Lifespan: Tenbun 4 (1535) to 5/4 of Tenshō 14 (1586)
Rank: bushō, daimyō
Titles: Junior Fifth Rank (Lower), Governor of Settsu, Governor of Shinano
Lord: Ikeda Katsumasa → Ikeda Tomomasa → Oda Nobunaga → Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Father: Araki Yoshimura
Siblings: Murashige, sister (wife of Nomura Tango-no-kami), Suita Murauji
Wife: Daughter of Ikeda Nagamasa, daughter of Kitakawara Mikawa-no-kami, [Formal?] daughter of Kawanabe clan (Dashi)
Children: Muratsugu, Muramoto, Iwasa Matabei
Araki Murashige served for successive lords as a bushō and daimyō. He was also recognized posthumously as one of the Rikyū shichi-tetsu, a group of seven leading pupils of Sen-no-rikyū, a renowned tea master and contemporary of Murashige. Murashige was the eldest son of Araki Yoshimura, a retainer of the Ikeda clan in Settsu Province and lord of Ikeda Castle. The Araki were relatives of the Hatano clan, descendants of Fujiwara no Hidesato.
Murashige first served Ikeda Katsumasa and wed the daughter of Ikeda Nagamasa, thereby becoming a relative of the Ikeda clan, who supported Oda Nobunaga. However, in 1570, he joined Ikeda Tomomasa to conspire with the Miyoshi sanninshū, or Miyoshi Group of Three, and betrayed the Ikeda in favor of the Miyoshi. In furtherance of this plan, Murashige and Tomomasa banished Katsumasa, whereby Tomomasa gained control of the Ikeda clan and became the new lord of Ikeda Castle.
On 8/28 of 1571, allied forces under the command of Murashige and Nakagawa Kiyohide defeated Wada Koremasa and Ibaraki Shigetomo at the Battle of Shiraikawara. Those killed in the battle included Koremasa, a senior retainer of Oda Nobunaga who originated from the Rokkaku clan of Ōmi Province. Despite having betrayed the Ikeda who served the Oda, Nobunaga appreciated Murashige’s personality and, in 1573, allowed him to defect from the Miyoshi to the Oda and become lord of Ibaraki Castle. That same year, he hosted Nobunaga at the time of the assault on Ashikaga Yoshiaki and made contributions during the Battle of Wakae Castle in Kawachi Province against Miyoshi Yoshitsugu. Meanwhile, Ikeda Tomomasa finally surrendered to Nobunaga and served under Murashige. This enabled Murashige to take full control of the Ikeda clan in an illustration of the phenomenon of gekokujō during the Sengoku period, whereby lower-ranking persons usurped their former masters.
On 11/15 of 1574, Murashige captured Itami Castle, home base of the Itami clan, a kokujin, in Settsu Province. He became lord of Itami Castle and was appointed to govern Settsu. The next year, Murashige eliminated the Arima clan of Settsu, successors to the Akamatsu clan as local governors of Arima, and pacified the district. Murashige abandoned Akutagawa and Koshimizu castles which had been the seat of power of Settsu Province under the Hosokawa and Miyoshi, and established a new system of governance based at Arioka Castle (formerly Itami Castle). Thereafter, Murashige obeyed Nobunaga, serving with valor in campaigns against adherents of the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple at the Battle of Takaya Castle and the Battle of Tennōji. He also fought for the Oda against the Echizen Ikkō-ikki in addition to the Conquest of Kishū to garner control of Kii Province. Murashige received the Court titles of Junior Fifth Rank (Lower) and Governor of Settsu.
In the tenth month of 1578, Murashige joined the army of Hashiba Hideyoshi in the Battle of Miki against the Bessho clan based at Miki Castle in Harima Province, and then, unexpectedly, rebelled against Nobunaga. The true reason for this action is unknown, although numerous theories have been raised. One reason given is based on his close relationship with Ashikaga Yoshiaki and the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple, who may have urged him to join in the opposition to Nobunaga. Settsu Province under Murashige’s control was situated in a strategic location for Hideyoshi’s campaign to subjugate the western provinces as well as for the advance by Akechi Mitsuhide into Harima and Tanba. A rebellion by Murashige would isolate both of these commanders. Another theory is that one of his senior retainers, Nakagawa Kiyohide, was secretly provisioning the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple, causing Murashige to rebel out of fear of execution if discovered by Nobunaga. Another possibility was strong opposition voiced by kunishū and local villagers toward the prospect of being governed by the Oda, causing them to appeal to Murashige to resist an advance into Settsu. Finally, Murashige may have had disagreements with other senior commanders or been dissatisfied with his role in the context of Nobunaga’s western campaign relative to the assignments of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Akechi Mitsuhide, and Sakuma Nobumori.
