Hosokawa Ujitsuna


Hosokawa Clan


Yamashiro Province

Lifespan:  Fourth month of Eishō 10 (1513) to 12/20 of Eiroku 6 (1564)

Name Changes:  Miyaju → Kiyoshi → Ujitsuna

Other Names:  Jirō (common), Ietsuna

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Junior Fourth Rank (Lower), Master of the Western Capital Office

Clan:  Hosokawa-Keichō

Bakufu:  Muromachi – Deputy Shōgun, military governor of Settsu

Lord:  Ashikaga Yoshitane → Ashikaga Yoshiharu → Ashikaga Yoshiteru

Father:  Hosokawa Tadakata

Adoptive Father:  Hosokawa Takakuni

Siblings:  Ujitsuna, Fujikata, Katsukuni

Hosokawa Ujitsuna served as a bushō during the Sengoku period.  He was the eighteenth head of the Hosokawa-Keichō family and the thirty-fifth and final kanrei, or deputy shōgun, of the Muromachi bakufu.  Under alternate theories, Ujitsuna and his predecessor, Hosokawa Harumoto, did not serve in the role as deputy shōgun.


Ujitsuna was born as the son of Hosokawa Tadakata, the fourth head of the Tenkyū, a cadet family of the Hosokawa-Keichō (the main branch of the Hosokawa).  Based on historical accounts, his birthdate is deemed to have been on 4/30 of Eishō 10 (1513).  His childhood name was Miyaju, followed by Kiyoshi, and then he first began to use the name of Ujitsuna in the autumn of 1543.

Ujitsuna was adopted by Hosokawa Takakuni, a cousin of Ujitsuna’s father.  Takakuni was engaged in a prolonged contest for control of the Hosokawa-Keichō family known as the Conflict between the Hosokawa which began as a rivalry against Hosokawa Sumimoto.  In 1531, Takakuni was finally defeated by Sumimoto’s son, Hosokawa Harumoto, who finished the quest of his deceased father to subdue the chief rival, Takakuni, in an event known as the Collapse at Daimotsu.  In the aftermath of Takakuni’s demise, Ujitsuna’s natural father, Tadakata, was murdered despite seeking to switch his allegiance to Harumoto.  Ujitsuna then waited for an opportunity to overthrow Harumoto as a means to avenge the loss of his natural and adoptive fathers.

Ujitsuna was close in age to Hosokawa Harukuni, the younger brother of Takakuni.  After the early demise of Hosokawa Tanekuni in 1525, Takakuni’s lineal heir who served as the thirty-second deputy shōgun, Ujitsuna is surmised to have been in position to become a successor.  Perhaps owing to consideration of this role by Takakuni, in the twelfth month of 1526, Hosokawa Jirō (Ujitsuna) and Hosokawa Hachirō (Harukuni) attended their coming-of-age ceremonies at the same time.

Although Ujitsuna was adopted by Takakuni, it may have been anticipated that Takakuni would have another natural son in the future who would inherit the Hosokawa-Keichō family so Ujitsuna could have been slated to succeed to the headship of the Hosokawa-Tenkyū family.  As such, his future course may not have been formally determined early on.  From 1527, he headed toward Izumi Province and his activities conducted in Izumi during the later revolt are deemed related to connections he formed there.  During the Hokke Uprising, when Hosokawa Harukuni raised an army to oppose Harumoto, Ujitsuna, who was three years older and eligible to perform a key role, did not participate suggesting a sensitivity in their relations owing to the issue of succession to Takakuni.

After having defeated Takakuni, Harumoto became the most powerful figure in the Kinai, assuming, in 1536, the role of deputy shōgun.  Remnants of the faction supporting Takakuni, however, continued their resistance, causing instability across the Kinai. 

In 1538, for the first time, Ujitsuna joined with Hosokawa Kuniyoshi of the Hosokawa-Ueno Genba family to raise an army in Izumi Province with the aim of eliminating Harumoto.  Thereafter, he launched a series of uprisings while powerful figures in the Kinai including Hatakeyama Tanenaga, Yusa Naganori, and the Tsutsui clan among others in coordination with Amago Haruhisa from the Sanin region planned to march upon the capital amounting to a widespread military campaign.  Nevertheless, in the early stages, these opposition forces remained outmatched by the significant military power wielded by Harumoto.

