Ashikaga Yoshiaki

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Ashikaga Yoshiaki
足利 義昭
In office
Preceded byAshikaga Yoshihide
Succeeded byTokugawa Ieyasu
Personal details
Born5 December 1537
Ashikaga shogunate
Died19 October 1597(1597-10-19) (aged 59)
Azuchi–Momoyama period

Ashikaga Yoshiaki (足利 義昭, 5 December 1537 – 19 October 1597)[1] was the 15th and final shōgun of the Ashikaga shogunate in Japan who reigned from 1568 to 1573 when he staged a revolt and was overthrown.[2] His father, Ashikaga Yoshiharu, was the twelfth shōgun, and his brother, Ashikaga Yoshiteru, was the thirteenth shōgun.[3]


He was born to Ashikaga Yoshiharu on 5 December 1537.[1] He entered Kofuku-ji temple as monk, but when his older brother Yoshiteru was killed by the Miyoshi clan, he returned to secular life and took the name "Yoshiaki".[4] At the time, the Ashikaga shogunate had been severely weakened; its authority was largely ignored across Japan. Regardless, various factions still fought to control the central government, as it still held some prestige despite its dimished status. Ashikaga Yoshiteru attempted to overthrow the Miyoshi who effectively controlled him, but his conspiracies led the Miyoshi and Matsunaga Hisahide to organize a coup d'état as well as force Yoshiteru to commit suicide. They then opted to install Ashikaga Yoshihide as the fourteenth shogun in Kyoto, but were unable to control the capital.[5]

There was no effective central authority in Kyoto until Ashikaga Yoshiaki was able to enlist warlord Oda Nobunaga to support his cause. The Oda armies entered Kyoto in 1568, re-establishing the Muromachi shogunate under Ashikaga Yoshiaki as a puppet shōgun. This marked the beginning of the Azuchi–Momoyama period. Ashikaga Yoshihide, the fourteenth shōgun, was deposed without ever entering the capital.[6][7] Before long, Yoshiaki became dissatisfied with Oda Nobunaga's overlordship and tried to regain state power.[7]

In 1568, Oda Nobunaga facilitated the installation of Yoshiaki as shōgun.[2] The following year, Yoshiaki's Nijō residence was constructed, becoming a notable symbol of his authority.[8] The Ikkō monks in 1570 achieved victory over Oda Nobunaga even as the latter destroys Enryaku-ji and Nagashima,[2] ultimately bringing the surrender of the monks in August 1580.[9][10] Meanwhile in 1573, Takeda Shingen dies; Yoshiaki is deposed.[2] The aftermath of these events culminated in 1588 when Yoshiaki officially resigned from his post as shōgun.

Yoshiaki's revolt and escape[edit]

In 1573, Ashikaga Yoshiaki requested the aid of another warlord, Takeda Shingen, in overthrowing the Oda clan. Oda Nobunaga responded by deposing the shogun, forcing him to flee the capital.[11] Most historians consider this the Ashikaga shogunate's end. Yoshiaki became a Buddhist monk, shaving his head and taking the name Sho-san, which he later changed to Rei-o In.[12] However, Yoshiaki did not formally relinquish his title as shogun. Accordingly, the empty shell of the Ashikaga shogunate could be said to have continued for several more years. Despite a renewed central authority in Kyoto and Oda Nobunaga's attempt to unify the country, the struggle for power among warring states continued. Yoshiaki acted as a rallying point for anti-Oda forces. He even raised troops himself, and sent them to fight against Oda Nobunaga's army during the Ishiyama Hongan-ji War.[13] Even after Oda Nobunaga had died in 1582, the former shogun continued his efforts to regain power. According to historian Mary Elizabeth Berry, Yoshiaki still resisted Nobunaga's de facto successor Toyotomi Hideyoshi by 1590.[14]

He died in 1597.[11]


Ashikaga Yoshiaki's standard was a white Hata-jirushi with golden lettering and a red sun. His banner was white and had "Hachiman Dai Bosatsu" written on it in black.[11]


  • Father: Ashikaga Yoshiharu
  • Mother: Keijuin (1514–1565)
  • Concubines:
    • Osako no Kata
    • Kosaki no Tsubone
  • Children:
    • Ashikaga Yoshihiro (1572–1605)
    • Isshi Yoshitaka
    • Nagayama Yoshiari (1575–1635)
    • Yajima Hideyuki

Eras of Yoshiaki's bakufu[edit]

The span of years in which Yoshiaki was shōgun are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.[15]


  1. ^ a b "Ashikaga Yoshiaki" in The New Encyclopædia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 15th edn., 1992, Vol. 1, p. 625.
  2. ^ a b c d Ackroyd, Joyce. (1982) Lessons from History: The Tokushi Yoron, p. 332.
  3. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, pp. 385–389., p. 385, at Google Books
  4. ^ "日本大百科全書(ニッポニカ)「足利義昭」の解説". Kotobank. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  5. ^ Turnbull 2004, p. 31.
  6. ^ Sansom 1961, pp. 278–279.
  7. ^ a b Turnbull 2004, pp. 31–32.
  8. ^ "国立国会図書館デジタルコレクション". Retrieved February 6, 2024.
  9. ^ Turnbull 2004, p. 229.
  10. ^ Sansom 1961, p. 290.
  11. ^ a b c Turnbull 2004, p. 32.
  12. ^ Titsingh, p. 389., p. 389, at Google Books
  13. ^ Berry 1982, p. 63.
  14. ^ Berry 1982, p. 99.
  15. ^ Titsingh, pp. 382–405., p. 382, at Google Books


Preceded by Shōgun:
Ashikaga Yoshiaki

Azuchi–Momoyama period