Hosokawa Tanekuni


Hosokawa Clan

Yamashiro Province

Hosokawa Tanekuni

Lifespan:  Eishō 5 (1508) (?) to 10/23 Daiei 5 (1525)

Other Names:  Rokurō (common)

Rank:  shugo daimyō

Clan:  Hosokawa-Keichō

Bakufu:  Muromachi – Deputy Shōgun, military governor of Tanba and Settsu provinces

Lord:  Ashikaga Yoshiharu

Father:  Hosokawa Takakuni

Mother:  Daughter of Hosokawa Masakata

Siblings:  Tanekuni, sister (formal wife of Kitabatake Harutomo), sister (formal wife of Yamana Toyosada), Mochikuni, Takayori, Ankokuji Ryūunsai

Children:  Yorikuni

Hosokawa Tanekuni served as a shugo daimyō during the Sengoku period.  Tanekuni was the sixteenth head of the Hosokawa-Keichō family, the military governor of Tanba and Settu provinces, and the thirty-second kanrei, or deputy shōgun, of the Muromachi bakufu.

In 1508, Tanekuni was born as the son of Hosokawa Takakuni, the thirty-first deputy shōgun.  His mother was the daughter of Hosokawa Masakata, the head of the Hosokawa-Tenkyū, a cadet family of the Hosokawa-Keichō (the main branch of the Hosokawa clan).

During his coming-of-age ceremony, Tanekuni, with the backing of his father, received one of the characters from the name of Ashikaga Yoshitane, who reverted to power as the tenth shōgun in 1508.  He then adopted the name of Tanekuni.

In Daiei 5 (1525), Takakuni became forty-two, deemed a year of misfortune by tradition.  On 4/21 of the same year, Takakuni entered the priesthood, adopted the monk’s name of Dōei, appeared as a priest, and transferred the headship of the Hosokawa-Keichō family and the role as the deputy shōgun to Tanekuni.  On 10/23 (or, under another theory, in the twelfth month), Tanekuni died early of illness at the age of eighteen.  This occurred only one-half year after transfer of the role and left Takakuni very despondent.  Tanekuni’s son, Hosokawa Yorikuni, later wandered around the eastern provinces.

Theories regarding birth year

Under an alternate theory, rather than 1508, Tanekuni was born ten years earlier in 1498.  The substantiation for this theory is as follows:

First, practically speaking, it is not likely that if he died at age eighteen, he already had a son, Yorikuni, whereas this is more likely if Tanekuni was twenty-eight.

Second, while Tanekuni received one of the characters from the name of Ashikaga Yoshitane, his uncles, Hosokawa Harukuni and Hosokawa Michimasa (Takakuni’s younger brothers), received characters from the names of Ashikaga Yoshiharu and Ashikaga Yoshiteru who served as shōgun after Yoshitane.  Traditionally, when an individual is conferred a character from the name of a noble, the name bestowed is confirmed at the coming-of-age ceremony.  Based on this order, Tanekuni can be viewed as having been older than his uncles.  The birth year of Harukuni was unknown for a long time, but one scholar concluded that a historical reference to the birth of the head of Bōshū on 8/29 of Eishō 13 (1516) was a reference to the birthdate of Harukuni.  Therefore, at the time that Tanekuni died, Harukuni would have been only ten years old and prior to his coming-of-age ceremony.  Further, this scholar asserted that Michimasa (Terumasa) was a fictional character created by the Chōfu-Hosokawa family.

Third, Yoshitane resumed his role as the shōgun in 1508, so the question is whether he conferred a character from his name before he absconded in 1521 owing to conflict with Takakuni.  Fourteen is old enough for a coming-of-age ceremony, which on its own is not inconsistent with the theory that he was born in 1508.  If the birth year is deemed to have been 1498, his father, Takakuni, would have been fourteen or fifteen years old at the time but it is not likely that Takakuni had a son at this age.  In any event, Tanekuni’s birth year cannot be confirmed from historical records so remains uncertain.

Uncertainties regarding appointment to the role as the deputy shōgun

As noted above, on 4/21 of Daiei 5 (1525), Takakuni transferred the headship of the Hosokawa-Keichō family and the position of deputy shōgun to Tanekuni.  In fact, however, when first entering into service for the Muromachi bakufu as the head of the Hosokawa-Keichō family on 6/14, there are no records of orders from Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the twelfth shōgun, in regard to Tanekuni’s appointment to the role as the deputy shōgun.  It is surmised that the role of deputy shōgun remained vacant following Takakuni’s resignation after the end of the coming-of-age ceremonies for Yoshiharu in the twelfth month of Daiei 1 (1521).