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Chapter Six Conflict with the Mōri over Buzen and Chikuzen



Chapter Six Conflict with the Mōri over Buzen and Chikuzen

Sue Takafusa, who greeted Yoshishige`s younger brother, Haruhide (Yoshinaga) to Yamaguchi as the appointed head of the Ōuchi family, was killed while fighting against Mōri Motonari in the first year of Kōji (1555). In the 3rd year of Kōji (1557), Yoshinaga himself died at the hands of Motonari, at the temple of Chōfukuji in Chōfu (長府). It is said that at the time Yoshishige did not send aid to Yoshinaga when it was requested. One should remember, though, that Yoshishige himself was engaged in trying to cement his rule over his various territories. In the 7th month of Kōji 3, a number of regional lords in Chikuzen and Buzen betrayed Yoshishige and switched allegiance to the Mōri. In revenge for this betrayal, Yoshishige dispatched Betsugi Akitsura, Yoshihiro Akimasa (吉弘鑑理), Yoshioka Nagamasu (吉岡長増), and Takita Akinari (田北鑑生) to Chikuzen, where they forced Akizuki Masatane (秋月政種, one of the local landlords) to hole up inside Koshosan (古処山城) castle. Masatane was later killed, forcing his son, Akizuki Tanezane (種実) to flee to the Chūgoku region and the safety of the Mōri. (46)

Taking advantage of the situation, Yoshishige`s forces advanced further into Chikuzen, overcoming Tsukushi Hirokado (筑紫広門). They then attacked Harada Takatane (原田隆種) in Itoshima gun (怡土志摩郡). Takatane`s sons Tanehide (種栄) and Tanekado (種門) would both be defeated and die within the castle of Takasu (高祖城). In the meantime, Yoshishige himself led an army consisting of 12,000 troops into Chikuzen, where he captured Ryūō castle (龍王城) and made it his camp. He then set about pacifying the `36 member group (or shū)` (三十六人衆) of Usa gun. He followed this up by sending an army into eastern Buzen, which moved from Shimoge (下毛) gun through to Kamige (上毛) and Tsuyuki (筑城) gun in western Buzen. The castle of Moji (門司) in Kikunokōri gun (企救郡) formed a natural barrier between Buzen and Chikuzen. For anyone wanting to rule over both provinces, possession of this castle was of vital importance, hence it became the focal point of conflict between the Ōtomo and the Mōri.(46)

All of this activity gave Yoshishige the upper hand in establishing his rule over northern Kyushu. He had already been named as the shugo of Buzen as well as Chikuzen and Chikugo, Bungo, Higo, and Hizen. This was followed by his appointment to the position of Kyushu Tandai. What all this meant was that he was, in name and in reality, overall ruler of Kyushu. The Shimazu of Satsuma were not in a position to challenge Yoshishige`s authority at this time as they were still concerned with uniting Satsuma under their rule and were not able to begin expanding into other territories. However, it was just at this time that the grandson of Ryūzōji Iekane, Ryūzōji Takanobu (隆信), began his own quest for power. In the 2nd year of Eiroku (1559), Takanobu attacked and killed Shōni Fuyuhisa. In retaliation, Ōtomo Yoshishige tried attacking Takanobu (who by now was allied to the Mōri), yet this ultimately proved unsuccessful. Meanwhile, Akitsuki Tanezane, who had fled to the Mōri after the defeat of his father, returned to Chikuzen with the assistance of the Mōri, linking up with an army under Kobayakawa Takakage (小早川隆景), and took over the province.(46-47)

Yoshishige was not to be outdone, and so he made an alliance with Amago Yoshihisa (尼子義久) of Izumo province using the strategy of Enkō Kinkō (遠交近攻, or negotiating with those afar while attacking those closer to you), thereby hoping to trap the Mōri in a pincer movement. However the battle against the Mōri forces in Buzen and Chikuzen did not go according to plan, for the Ōtomo lost both Moji castle and, in Eiroku 4 (1561), Matsuyama castle (松山城) in Kyoto gun (京都郡) (as recorded in the Intoku Taiheiki and the Hokuhi Senshi (北肥戦誌). The consequences of these defeats convinced Yoshishige to move his capital from Funai to Usuki, possibly out of fear of the landlords in Chikuzen allied to the Mōri. (47)

