Meiō Political Incident
The Meiō Political Incident (Meiō no seihen) was a coup d’état that occurred in the fourth month of Meiō 2 (1493) in which Hosokawa Masamoto, the deputy shōgun, ousted Ashikaga Yoshiki (Yoshitane), the tenth shōgun, and replaced him with Ashikaga Yoshitō (Yoshizumi). This resulted in a division and weakening of the Ashikaga family between Yoshitane on one side and Yoshizumi on the other. The consequences of this event were so significant it is considered in modern academia as the start of the Sengoku period.
Details of the incident
Disputes regarding the status of the shōgun
Ashikaga Yoshiki was the lineal heir of Ashikaga Yoshimi, the leader of the Western Army in the Ōnin-Bunmei War. As the conflict subsided with the Western Army facing defeat, Yoshiki and his father depended upon Toki Shigeyori to flee to Mino Province. Yoshiki’s elder cousin, Ashikaga Yoshihisa (the ninth shōgun) led shugo daimyō and members of the bakufu army (hōkōshū) on an expedition to Ōmi Province to subjugate Rokkaku Yukitaka (Takayori), but he died of illness in the third month of 1489 before the objective could be achieved.
Yoshiki traveled with his father to Kyōto whereupon Yoshiki was nominated as the tenth shōgun. Ashikaga Yoshimasa (Yoshiki’s uncle and the former shōgun) and Hosokawa Masamoto (the deputy shōgun) backed Ashikaga Kiyomitsu (later known as Yoshizumi). Yoshizumi was the son of Ashikaga Masatomo (the Horigoe kubō), head priest of the Kōgen monastery at the Tenryū Temple and cousin of Yoshihisa and Yoshiki. However, Hino Tomiko backed her nephew, Yoshiki (the son of her younger sister). After the death of Yoshimasa in the first month of 1490, on the condition that Yoshimi enter the priesthood, Yoshiki was designated to be the tenth shōgun, and that summer he was formally appointed shōgun by the Imperial Court. Tomiko, the wife of Yoshimasa and natural mother of Yoshihisa, had been associated with the family of the shōgun for almost forty years, and, in some instances, managed affairs of governance on behalf of the shōgun. As a figure representing the family of the shōgun, her support had a major role in the appointment of Yoshiki as the next shōgun, and Tomiko herself notified the Imperial Court that Yoshiki would become the successor.
Those opposing the appointment, led by Hosokawa Masamoto and Ise Sadamune, entered into a confrontation with Yoshimi and his son. On 4/27 of 1490, Sadamune resigned from his position as the head of the mandokoro, a governing body in charge of family affairs for high-ranking nobles. Sadamune had made efforts to raise Yoshihisa from a young age and was deeply trusted by Tomiko. Moreover, his father, Ise Sadachika, advised Yoshimasa to kill Yoshimi as a means to protect Yoshihisa during the Bunshō Political Incident in 1466. In this event, certain daimyō ousted Sadamune and Kikei Shinzui from their roles as close associates of Yoshimasa, the eighth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu. Sadachika is said to have feared problems would arise after the appointment of Yoshiki as the shōgun. This sense of crisis was shared by persons who supported Yoshihisa in the Ōnin-Bunmei War.
Nevertheless, for uncertain reasons, Tomiko transferred Yoshihisa’s property known as the Ogawa residence to Kiyomitsu (Yoshizumi) who had been removed from the line of succession to the shōgun. The decision to have Kiyomitsu inherit the residence that served as a symbol of the shōgun infuriated Yoshimi who regarded this act as a show of contempt toward Yoshiki. The next month, Yoshimi destroyed the residence without the permission of Tomiko, preventing its seizure. Tomiko may have attempted to transfer the Ogawa residence to Kiyomitsu with the aim of constraining the rampant behavior of Yoshimi and Yoshiki after their sudden ascent to the seat of power. Tomiko protested that Yoshimi had broken a promise to her and thereafter established a distance with Yoshiki. The relationship did not recover even after Yoshimi’s death by illness.
