Ashikaga Fujiuji

足利藤氏

Ashikaga Clan

Bushō

Shimōsa Province

Lifespan: 15xx to 15xx (last whereabouts in Eiroku 9 (1566))

Rank:  bushō

Clan: Ashikaga – branch in the Kantō Region

Bakufu: Muromachi bakufu

Father:  Ashikaga Haruuji

Mother:  Daughter of Yanada Takasuke

Siblings: Fujiuji, Yoshiuji, Fujimasa, Teruuji, Iekuni

Ashikaga Fujiuji served as a bushō during the Sengoku period.  Fujiuji was the eldest son of Ashikaga Haruuji, the fourth Koga kubō.  His mother was the daughter of Yanada Takasuke.  Fujiuji received one of the characters in his name from Ashikaga Yoshifuji, the thirteenth shōgun (later known as Yoshiteru) of the Muromachi bakufu.  This was done with the expectation that Fujiuji would serve as the next Koga kubō recognized by the bakufu in Kyōto.

After losing in battle against the Hōjō clan, Haruuji was compelled to transfer the role to his second son, Ashikaga Yoshiuji.  Fujiuji was backed to serve as the Koga kubō from 1561 to 1562, and his position was recognized by Konoe Sakihisa, the Chief Advisor to the Emperor, or kanpaku.

Haruuji received Hōshunin, the daughter of Hōjō Ujitsuna, as his second wife, after which his relationship with Hōjō Ujiyasu, the successor to Ujitsuna, gradually deteriorated.  Haruuji allied himself with Uesugi Norimasa, the deputy of Kantō, and Uesugi Tomooki, to oppose the Hōjō clan. In 1546, Haruuji suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Kawagoe Castle, whereupon Ujiyasu made Haruuji step-down to be replaced by Ashikaga Yoshiuji as the Koga kubō.  Yoshifuji was a blood relative of the Hōjō, the son of Hōshunin (Ujiyasu’s younger sister from a different mother), and younger brother from a different mother of Fujiuji.

Fujiuji rebelled against these developments that impeded his path toward becoming the Koga kubō.  In 1557, he raised arms in a failed attempt to recapture the base of the ruling family in Koga Castle which served as the palace seat for the Koga kubō.  Haruuji was incarcerated at Kurihashi Castle in the Katsushika District of eastern Shimōsa Province, while Fujiuji was banished.  Fujiuji turned to Satomi Yoshitaka of Awa Province, seeking an opportunity to return.  Yanada Harusuke and others appealed to Uesugi Norimasa, who was residing in Echigo Province, and Nagao Kagetora (later known as Uesugi Kenshin), who was protecting Norimasa.  In 1561, Kagetora finally deployed forces to the Kantō Region.  Owing to support from wealthy families in Kantō, the contingent swelled to over 100,000 men, legitimized in their objective not only to save Fujiuji, but also to back Uesugi Norimasa as the deputy of Kantō and Konoe Sakihisa, the Chief Advisor to the Emperor.  The army did not capture all of the castles defended by the Hōjō, such as the impregnable fortress known as Odawara Castle, but Fujiuji succeeded in expelling Yoshiuji and capturing the family base at Koga Castle.

After succeeding in backing the Koga kubō which was the primary duty of the deputy of Kantō, the family headship and status of deputy of Kantō were transferred from Uesugi Norimasa to Nagao Kagetora, known thereafter as Uesugi Kenshin.  Following consultations with Norimasa and Konoe Sakihisa, Kenshin definitively opposed the appointment of Yoshiuji as the Koga kubō, and in the name of the Chief Advisor to the Emperor and the deputy of Kantō, decided to formally nominate Fujiuji as the successor to Haruuji in the role of Koga kubō.  Clans in the Kantō Region opposed to the Hōjō, including the Satake and Satomi, accepted this nomination so, for a period of several years, Fujiuji became the legitimate Koga kubō.

Nevertheless, soon after Kenshin returned to his home province of Echigo, the Hōjō mounted a counterattack against Koga, causing Fujiuji to flee to Ikewada Castle in Kazusa, a territory governed by Taga Nobuie, a retainer of the Satomi.  Thereafter, a competition unfolded between the Uesugi and the Hōjō for control of Koga.  As the representative of the Uesugi, Fujiuji entered Koga and fled to Kazusa on multiple occasions.  In 1562, Fujiuji was taken prisoner following an attack by the Hōjō army against Koga Castle and transferred to Odawara.

Fujiuji was moved several times around the Hōjō territory, including to Sagami and Izu provinces, but, from 1566, his whereabouts became unknown.  He may have been assassinated by Hōjō Ujiyasu.  The loss of Fujiuji dealt a major blow to Kenshin’s ability to govern the Kantō Region.  In connection with a settlement with the Hōjō, Kenshin had to formally recognize Ashikaga Yoshiuji as the Koga kubō.  Meanwhile, there are indications that Fujiuji’s younger brothers (Ashikaga Fujimasa, Ashikaga Teruuji, and Ashikaga Iekuni) aimed to recover the position of Koga kubō, but they did not wield enough influence, and the efforts appeared to have ceased during the Tenshō era (1573-1592).