)
^ a b c Roth 2002, p. 57.
^ Ackroyd, p. 385 n104; excerpt, "Some apparent contradictions exist
in various versions of the pedigree owing to adoptions and
name-changes. Yoshitsuna (sometimes also read Yoshikore) changed his
name and was adopted by Yoshitane. Some pedigrees show Yoshitsuna as
Yoshizumi's son, and Yoshifuyu as Yoshizumi's son."
新井 Arai, 白石 Hakuseki; Ackroyd, Joyce Irene (1982). Lessons
from history: the Tokushi yoron. University of Queensland Press.
Kang, Etsuko Hae-Jin (1997). Diplomacy and Ideology in Japanese-Korean
Relations: From the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century. Palgrave
Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-17370-8.
Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric; Roth, Käthe (2002). Japan Encyclopedia.
Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-01753-5.
von Klaproth, Julius (1834). Nipon o daï itsi ran: ou Annales des
empereurs du Japon. Oriental Translation Fund.
Ashikaga Bakufu from Washington State University website
Kyoto City Web
Ashikaga family tree
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^ a b c d Yoshimasa's successors were Yoshihisa (son), Yoshitane
(first adopted son) and Yoshizumi (second adopted son)
^ The broken lines indicate adoptions within the shogunal clan
Chronology, dates and paternity of the Ashikaga shōguns
Related topics: Muromachi period