Ashikaga Yoshiteru, The 13th Ashikaga Shogun was assassinated in June 450 years ago, June 17, 1565.
Ashikaga Yoshiteru reigned as the 13th Ashikaga Shogun from 1546 to 1565. Born March 31, 1536, he was the first son of the 12th shogun, Ashikaga Yoshiharu.
Yoshiteru was just 11 when his father was forced to retire due to political struggles, and like his father, he became a puppet shogun, surrounded by sycophants and daimyo warlords looking to use the young shogun for their own desires.
In 1546, Yoshiteru’s father faced problems with the daimyo Hosokawa Harumoto, who was also Deputy Shogun. Harumoto had Yoshiharu and his son expelled from Kyoto. After Yoshiteru was invested as shogun, his father made peace with Harumoto, allowing the Ashikaga back into the capital, but further infighting within the Hosokawa clan led to their ousting from the city once again six year later. The Hosokawa clan problems seem to have been manipulated by a senior retainer, Miyoshi Nagayoshi, who eventually controlled political power through Yoshiteru.
In 1564, Nagayoshi died of illness, and Yoshiteru took the opportunity to regain control, however Yoshiteru was killed by one of his councilors, Matsunaga Hisahide, who attacked and overran the shogun in his living quarters (where the Nijo Castle now stands) in an attempt to assume control as Nagayoshi had done. Yoshiteru died on July 17, 1565. His death poem reads:
The May rain falls. Is it my tears or the mist that surrounds me? Nightingale, carry my name up above the clouds!
Yoshiteru had attempted to negotiate peace between a number of warring daimyo and re-establish the respect and authority of the shogun. He became known as the Kengo Shogun (Great Sword Shogun) for his abilities with the sword, which he practiced diligently. Yoshiteru was said to have been closer to the ideal shogun since the first and founding Ashikaga shogun, Ashikaga Takauji. Yoshiteru was an able administrator with great aspirations.
Following Yoshiteru’s death, the land would be without a shogun for three years until his cousin, Ashikaga Yoshihide, was chosen as shogun, however Yoshihide would die October 28, 1568, of a contagious disease months after assuming the role. That same month, Oda Nobunaga would march on Kyoto and install Ashikaga Yoshiaki, Yoshiteru’s younger brother, as the 15th and final Ashikaga Shogun.
Credit – Samurai History & Culture Japan, aka Chris Glenn.