Monjūjo Munekage


Monjūjo Clan


Chikugo Province

Lifespan:  15xx to 9/2 of Bunroku 2 (1593)

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Vice Minister of Justice

Clan:  Monjūjo

Lord:  Ōtomo Yoshimune → Kobayakawa Hidekane

Father:  Monjūjo Shigetsura

Mother:  Daughter of Kamachi Akimori

Siblings:  Munekage, Shigeharu, Machino 正白

Wife:  Cousin of Tachibana Muneshige

Children:  Masatsura

Monjūjo Munekage served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.  He served as the lord of Nagaiwa Castle in Chikugo Province.  The Monjūjo were a key member of a group known as the Fifteen Castles of Chikugo comprised of fifteen high-ranking kokujin, or provincial landowners, based in Chikugo Province under the command of the Ōtomo clan of neighboring Bungo Province during the Sengoku period.

Munekage first associated with the Ōtomo clan of Bungo.  He received one of the characters in his name from Ōtomo Yoshimune, adopting the name of Munekage.  In 1578, at the Battle of Mimikawa, the Ōtomo incurred a major defeat that resulted in a loss of influence.  Meanwhile, the Ryūzōji clan of Hizen Province extended their reach into Chikugo, causing many local powers to abandon the Ōtomo in favor of the Ryūzōji.  Munekage, together with Gojō Shigesada, continued to align with the Ōtomo, keeping watch on the Akizuki clan and others in Chikuzen.  Later, the Ryūzōji garnered control of almost all of Chikugo, but, in an attack against his base at Nagaiwa Castle, Munekage repelled the allied forces of the Akizuki and Hoshino clans.  Fighting valiantly, he then succeeded in toppling an auxiliary castle of the Hoshino.  For his efforts, Munekage was permitted to use the family crest of the Ōtomo family and was treated on a par with family members of the Ōtomo.
After the death of Ryūzōji Takanobu, Munekage contributed to efforts to expel clans in Chikugo opposed to the Ōtomo including the Kuroki and the Tajiri.  After the main division of the Ōtomo army departed from Bungo, Munekage remained in Chikugo to maintain the command of the Ōtomo.  In the twelfth month of 1584, members of the Akizuki and Hoshino clans along with his great uncle, Monjūjo Akikage, assauted his base, but Munekage, together with his younger brother, Monjūjo Shigeharu, repelled the attackers and killed Akikage en route to a victory.  Later, he endured an invasion of Chikugo by the Shimazu clan of Satsuma Province during which he holed-up in Nagaiwa Castle, defending his base to the end.  After the arrival of the Toyotomi army, Munekage served as a guide for the vanguard forces during their invasion of Hyūga Province.  After the war, he received official recognition of his rights to his landholdings.
After the Subjugation of Kyūshū by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Munekage served the Kobayakawa clan, participating in the Bunroku Campaign on the Korean Peninsula.  He made frequent contributions on the battlefield, but, according to historical records of the Monjūjo family.  On 9/2 of Bunroku 2 (1593), Munekage, together with his younger brother, Machino 正白, served in the vanguard forces of Kobayakawa Hidekane.  In 河東郡, approximately 80 kilometers to the southwest of Jinju, the forces encountered Liu Ting and forces of the Ming dynasty, during which several hundred of the vanguard forces were killed in action.

During this battle, Tachibana Muneshige rescued the Kobayakawa army so Munekage’s son, Monjūjo Masatsura, entered into service for the Tachibana clan.