On 7/5, Yoshiki was formally appointed by the Imperial Court as shōgun, while Yoshimi was conferred the nominal (neverhteless elevated) royal status of jusangū. Father and son were expected to jointly govern for a period, but, in the eleventh month, Yoshimi suffered from a tumor and, despite urgent care, died on 1/7 of 1491. To Yoshiki, Yoshimi had served as a trusted political veteran and leader of the Western Army in the midst of great tumult. Given that Yoshiki had served as the shōgun for only a short time before the death of Yoshimi, it represented a significant loss. Therefore, Yoshiki had to conjure up a new approach to solidify his own political standing. After consulting with close associates, he decided to eliminate daimyō who opposed his rule and elevate his authority.
Subjugation of the Rokkaku and Kawachi Province
Yoshiki followed the policies of the former shōgun, Yoshihisa. To respond to uprisings in the Kinai Region including in Tanba and Yamashiro provinces, in the spring of 1491, he issued an Imperial edict to subjugate Rokkaku Yukitaka (later known as Takayori) and endeavored to strengthen his military posture. Members of the Hosokawa family in addition to numerous daimyō participated in the campaign, and with overwhelming military superiority, successfully drove Yukitaka to Kōka and then on to Ise. Hosokawa Masamoto opposed the effort, and during the conflict, one of his commanders named Yasutomi Motoie incurred a major loss to the Rokkaku army. Thereafter, Yoshiki relied more on other daimyō as a means to reduce his dependency upon Masamoto.
Early in 1493, Yoshiki issued an Imperial edict to subjugate Hatakeyama Motoie (later known as Yoshitoyo). Once again he requested daimyō to deploy for the campaign. Motoie was the target of the edict owing to his opposition to Hatakeyama Masanaga, the former deputy shōgun, who requested Yoshiki to lead an expedition into Kawachi Province. During the Ōnin-Bunmei War, Masanaga had engaged in a fierce succession struggle against his cousin, Hatakeyama Yoshihiro. After the death of Yoshihiro, he continued to battle against his son, Motoie. Meanwhile, the Hatakeyama clan divided between the Bishū branch and the Sōshū branch. To resolve the struggle in favor of Masanaga, and to reduce his dependency upon Masamoto, Yoshiki responded with a deployment in accordance with the wishes of Masanaga. Many daimyō joined the effort upon orders issued by Ashikaga Yoshitane in the capital, but Masamoto opposed the subjugation of Kawachi and did not participate in the deployment.
Masamoto opposed the campaigns against Rokkaku Yukitaka and Hatakeyama Motoie for multiple reasons. Similar to the Hosokawa, the Hatakeyama were a powerful clan capable of becoming deputies of the shōgun. From the perspective of a rival, a decline of influence owing to a division of the Hatakeyama clan was desirable to Masamoto and the Hosokawa. Therefore, Masamoto’s father, Hosokawa Katsumoto, intervened in the succession struggle during the Ōnin-Bunmei War in support of Masanaga from the Bishū branch. By having them fight against the Sōshū branch, Katsumoto aimed to reduce the power of the clan. However, owing to Yoshiki’s campaign in Kawachi, there was a risk that if the Hatakeyama reunified under Masanaga, the clan could threaten the Hosokawa. A reconstituted Hatakeyama clan in the same Kinai Region where Masamoto wielded influence appeared to Masamoto as a new and powerful enemy.
Yoshiki overcame the opposition of Masamoto and, on 2/15, had his army depart the capital and head toward Kawachi. On 2/24, Yoshiki arrived at the Shōgakuji Castle in Kawachi and established a base. The daimyō supporting the campaign formed a base in the environs of Takaya Castle and surrounded the site defended by Hatakeyama Motoie. Secondary castles held by allies of Motoie fell one after another, and, by the third month, Motoie became isolated while victory was at hand for Yoshiki and Masanaga.
To avoid enabling the Hatakeyama to reunify, Masamoto colluded with Masanaga’s arch-rival, Motoie. Just prior to launch of the campaign in Kawachi, Masamoto was already in contact with retainers of Motoie. The retainers further maintained contact with Ise Sadamune and other daimyō, giving them confidence to defend against an attack by Yoshiki. Masamoto brought together as allies those who were dissatisfied with Yoshiki, beginning with Ise Sadamune, daimyō such as Akamatsu Masanori, and Hino Tomiko, to earnestly plan a coup d’état against Yoshiki.
