Sieges of Kannonji Castle (Ōnin-Bunmei)



Ōmi Province


Dates:  First Siege: 4/1 of Ōnin 2 (1468); Second Siege: 11/8 of Ōnin 2 (1468); Third Siege: Fifth month of Bunmei 1 (1469)

Location:  Kannonji Castle in Ōmi Province

Synopsis:  During the Ōnin-Bunmei War which engulfed the capital of Kyōto and its environs in fighting from 1467 to 1477, battles were waged between the Eastern and Western armies.  The Rokkaku clan of Ōmi Province divided into factions, with Rokkaku Takayori supporting the Western Army while Rokkau Masataka and Kyōgoku Mochikiyo joined the Eastern Army.  This led to a series of conflicts at Takayori’s base at Kannonji Castle.  After losing the first two engagements, his forces finally prevailed in the third contest.

[First Siege]

Lord:  Rokkaku Takayori

Commanders:  Iba Yukitaka

[Second Siege]

Lord:  Rokkaku Takayori

Commanders:  Yamauchi Masatsuna

[Third Siege]

Lord:  Rokkaku Takayori

Commanders:  Rokkaku Takayori, Yamauchi Masatsuna, Iba Sadataka, Iba Yukitaka

[First Siege]

Lord:  Kyōgoku Mochikiyo, Kyōgoku Katsuhide

Commanders:  Kyōgoku Katsuhide

[Second Siege]

Lord:  Kyōgoku Mochikiyo, Rokkaku Masataka

Commanders:  Kyōgoku Mochikiyo, Rokkaku Masataka

[Third Siege]

Lord:  Kyōgoku Mochikiyo, Rokkaku Masataka

Commanders:  Rokakku Masataka, Taga Takatada

The Sieges of Kannonji Castle during the Ōnin and Bunmei eras covers a series of three sieges occurring in 1468 and 1469 waged between members of the Kyōgoku and Rokkaku clans at Kannonji Castle in Ōmi Province.  These events predated by one century the Siege of Kannonji Castle by the Oda army during their march to the capital to install Ashikaga Yoshiaki as the fifteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu in 1568.

During the Ōnin-Bunmei War, Rokkaku Takayori joined the Western Army, triggering an attack by Kyōgoku Mochikiyo of the same family.  At this time, the Rokkaku clan was mired in an internecine conflict, divided between factions supporting the Eastern and Western armies respectively.  During the early period of the Ōnin-Bunmei War, this led to a series of three sieges of Kannonji Castle.

The First Siege of Kannonji Castle

Kyōgoku Katsuhide, the eldest son of Kyōgoku Mochikiyo associated with the Eastern Army led by Hosokawa Katsumoto attacked Kannonji Castle which served as the base of Rokkaku Takayori.  Takayori, along with Yamauchi Masatsuna (a senior retainer of Takayori serving as Takayori’s proxy on deployment) were in the capital of Kyōto fighting on behalf of the Western Army.  A retainer named Iba Yukitaka was in charge of defending of the castle during their absence.  Yukitaka went on the offensive, charging out to engage the attacking forces.  After several days of clashes, Yukitaka was defeated and, on 4/1 of Ōnin 2 (1468), vacated the castle, marking a victory for the Eastern Army.

The Second Siege of Kannonji Castle

At the beginning of the eleventh month of 1468, Yamauchi Masatsuna returned to Ōmi from Kyōto and reinforced the defenses at Kannonji Castle.  After suffering a loss to Takayori in a battle of archers, the combined forces of Rokkaku Masataka and Kyōgoku Mochikiyo prepared for another clash following the First Siege of Kannonji Castle.

On 11/8 of Ōnin 2 (1468), the allied forces of the Rokkaku and Kyōgoku initiated attacks against the defenders of the castle.  Yamauchi Masatsuna fought valiantly but could not hold on, so he set the castle on fire and fled.  Meanwhile, a total of twenty-three  bushō betrayed Takayori in favor of the attacking army.

The Third Siege of Kannonji Castle

Hosokawa Katsumoto of the Eastern Army supported Ashikaga Yoshimasa (the eighth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu), receiving sanction as the loyalist army defending the bakufu against the rebel Western Army.  In the fifth month of 1469, Katsumoto leveraged this authority, removing Rokkaku Takayori from his position as the military governor of Ōmi Province and replacing him with Kyōgoku Mochikiyo.  In addition to appointing Mochikiyo, Katsumoto also wielded the exclusive right to seize the fiefs of individuals who did not support Mochikiyo.

Enraged at these developments, Takayori and his retainers rebuilt Kannonji Castle after it had been burned down, and holed-up for a third time.  The Kyōgoku army responded by dispatching Taga Takatada and Rokkaku Masataka to subdue the rebels.  Takayori prepared by positioning Yamauchi Masatsuna, Iba Sadataka, and Iba Yukitaka at Kannonji Castle, and other forces at outlying castles and fortresses such as Wadayama and Mitsukuri castles.  During the ensuing battles, these forces succeeded in repelling the Kyōgoku army.

Thereafter, after Takayori invaded the lands under the direct control of the bakufu, he was the target of two expeditions: in the ninth month of 1489, led by Ashikaga Yoshihisa (the ninth shōgun); and, in the eighth month of 1491, led by Ashikaga Yoshitane (the tenth shōgun and younger cousin of Yoshihisa).  Takayori abandoned Kannonji Castle on two occasions, fleeing to the mountains of Kōka in Ōmi to engage in guerilla operations.  Despite temporarily vacating the castle, he recaptured it both times during the course of the Chōkyō-Entoku Expedition.