Upon learning of the rebellion, Nobunaga sent several senior retainers (Akechi Mitsuhide, Matsui Yūkan, and Mami Shigemoto) in an effort to convince Murashige to change his mind. To seek vindication, Murashige headed toward Azuchi Castle, but, en route to the castle, one of his retainers, Nakagawa Kiyohide, reminded him at Ibaraki Castle that once Nobunaga doubts the loyalty of one of his retainers, he eventually eliminates them. Murashige heeded this warning by returning to Itami. Although Hideyoshi was an old acquaintance of Murashige, he sent Kuroda Yoshitaka to Arioka to encourage Murashige to change his mind, but Murashige responded by tying-up Yoshitaka and confining him to a dungeon.
Thereafter, Murashige holed-up in Arioka Castle, and firmly resisted the Oda army for an extended period in the Siege of Arioka Castle. Senior retainers including Nakagawa Kiyohide and Takayama Ukon betrayed Murashige and sided with the Oda, resulting in an overwhelmingly unfavorable situation for Murashige. He managed to ward-off Mami Shigemoto and his men, briefly causing the Oda to retreat, but his supplies began to run low, and anticipated reinforcements from the Mōri failed to materialize, driving Murashige into a corner. Murashige crafted a plan to send his men into battle, and then retreat, and if that did not go well, then to vacate Amagasaki and Hanakuma castles and plead for forgiveness. Instead, on 9/2 of 1579, he fled Arioka Castle with five or six associates on a boat under cover of darkness to Amagasaki Castle (formerly known as Daimotsu Castle) occupied by his eldest son, Araki Muratsugu.
On 11/19, Nobunaga promised to the Araki retainers, including Ikeda Tomomasa who had taken over defense of the castle after Murashige’s departure, that if the defenders vacated Amagasaki and Hanakuma castles, he would spare all of the women and children. Leaving the women and children in Arioka as hostages of the Oda, Tomomasa and others traveled to Amagasaki Castle to convince Murashige to accept the proposal, but Murashige refused, whereupon Tomomasa abandoned the hostages in Arioka and fled. Owing to the scorn that Nobunaga had toward Murashige and Tomomasa, he ordered the hostages to be executed. On 12/13, a total of 122 women and children were shot by arquebus while over 500 others were burned alive inside farm houses at Nanatsumatsu near Amagasaki. On 12/16, 36 members of Murashige’s family and senior retainers were paraded around Kyōto and then executed by beheading at Rokujōgawara.
The Oda forces subsequently killed any members of the Araki clan that were found in hiding with the aim of extinguishing Murashige and the entire clan. On 8/17 of 1581, the Oda further killed retainers of Murashige found taking refuge at the Kōyasan-Kongōbu Temple, and captured and killed several hundred members of the temple located around the country.
A defiant Murashige then moved with his son, Araki Muratsugu, to Hanakuma Castle, held by Araki Motokiyo. This led to the Battle of Hanakuma Castle. Murashige then defected to the Mōri clan and lived in the town of Onomichi.
In the sixth month of 1582, Murashige returned to the city of Sakai following the Honnō Temple Incident, a dramatic coup d’état launched by Akechi Mitsuhide against Oda Nobunaga that resulted in Nobunaga’s untimely death. While Toyotomi Hideyoshi succeeded Nobunaga as the most powerful sengoku daimyō in the region, Murashige became a master in the tea ceremony in Ōsaka, associating with other cultural figures including Sen-no-rikyū. In the wake of the Siege of Arioka Castle, Murashige resented followers of Christianity and slandered Konishi Yukinaga and Takayama Ukon. Hideyoshi disfavored these acts and refused to take audience with Murashige for a long time. And, while Hideyoshi was mobilizing for battle, Hideyoshi’s wife, Kōdai-in overheard Murashige disparaging Hideyoshi, so, fearing execution, he ran away and assumed the name of Araki Dōkun, later dying in Sakai on 5/4 of 1586.