Masamoto’s coup d’état
On the evening of 4/22, Masamoto decided to raise arms and launch a coup d’état. He received Ashikaga Seikō (later Yoshizumi) at a guest house known as the Yūshoken to protect him while directing his men toward the residences of persons associated with Yoshiki. In addition to these residences, on 4/23, the soldiers attacked and destroyed the temples where Yoshiki’s younger brother and younger sister resided, during which the younger brother was killed. Meanwhile, from her position as the wife of the former shōgun (a role referred to as midai-dokoro), Hino Tomiko seized direct command and enabled Masamoto to take control of the capital.
That same day, Masamoto deposed Yoshiki and backed Seikō as the new shōgun. He then publicly declared that Masanaga had been removed from his role as the military governor of Kawachi and endeavored to bring the situation under control. On 4/28, Masamoto had Seikō return to secular life, adopt the name of Ashikaga Yoshitō, and assume the role as the eleventh shōgun. Yoshitō later changed his name to Yoshitaka and then Yoshizumi.
The news caused major reverberations across the class of retainers who served directly under the shōgun, including daimyō and well as those serving in the military and administrative divisions of the bakufu. A document purportedly from Ise Sadamune addressed to the daimyō and direct retainers of the shōgun who accompanied Yoshiki ordered them to obey the new shōgun, whereupon, by 4/27, almost all of the daimyō and retainers returned from Kawachi to Kyōto. Thereafter, the retainers gathered together under Yoshitō and, with the exception of Hatakeyama Masanaga, none of the daimyō continued support for Yoshiki.
Immediately after the coup d’état, it was rumored that Akamatsu Masanori would support Yoshiki over Masamoto owing to his close relationship with Yoshiki and his active cooperation in the campaign against the Rokkaku. However, prior to Masamoto’s launch of the rebellion, Masanori had wed his older sister, thereby establishing a close relationship. As a result, Masanori ultimately decided to ally himself with Masamoto.
Ōuchi Yoshioki, the son of Ōuchi Masahiro (the military governor of Suō and Nagato provinces) who participated in the deployment to Kawachi on behalf of his father, was also an ally of Masamoto. On 4/1, Yoshioki’s younger sister was abducted in Kyōto in a district under the control of Takeda Motonobu of Wakasa Province. During the Ōnin-Bunmei War, Ōuchi Masahiro fought as a member of the western army in support of Yoshiki and his father, Ashikaga Yoshimi. Masamoto and Motonobu may have taken Masahiro’s daughter (i.e., Yoshioki’s younger sister) hostage to prevent Masahiro from continuing his support for Yoshiki and to back the coup instead. However, although the daimyō returned to Kyōto, Yoshiki continued to have control over 8,000 troops under Masanaga, and these remained committed to the cause, willing to engage in a campaign of resistance. Motonobu traveled from Wakasa to Kyōto and converged with Masamoto’s army. Masanori and Yoshioki endeavored to resolve the situation with a plan for Yoshitō to be regarded as a son of Yoshiki and become his successor, but this failed.
Response of the Imperial Court
On 4/23, Masamoto informed the Imperial Court of the coup d’état, noting that Yoshiki disregarded his opposition to the campaign to subjugate Kawachi, causing him to raise arms, expel Yoshiki, and support Yoshitō as his successor.
Upon receiving news of the coup, Emperor Gotsuchi-mikado ordered his messenger, Shirakawa Tadatomi, to summon three elders, including Kajūji Norihide, Kanroji Chikanaga, and Sanjōnishi Sanetaka. The Emperor was indignant about the ouster of the shōgun whom he appointed, and given that Prince Katsuhito (later Emperor Gokashiwabara) had become an adult, stated a desire to abdicate the throne to him. Tadatomi and Chikanaga opposed his position, with Chikanaga noting that this event was a problem within the bakufu, and not to be managed by the Court. Chikanaga further stated it would be acceptable to have them inform the shōgun family of the Emperor’s intent to abdicate to the Prince, a plan with which the Emperor agreed. In the background, the Court did not have funds for an enthronement ceremony, placing them in the vulnerable position of having to borrow the funds from Masamoto, the leader of the coup that ousted the shōgun who had originally been appointed by the Court.
Over a five-day period from 4/24, the Court held a ceremony as planned with the reading of Buddhist scriptures, and owing to attendance by the Emperor, postponed judgment regarding the outcome of the coup. When Masamoto paid a visit to donate funds needed for the ceremony, Seikō was renamed Yoshitō and appointed the honorary title of Junior Fifth Rank (Lower). Chikanaga then issued an imperial proclamation that as recognition for the visit and donation of 300 coins, the Court would grant a title to Masamoto. Masamoto, however, did not provide sufficient funds so the appointment was deferred. At the time, the Court required funds to operate, and could not assign Emperor’s role to the Prince without support from the bakufu that was under the control of Masamoto. Meanwhile, even Masamoto could not influence the Court without the provision of funds, reflecting the interdependent relationship of the Court and the bakufu.
