Ashikaga Clan (Koga kubō)
Fourth Koga kubō
Lifespan: Eishō 5 (1508) to 5/27 of Eiroku 3 (1560)
Rank: Koga kubō
Title: Junior Fourth Rank, Chief of Palace Guards for the Left Division
Clan: Ashikaga – branch of the Koga kubō in the Kantō Region
Bakufu: Fourth Koga kubō of the Muromachi bakufu
Lord: Ashikaga Yoshiharu → Ashikaga Yoshiteru
Father: Ashikaga Takamoto
Mother: Daughter of Utsunomiya Shigetsuna
Wife: [Formal] Daughter of Yanada Takasuke, [Second Wife] Hōshunin (daughter of Hōjō Ujitsuna)
Siblings: Haruuji, Ungaku, Harunao (Uesugi Norihiro)
Children: Fujiuji, Yoshiuji, Fujimasa, Teruuji, Iekuni, Daughter (wife of Satomi Yoshihiro)
Ashikaga Haruuji served as the fourth head of the Kantō branch of the Ashikaga clan based in Koga in Shimōsa Province, a role known as the Koga kubō, from 1535 to 1552. This influential position was formally recognized by the shōgun family that led the Muromachi bakufu from the capital of Kyōto.
Haruuji was born in 1508 as the eldest son of Ashikaga Takamoto, the third Koga kubō, who served from 1512 to 1535. In his youth, he was known as Kamewakamaru. Later, he received one of the characters from Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the shōgun, and adopted the name Haruuji.
In 1531, Haruuji became the Koga kubō after the end of Kantō-Kyōroku Insurrection (Kantō-kyōroku no nairan), internal conflicts that occurred in parallel in the Kantō branch of the Ashikaga family and the Yamauchi-Uesugi family who served as deputies to the Ashikaga in Kantō.
In 1538, Haruuji allied with Hōjō Ujitsuna in the First Battle of Kōnodai, eliminating his uncle, Ashikaga Yoshiaki. Yoshiaki was a member of a cadet family of the Ashikaga who identified as the Oyumi kubō, based at Oyumi Castle in Shimōsa. This family had challenged Haruuji’s family for governance of Kantō dating back to the era of Haruuji’s father, Takamoto. Haruuji recognized Ujitsuna for his contributions to the victory by nominating him to serve as the deputy in Kantō. A glimpse of Haruuji’s respect for culture and friendship can be seen in a hanging scroll related to this event that contains his inscription and seal, along with poems from priests of the Kenchō Temple.
After the demise of Ujitsuna, Haruuji came into conflict with his successor, Hōjō Ujiyasu. He then allied with Uesugi Norimasa, the fifteenth head of the Yamauchi-Uesugi family and deputy for Kantō, and Uesugi Tomosada, the last head of the Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi clan. In 1546, he joined with them to invade the territory of the Hōjō, but suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Kawagoe Castle. This resulted in a loss of authority for the Koga kubō. Although his life was spared, in 1552, Haruuji was compelled to transfer his seat as the kubō to his son, Ashikaga Yoshiuji. In 1554, he was attacked at Koga Castle, and incarcerated by Ujiyasu in Hatano in Sagami Province.
In the summer of 1557, Haruuji was allowed to return to Koga Castle, but, several months later, Ujiyasu discovered a plot by Haruuji’s eldest son, Ashikaga Fujiuji, who had been banished, to overthrow Yoshiuji. Haruuji was seized again, and transferred to the Noda clan based on Kurihashi Castle. He died in 1560.