Haga Takakatsu

芳賀高勝

Haga Clan

Bushō

Shimotsuke Province

Lifespan:  14xx to Eishō 9 (1512)

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Lieutenant of Imperial Guards of the Left Division

Clan:  Haga (descended from the Kiyohara clan)

Lord:  Utsunomiya Shigetsuna

Father:  Haga Kagetaka

Siblings: Takakatsu, Takatsune

Haga Takakatsu served as a bushō from the latter part of the Muromachi period to the Sengoku period.  He was a retainer of the Shimotsuke-Utsunomiya clan.

The Haga descended from the Kiyohara clan who, together with the Mashiko clan, led an influential band of bushi in Shimotsuke Province known as the kiseiryōtō.

Takakatsu was born as the son of Haga Kagetaka.  Following the death of Kagetaka in 1497, Takakatsu succeeded him as head of the clan.  Around this time, the Utsunomiya clan was split into two factions, with one supporting Utsunomiya Shigetsuna (the seventeenth head of the clan) and the other backing the recently deceased Kagetaka.  Together with his lord (Shigetsuna), Takakatsu relocated to the Hōshu monastery founded by Tenei Shōtei and located on a hilltop, changing the name to the Kaichō Temple.  In 1510, he then donated the Kōsai Temple to the Hōshu monastery which was on the grounds of the Shimotsuke-Kokubun Temple.

Similar to his father during his latter years, Takakatsu made light of his lord, Shigetsuna, and exhibited arrogant behavior.  He issued documents recognizing the rights of landowners at his own discretion, and these were ratified by Shigetsuna in a manner reflecting a reversal of roles between lord and servant.  Around this time, the Haga clan controlled a fief of 30,000 koku (totaling 60,000 with the fief held by the party led by the Haga), making them the preeminent landowner in the family.  Therefore, although retainers, the Haga possessed military resources comparable to the Utsunomiya.

In 1506, a conflict erupted between Ashikaga Shigeuji (the Koga kubō) and his son, Ashikaga Takamoto, over control of the clan in an event known as the Eishō Conflict.  Takakatsu intervened in the dispute, siding with Shigeuji.  Shigetsuna, however, backed Takamoto, leading to a decisive split of the Shimotsuke-Utsunomiya family and small-scale discord.  Out of concern for the turmoil in the family, as well as a desire to consolidate his own power, Shigetsuna committed to a purge of the Haga clan, steadily building-up military resources to oust the Haga.  In 1512, Takakatsu feared Shigetsuna’s maneuvers, whereupon he orchestrated a forcible takeover of the clan by Shigetsuna’s eldest son, Utsunomiya Tadatsuna, and compelled Shigetsuna to retire.

Later that same year, Shigetsuna exacted revenge by murdering Takakatsu in Utsunomiya Castle.  This triggered a major internal conflict known as the Utsunomiya Disturbance involving conflict between the Utsunomiya and Haga clans.  Through the combined efforts of Shigetsuna and his retainer, Mibu Tsunashige, along with support from the Yūki clan, the Haga were defeated and the conflict subsided.  As a consequence, the influence and military power of the Haga declined to approximately one-half the level of their peak.

After his demise

After the Utsunomiya Disturbance, the family came together under Shigetsuna and a foundation was laid to unify the governance of Shimotsuke.  Nevertheless, as though he assured himself of becoming the absolute ruler of the province and bringing the chaos to an end, on 11/8 of 1516, Shigetsuna died of illness in Utsunomiya Castle.  Thereafter, Haga Takatsune (the younger brother of Takakatsu) requested support from Mibu Tsunafusa (an elder in the Utsunomiya clan) and Yūki Masatomo of the Yūki clan to maneuver behind the scenes in a bid to avenge the killing of Takakatsu.  This plotting of Takatsune resulted in the ouster of Tadatsuna from Utsunomiya Castle.  Moreover, Shigetsuna’s third son, Utsunomiya Okitsuna, was installed as the new head of the clan, and the administration was governed autocratically by Mibu Tsunafusa, Haga Takatsune, and Haga Takataka.  While in charge of the clan, Shigetsuna and Tadatsuna leveraged the authority of the Koga kubō and, as one of the first sengoku daimyō families, the Shimotsuke-Utsunomiya wielded significant power; however, in the era of Okitsuna and Utsunomiya Hisatsuna, their influence declined precipitously, and fell far behind neighboring daimyō.