Masanaga’s death and Yoshiki’s surrender
To further his campaign against Hatakeyama Masanaga, on 4/7, Masamoto dispatched forces under the command of Uehara Motohide and Yasutomi Motoie from the capital to Kawachi Province. Hatakeyama Motoie, the military governor of Kawachi, launched an attack from Takaya Castle, allying with the daimyō supporting Masamoto, resulting in a contingent of over 40,000 soldiers.
Cornered by the Hosokawa army, Yoshiki and Masanaga sheltered in the Shōgakuji Castle in Kawachi and intended as before to continue a battle of resistance. The forces constructed over one hundred towers around the temple, locating Yoshiki’s imperial chambers in the highest tower with the aim of solidifying their defenses. Finally, an army comprised of from several thousand to ten thousand men departed from Kii Province (one of Masanaga’s territories) and marched north toward the Shōgakuji Castle. However, the Kishū forces were denied passage in the city of Sakai by forces under Askamatsu Masanori. This led to clashes between the armies, with the Kishū forces supported by a fleet of warships on the coast acting in concert with the ground forces to violently attack the Akamatsu army. Masanori himself led the Akamatsu forces, and after several hours of fighting, the Kishū forces were defeated. The loss by the Kishū forces, who were the last ray of hope, dealt a severe blow to Yoshiki and Masanaga. A victory by the Kishū forces would have left open the possibility of overturning the coup, but that dream vanished, while the provisions at the Shōgakuji Castle dwindled and Masanaga fell into despair.
On 4/24, the army laying siege to the castle commenced a full-scale assault, toppling the castle in the morning of 4/25. Masanaga and his senior retainers killed themselves. Following Masanaga’s demise, Yoshiki and his close associates surrendered at the base of Uehara Motohide wearing traditional military attire of the Ashikaga. The men were taken to the Ryōan Temple in Kyōto, then confined in Motohide’s residence.
On 4/29, a noble named Hamuro Mitsutada was killed by Uehara Motohide upon orders of Masamoto. Mitsutada was relied upon by Yoshiki after having been a close associate of Yoshiki’s father, Yoshimi. In 1493, upon petition to the Emperor, he surpassed eighteen individuals to be awarded the title of Provisional Chief Councilor of State, temporarily exercising more authority than representatives of the highest-ranking families, temples, and the deputy shōgun. Even Masamoto could not offer reports to Yoshiki without going through Mitsutada’s messenger. From the perspective of Masamoto, Mitsutada should have been eliminated just as Masanaga. Moreover, Masamoto’s forces destroyed the Hamuro residence in Kyōto.
Prior to Masanaga killing himself, Hatakeyama Hisanobu (the designated heir to the Hatakeyama family) was compelled to flee by himself from the Shōgakuji Castle to Kii Province. The Hosokawa forces surrounding Shōgakuji Castle were unable to apprehend Hisanobu. Uehara Motohide suspected Tsumori Kuninori, the head priest of the Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine connected through marriage with the Yusa family (retainers of the Bishū family), of harboring Hisanobu, whereupon, on 9/10, he ousted Kuninori and torched the shrine.
Causes for the coup d’état and assessment
The primary reason why Masamoto rebelled against Yoshiki owed to Yoshiki’s breach of a promise to delegate affairs of governance to Masamoto. On two occasions, Yoshiki ignored the protests of Masamoto by approving large-scale military expeditions, including one against the Rokkaku clan in Ōmi Province and another in Kawachi Province. Masamoto himself notified the Imperial Court of these actions.
Yoshiki originally decided upon the expedition to Kawachi in response to an appeal from Hatakeyama Masanaga. Masamoto discussed the need to prevent reunification of the Hatakeyama clan, but Yoshiki ignored him. Yoshiki approached Masanaga as a means to reduce his dependency upon Masamoto. Yoshiki surmised that he could secure Masanaga’s loyalty by offering him favors. He was driven away just before the elimination of Hatakeyama Motoie when reunification of the Hatakeyama clan had become imminent. From the era of his father, the Hatakeyama clan had focused on sharpening their influence, so it was only a matter of time before their revival as a powerful daimyō family. Although Masamoto had launched the coup d’état, he was pressed to halt the expedition to Kawachi through his own powers. This was likely connected to the secret collusion between Masamoto and Motoie.