In 1542, Ujitsuna raised arms again in Izumi, leading to a siege of the harbor town of Sakai in Izumi.  Evading capture, in the eighth month of 1543, he shifted his position to the Sumiyoshi District in Settsu Province but was defeated by Miyoshi Nagayoshi who was aligned with Harumoto.  In the middle of the tenth month, Ujitsuna withdrew to mountainous areas in Izumi.

Thereafter, Ujitsuna, joined by remnants of Takakuni’s faction, continued to frequently engage in small-scale battles.  In 1546, he combined with Yusa Naganori (the deputy military governor of Kawachi) and Tsutsui Junshō and made preparations to enter Takaya Castle.  Upon learning of these developments, Harumoto ordered Nagayoshi to subdue Ujitsuna.  In the eighth month, Nagayoshi entered Sakai and prepared to attack the allied forces of Ujitsuna and Naganori.  Instead, however, he became encircled.  Through the mediation of a deliberative council known as the eigōshū in Sakai, the siege was lifted, Nagayoshi retreated to Koshimizu Castle, and the allied army went north to surround Ōtsuka Castle in the Nishinari District.  During this time, Hosokawa Kuniyoshi garnered control of the capital and caused Harumoto and his followers to flee to Tanba Province.

On 7/21 of Tenbun 16 (1547) at the Shari Temple in the environs of the Higashinari District of Settsu Province, a violent clash erupted between the army led by Nagayoshi on behalf of Harumoto and the combined forces of Ujitsuna and Naganori.  After losing 400 soldiers, Ujitsuna, Naganori and surviving members of their army fled in defeat.  The Battle of Shari Temple contributed to the notoriety of Miyoshi Nagayoshi throughout the Kinai in terms of his military power and skills.

Later, a decisive event occurred after Nagayoshi, a central figure in Harumoto’s army, had a falling-out with Harumoto in regard to the treatment of Miyoshi Masanaga and switched to the side of Ujitsuna.  In 1549, after Nagayoshi defeated Masanaga at the Battle of Eguchi, Harumoto left the battle and abandoned the capital so that Nagayoshi was successful in finally driving Harumoto out to Ōmi Province.

In 1552, Ujitsuna went with Nagayoshi to Kyōto whereupon he was invested with the court title of Master of the Western Capital Office and inherited the headship of the Hosokawa-Keichō family.  Later that year, he entered Yodo Castle in Yamashiro Province which formally became his residence from the Kōji era (1555 to 1558).

On 12/20 of Eiroku 6 (1564), Ujitsuna died at Yodo Castle.  He was fifty-one years old.

Character and assessments

Ujitsuna is generally regarded to have been a puppet of Miyoshi Nagayoshi without real authority of his own.

Based on current research, however, it is noted that after Ujitsuna went to the capital, the shrines and temples such as the Tō Temple requested letters from him in addition to Nagayoshi.  Moreover, for the governance of Tanba, he issued numerous letters including for consent to the transfer of the headship of the Naitō clan to Matsunaga Nagayori after the death in battle of Naitō Kunisada.  By the Eiroku era (1558 to 1570), Nagayoshi positioned Ujitsuna in a formal manner as his lord.  Moreover, servants selected by Hosokawa Kuniyoshi such as Imamura Yoshimitsu and Koizumi Hidekiyo who were formerly involved in the governance of Kyōto in service of Nagayoshi, after the death of Kuniyoshi, moved to serve Ujitsuna.  As such, during the Tenbun era (1532 to 1555), Ujitsuna demonstrated a degree of influence in the Kinai region so it would not be accurate to characterize him as a mere puppet of Nagayoshi.

According to one scholar, prior to the death in battle of Naitō Kunisada (an influential supporter of Ujitsuna) Ujitsuna and Nagayoshi governed on a joint basis.  To oppose Yoshiteru and Harumoto, Ujitsuna entrusted the de facto authority to Nagayoshi and, in lieu of centralizing power, maintained his roles as the head of the Hosokawa-Keichō family and military governor of Settsu.  From the perspective of Nagayoshi and the Miyoshi administration, Ujitsuna was not simply a puppet but an active collaborator.