In the Eiroku 6 (1563), Yoshishige was ordered to serve as part of the retinue (or Sohan shū 相伴衆) to the shogun Yoshiteru (although Yoshishige would remain in Bungo). In the 7th month of the following year, Eiroku 7 (1564), the Ōtomo and Mōri concluded a truce brokered by Yoshiteru, whereupon those territories of Chikuzen and Buzen were returned to the former shugo (i.e Yoshishige). Needless to say, this turn of events was probably the result of diplomacy orchestrated by Yoshishige.(47)

The temporary respite brought about by the truce allowed Yoshishige time to orchestrate a plan to have the second son of Shōni Sukemoto, Masaoki (政興) re-establish the house of Shōni (until this time Masaoki had been wandering northern Kyushu seeking supporters). He was joined in this scheme by Hata Shigeshi (波多鎮, also known as Chikashi, or 親) of the Kami Matsuura (上松浦) family and Arima Harunobu (有馬晴信) of Hizen. However they were opposed by Ryūzōji Takanobu, who would not countenance the re-appearance of the Shōni. This then reignited the animosity that existed between the Ryūzōji, Mōri, and the Ōtomo.(48)

In the 8th year of Eiroku (1565), the lord of Tachibana castle in Chikuzen (and retainer of the Ōtomo household), Tachibana Akitoshi (立花鑑載) answered a secret message sent from the Mōri and revolted against Yoshishige. In the 11th month of the 9th year of Eiroku (1566), Takahashi Akitane, lord of both Chikuzen Hōman and Iwaya castles, also betrayed Yoshishige. This inspired a revolt against the Ōtomo by Akizuki Tanemitsu and Tsukushi Hirokado. To quell the sudden upsurge in dissent, Betsugi Akitsura (later known as Tachibana Dōsetsu 立花道雪), Usuki Akisumi (鑑速), and Yoshihiro Akinao (鑑理) were sent to Chikuzen, where they crushed Akitoshi and became involved in fighting with Akitane and other lords backed by the Mōri.(48)

Takahashi Akitane had previously been a close supporter of Yoshishige. He had been adopted into the Takahashi family of Chikuzen from the Ichimada (一万田), and had been granted lordship over Hōman and Iyawa castles. The fact that he had been in secret correspondence with the Mōri came as a complete shock to Yoshishige. The circumstances surrounding why he had been in contact are unclear, although both the Tachibana Ke no Ki (立花家之記) and the Kyushu Chiranki (九州治乱記) state that the betrayal came about because of the death of Akitoshi`s elder brother, Ichimada Danshōchū (弾正忠) Chikamitsu (親実) at the hands of Yoshishige, who then forcibly took Chikamitsu`s wife for himself.(48)

In the 10th month of the 12th year of Eiroku (1569), Amago Haruhisa sent an army consisting of troops from Izumo and Hōki (伯耆) under the command of Yamanaka Shikanosuke against the Mōri, launching an attack against the Mōri rear. This development caught Mōri Motonari by surprise, forcing him to order Kobayakawa Takakage to halt his invasion of Chikuzen and withdraw to Kokura. The Ōtomo took advantage of the situation, and pursued Kobayakawa`s army all the way back to Kokura. They were said to have taken some 3,500 heads as prizes during the pursuit.(49)

Meanwhile Ryūzōji Takanobu decided to make peace with the Ōtomo army that was currently attacking his home territory of Saga, and withdrew to Nagato. Those local kokujin and landlords that had supported the Mōri in Chikuzen either escaped to Aki province, or else surrendered to the Ōtomo. Yoshishige, after eliminating Tachibana Akitoshi, granted the surname of this family to Betsugi Akitsura. Takahashi Akitane, who had been a central figure in the revolt, was spared by Yoshishige, yet he was removed as lord of Hōman and Iwaya castles and was given the much smaller territory of Kiku (規矩郡) near Kokura (according to the Hōzen Kakusho 豊前覚書 and the Takahashi Ki (高橋記). With the Ryūzōji and Takahashi families quelled in the west, and the Mōri forced to withdraw their troops to the Chūgoku region, in the 12th month of the 12th year of Eiroku (1569), Yoshishige finally returned to Bungo. In the following year, the 1st year of Kigen (1570), the Ōtomo made camp at Chikugo Kōrasan (高良山), a fortress housing Usuki Akisumi and other generals. This position was attacked by Ryūzōji Takanobu, however the attack was carried out at night, and ended in the retreat of the Ryūzōji army (according to the Chinzei Yōryaku). Hence from Kigen 1 (1570) until Tenshō 6 (1578) and the battle of Mimigawa, the Ōtomo were to enjoy a period of respite that marked the highpoint of the reign of Yoshishige.(49-50)

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© Greg Pampling. This page was modified in February 2012