Yoshiki may have planned to expel Masamoto. Jinson, a monk from the Kōfuku Temple in Nara, noted that Yoshiki sought to eliminate Masamoto for opposing his policies. In fact, Yoshiki suddenly leveraged Hosokawa Yoshiharu, the head of the Awa-Hosokawa, the most powerful non-lineal branch of the Hosokawa family, to serve as a rival to Masamoto. Yoshiki bestowed one of the characters from the shōgun family to Yoshiharu, and until such event, the Awa-Hosokawa clan had not been permitted to use that character. Yoshiki then moved from his location in the Sanjō district to the residence of Yoshiharu in the Ichijō district, and demonstrating fondness for him, steadily raised his status to serve as a rival to Masamoto.
In addition to the rising stature of Yoshiharu, a corresponding elevation in the authority of Yoshiki himself served to corner Masamoto. Yoshiki was not originally in a position to become the shōgun, but owing to the death of Yoshihisa, he unexpectedly became the shōgun, so his connections to the daimyō and direct retainers of the shōgun were weak, and he had a need to demonstrate his capabilities to those around him. Therefore, even if Yoshiki was able to overcome Masamoto’s objections, he still had a reason to continue the battle.
Yoshiki demonstrated his military prowess on the front lines, subjugating the Rokakku after Yoshihisa had been unable to do so. He then endeavored to garner control of Kawachi, further raising his stature. Accompanying this progress, governance increasingly centered around Yoshiki, while Masamoto was subject to further isolation from those around him. Yoshiki treated Masamoto coldly, aligning himself with Masanaga and Yoshiharu instead. This may have caused Masamoto to be consumed by fear of elimination by security forces with the support of Yoshiki and Masanaga. These circumstances are noted as a direct cause for Masamoto’s plan to launch a coup d’état to oust Yoshiki.
Numerous daimyō participated in the expeditions against the Rokkaku and in Kawachi as a show of loyalty to the shōgun and with the expectation that, in the time of a personal crisis, an individual daimyō could call upon other daimyō to field a large army. In relation to the expedition against the Rokkaku, Shiba Yoshihiro petitioned for support to recapture Echizen Province after it had been lost to the Asakura clan during the Ōnin-Bunmei War. After the expedition in Kawachi, Yoshiki responded to the request from Yoshihiro by attempting another expedition to subjugate Echizen. In fact, after Yoshiki issued an edit to subjugate Echizen, numerous daimyō were mobilized, raising the possibility that the Asakura would be eliminated.
Yoshiki requested a deployment twice in succession, while the daimyō were compelled to bear significant expenses for the military and troop provisions. For the campaign against the Rokkaku, the Ōuchi clan transported 16,000 koku of provisions from their territory. Following the subjugation of Kawachi, the daimyō were expected to bear the burden of an expedition planned for Echizen. This caused a feeling of war-weariness to spread across the daimyō. When compelled to make a choice between Masamoto and Yoshiki after the coup, all of the daimyō with the exception of Masanaga aligned with Masamoto.
Hino Tomiko also participated in the coup, and came around to align with Masamoto in his support for Yoshitō. As a representative of the shōgun family, she was concerned about an abuse of power by Yoshiki. She already held this view from the time that his father, Yoshimi, destroyed the Ogawa residence. Moreover, Yoshiki repeatedly ordered the daimyō to deploy on burdensome expeditions, gradually giving rise to a sense of dissatisfaction toward the bakufu. As long as Yoshiki remained in power, there was a possibility for a continuing series of expeditions on the horizon, beginning with Echizen. Owing to her experience over decades supporting the shōgun family, Tomiko may have perceived this feeling of desperation among the daimyō as a significant threat to the continued existence of the bakufu. Ultimately, rather than Masamoto, Tomiko herself may have made the decision to remove Yoshiki from his role as the shōgun.
