Lifespan: Unknown to 10/14 of Eiroku 5 (1562)
Other Names: Rokurō-zaemon
Lord: Tō Tsuneyoshi
Father: Endō Taneyoshi
Siblings: Taneyori, Morikazu
Wife: Daughter of Tō Tsuneyoshi
Children: Yoshitaka, Yoshitane, Yoshinao, Kenshōin (?)
Endō Morikazu served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods. He was the first lord of Hachiman Castle in the Gujō District of Mino Province.
The Tō were an illegitimate branch of the Chiba clan from Shimōsa Province. When the Tō departed from the Tō demesne in the Kaijō District of Shimōsa, as members of the Tō clan, the Endō followed them to Mino Province. Residing in Achiba Castle, the Tō clan became the rulers of the Gujō District of Mino. The Endō were founded by Endō Moritane, an illegitimate child of the Tō clan who became the first lord of Kigoe Castle in Mino.
Morikazu was born as the second son of Endō Taneyoshi and was the younger brother of Endō Taneyori, the lord of Kigoshi Castle. Morikazu, Taneyori, and Taneyoshi, along with founders of the clan including Endō Moriyoshi and Endō Moritane, are surmised to have been descendants of Tō Tsuneyori, but the details are uncertain.
Morikazu wed the daughter of Tō Tsuneyoshi, serving under Tō Tsunetaka (Tsuneyoshi’s son). Tsuneyoshi was the head of the main branch of the Tō clan and the lord of Shinowaki Castle.
Wada Gorōzaemon, the son of Endō Taneshige, a maternal relative of the Tō clan, resided in a stronghold in Wada-Aizu in the township of Otara. Once he began to resist the Tō, Tsuneyoshi feared his growing power. In 1540, Tsuneyoshi plotted with Morikazu and his older brother, Endō Taneyori (Taneshige’s grandfather and the lord Kigoshi Castle). They then lured Gorōzaemon on the pretext of a consultation in regard to repairs to Shinowaki Castle, whereupon he was killed at the hands of Morikazu and Taneyori . After members of the Wada clan learned of the incident, but before they could hold a war council to discuss retribution for the act, Tsuneyoshi launched a surprise attack and decimated the clan. In the wake of these events, the land in Otara formerly held by Gorōzaemon was allocated to Endō Zenbei.
In the eighth month of 1540, Asakura Yoshikage of Echizen Province invaded Gujō, prompting Morikazu to convince Taneyori and Tsuneyoshi to commit to a decisive battle against the Asakura. On 9/3 of Tenbun 9 (1540), after Shinowaki Castle came under assault, Morikazu led forces to attack the Asakura from behind, imposing major losses on the enemy.
In 1552, upon orders of Tsuneyoshi who feared the expanding power of Kawai Shichirō, a member of the Tō clan and the lord of Fukuno Castle, Morikazu launched a surprise attack against Fukuno Castle and crushed Shichirō’s family. Morikazu, who had been residing in Kigoshi Castle with his older brother, Taneyori, was then granted the former landholdings of the Kawai and constructed Tsuruoyama Castle.
Usurping the Tō
In the era of Taneyori, the Endō gained more influence than their lords, the Tō. Tō Tsunetaka (Tsuneyoshi’s son) was a treacherous character so Tsuneyoshi arranged for Morikazu to wed his daughter and adopted him as his son-in-law. According to one theory, Tsuneyoshi transferred headship of the clan to Morikazu between 1555 and 1558. Meanwhile, Tsuneyoshi sought to arrange for Tsunetaka to wed the daughter of Taneyori as a means to cement the authority of the Tō over the Endō. Citing the malevolent character of Tsunetaka, Taneyori declined and, instead, wed her to Hatasa Rokurōemon. Resentful of this act, on 8/1 of 1559 (Eiroku 2), when Taneyori came to visit at Tōdoyama Castle on Mount Akadani, Tsunetaka had a retainer named Nagase Naizen shoot him with an arquebus.
At this time, Morikazu, serving as the lord of Kariyasu Castle, and had already been pondering the overthrow of the Tō, so he called upon his allies in Gujō to mount an attack to avenge the killing of his brother. According to one theory, Morikazu also gained support from Mitsuki Yoshiyori of Hida Province and set-up a position atop Mount Hachiman. After a ten-day siege, on 8/14, he rescued Taneyori’s son and heir, Endō Tanetoshi, and toppled Tōdoyama Castle, destroying Tsuneyoshi and forcibly taking over the headship of the clan from the Tō. Thereafter, Morikazu constructed Gujō-Hachiman Castle to serve as his main base, developed a town below the castle, and asserted control over the entire Gujō District of Mino.
Tsunetaka was harbored by the Uchigashima of Hida Province. Decades later, he shared a similar fate as the Uchigashima, dying in the collapse of Kaerikumo Castle during the Great Earthquake of Tenshō on 11/29 of Tenshō 13 (1586).
Morikazu had Taneyori’s son, Tanetoshi inherit the role as the lord of Kigoshi Castle and allocated one-half of the landholdings to him. Thereafter, the two families were referred to as the ryō-Endō, or the two families of the Endō. The two families came under the command of Saitō Tatsuoki. In 1561, after the army of Oda Nobunaga invaded western Mino, the Endō converged with Nagai Michitoshi, the lord of Seki Castle, to mount a defense at Moribe known as the Battle of Moribe.
The following year, on 10/14 of Eiroku 5 (1562), Morikazu died at Inokuchi. His son, Endō Yoshitaka, succeeded him at the age of thirteen and, thereafter, became the first lord of the Gujō domain in the early Edo period.