Hino Tomiko and Ise Sadamune of the chief governing body known as the mandokoro influenced even the direct retainers of the shōgun to abandon Yoshiki. As the representative of the shōgun family, Tomiko played a key role in the original appointment of Yoshiki as shōgun. Therefore, her decision to remove him likely had a significant impact on the views of the direct retainers. Sadamune, similar to Masamoto, was in contact with retainers of Hatakeyama Motoie, while the daimyō and direct retainers of the shōgun participating in the expedition to Kawachi abandoned Yoshiki based on a forged document of uncertain contents. According to records, Motoie was informed of a plot to oust Yoshiki one month before the coup, indicating that Sadamune was engaged in planning to support Yoshizumi as the successor. Sadamune’s role in support of Yoshizumi was so significant that Yoshizumi even said he would entrust all affairs of governance to Sadamune.
Even in an era where social structures were being destroyed, Masamoto’s actions represented a clear betrayal. As in the phrase that obedience to one’s lord is a pledge to be observed in the prior life, the present life, and the after life, Masamoto should have been duty-bound to respect Yoshiki as his lord. However, Tomiko’s consent as representative of the shōgun family had significant consequences, providing justification for the coup, so that the daimyō and direct retainers of the shōgun ultimately abandoned Yoshiki, and support for Yoshitō gained traction. Undoubtedly, Masamoto did not achieve the coup by himself, but did so with the cooperation of Hino Tomiko and Ise Sadamune.
Owing to the coup, Masamoto seized control of the bakufu, but the army serving under the direct control of the shōgun (known as hōkōshū) had dissolved and the role of the shōgun itself had become nominal so that, beginning with Masamoto, the Hosokawa family itself wielded control over the organs of power in the bakufu administration. However, there is also a view that the authority of the bakufu continued. Upon request of Hino Tomiko, Ise Sadamune served as the guardian of Yoshizumi in his role as the tenth shōgun, and frequently served to keep Masamoto’s actions in check. Uehara Motohide, the deputy military governor of Tanba Province associated with the Keichō family and a leader in the coup d’etat who acted upon orders of Masamoto, suddenly died. Once those who were not supportive of the coup reached a majority of the retainers in the Keichō family, the family observed the will of the bakufu as much as possible and changed course to be on guard so that the faction supporting the former shōgun, Yoshiki, did not regain power. As a consequence, after the coup, the bakufu and the Keichō family may have entered into a cooperative relationship.
The political organs of the bakufu that remained in Kyōto were not managed by Masamoto, but rather by Ise Sadamichi, the head of the mandokoro, or chief governing body, and the military governor of Yamashiro Province. Sadamichi was the son of Ise Sadamune. Frequent bargaining over issues occurred between Sadamichi and Masamoto. Upon request of Hino Tomiko, Sadamichi served as the guardian of Yoshizumi. Decisions made by Yoshizumi and Masamoto were not deemed official without written orders communicated from Sadamichi. Immediately after the coup, Sadamichi sought to pacify the kokujin, or provincial landowners, who led uprisings in Yamashiro Province under the pretext that he was resisting counterattacks by supporters of Yoshiki. This was part of a broader aim to gain control over all of Yamashiro, while Masamoto adopted a similar strategy. As a result, the kokujin split, with one faction supporting the Ise and the other faction supporting the Hosokawa. The next year, the uprisings in Yamashiro headed toward dissolution.
After Masanaga took his own life, the Bishū branch of the Hatakeyama clan collapsed while Motoie became head of the Sōshū branch supported by Masamoto. Motoie quickly attacked Kii Province where Hatakeyama Hisanobu had fled, but was repelled, so the Bishū and Sōshū families remained divided.
In the same year that Hōjō Sōun, a retainer of Imagawa Ujichika, invaded Izu Province, Masamoto may have allied with Uesugi Sadamasa in a bid to overthrow Ashikaga Chachamaru, the older half-brother (of a different mother) of Yoshizumi after Chachamaru’s betrayal of Yoshizumi. Sōun was a cousin of Ise Sadamune and was in close communication with those in the capital.
After being held in confinement at the residence of Uehara Motohide in Kyōto, on the evening of 6/29 of 1493, Yoshiki was able through the connections of his close associates to travel to the harbor town of Hōjōzu in the Imizu District of Etchū Province. Jinbō Naganobu, the district deputy military governor of the Nei and Imizu districts and a senior retainer of Nagamasa, received him. Yoshiki was accompanied to Etchū by a contingent of over seventy men including retainers, nobles, and monks with whom he had close relations. He established his quarters at the Shōkō Temple, in an administration known as the Etchū kubō. As a result, the public authority of the bakufu was divided, with disputes persisting across the region between the two factions.
Yoshiki issued an appeal from Etchū to subjugate Masamoto. In response, numerous daimyō families including the Hatakeyama of Noto Province, the Asakura of Echizen Province, the Uesugi of Echigo Province, and the Togashi of Kaga Province, pledged their allegiance and joined the campaign. Daimyō from more distant provinces including the Ōtomo from Kyūshū pledged their support. Masamoto promptly dispatched an army to Etchū, but, in battle against forces from Etchū, incurred a major defeat in the first part of the ninth month and was forced to retreat. Those in Ettchū and the surrounding area lined-up in support of Yoshiki, while the bakufu in Kyōto failed to respond. Years later, in the ninth month of 1498, Yoshiki departed from Etchū and went to the Asakura of Echizen for support. He then changed his name from Yoshiki to Yoshitada.
Masamoto’s anxiety did not end at this point. After the fall of Shōgakuji Castle, Hatakeyama Hisanobu fled to Kii Province. From Kii, Hisanobu fiercely resisted Hatakeyama Motoie, an ally of Masamoto and gained in strength. Finally, in the second month of 1499, Hisanobu’s forces killed Motoie and he avenged his father. Hisanobu assembled a large force south of the capital extending over an area from Kii to Kawachi. While exchanging messages with Yoshitada in Echizen, he kept watch on developments in the capital and posed a threat to the Hosokawa.
From the ninth month of 1499, Yoshitada and Hisanobu acted in concert in an effort to launch a pincer attack against the capital from Echizen and Kawachi respectively. However, after a fierce battle, Masamoto defeated Yoshitada who then fled to the protection of the Ōuchi clan in Suō Province. Furthermore, Hisanobu’s strategy failed, causing him to retreat to Kii. Despite their losses, Yoshitada and Hisanobu remained a threat to Masamoto. Once Yoshizumi matured, he endeavored to move beyond his original role as a nominal leader under the control of Masamoto and to exercise authority himself. This led to tensions between Yoshizumi and Masamoto. Although Masamoto led the coup d’état to establish his own form of dictatorship, he ended up with both internal and external challenges.
Meanwhile, conflict persisted between the Hosokawa-Keichō family (the main branch of the Hosokawa clan) and the the Awa-Hosokawa family (a non-lineal branch of the clan). Two years after the coup, Hosokawa Yoshiharu of the Awa-Hosokawa family died. Through the support of Yoshitada, Yoshiharu had served as a rival to Masamoto. Masamoto was obsessed with an ascetic form of Buddhism known as shugendō and had no children. Fearful of a rise in power by the Awa-Hosokawa branch, he adopted Hosokawa Sumiyuki from the Kujō family, one of five high-ranking families of nobles descended from the Fujiwara clan. However, those in the Awa-Hosokawa family adamantly opposed Sumiyuki, who had no blood ties to the Hosokawa, as Masamoto’s designated successor. Masamoto then adopted Hosokawa Sumimoto, the son of Yoshiharu, removing Sumiyuki from the line of succession. This led to a plot by advocates of Sumiyuki to assassinate Masamoto, an event known as the Lord Hosokawa Incident, followed by a succession struggle that continued for over two decades thereafter, known as the Eishō Disturbance.
The Meiō Political Incident was not only a coup d’état involving the central authorities. Instead, it served as a major inflection point leading to military conflict and the usurpation of authority in provinces throughout the country. For this reason, along with the Ōnin-Bunmei War that raged in and around the capital of Kyōto from 1467 to 1477, this incident is regarded as the advent of the Sengoku period. Following the incident, the ruling shōgun family split into two factions between Yoshitane and Yoshizumi, along with their respective heirs. Each used different names to indicate the head of the Ashikaga family, such as Muromachi-dono, kubō, and taiju. Under one theory, the later assassination of the thirteenth shōgun, Ashikaga Yoshiteru, by Matsunaga Hisamichi and members of the Miyoshi clan (Miyoshi sanninshū) in an event known as the Eiroku Incident (Eiroku no hen), was intended to resolve this split between the two factions. In the end, the division of the shōgun family persisted along with conflict between an assortment of clans throughout the Sengoku period until Oda Nobunaga marched to Kyōto in support of Ashikaga Yoshiaki in the ninth month of 1568.