The heian courtiers had occasionally engaged in

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Unformatted text preview: ony at mid-fifteenth century; and Yoshimasa—young, pampered, and effete—gave no promise whatever of becoming such a shogun. Yoshimasa was an almost inevitable product of the gradual merger of courtier and warrior elites that had occurred in Kyoto since the time of Yoshimitsu. Although the samurai leaders of the shogunate controlled the imperial court politically, they increasingly succumbed to the elegant courtier style of life; and in Yoshimasa we find a scion of the great warrior house of Ashikaga who, though graced with the title of generalissimo, had scarcely any interest in military matters. In the 1460s, after more than twenty years as nominal head of the shogunate, Yoshimasa sought to relinquish his official duties entirely in order to devote himself to what he regarded as the more pleasurable pursuits of life. Yet, far from slipping gracefully into retirement at this time, Yoshimasa helped precipitate a succession dispute between his brother and son that brought on a frightful holocaust of fighting known as the Ònin War (1467–77). Actually, the shogunal succession dispute was merely an excuse for two rival groups of daimyos to engage in a struggle for military supremacy, a struggle that the shogunate, under the inept Yoshimasa, was powerless to check. Fought largely in Kyoto and its environs, the Ònin War dragged on for more than ten years, and after the last armies withdrew in 1477 the once lovely capital lay in ruins. The Canons of Medieval Taste 121 There was no clear-cut victor in the Ònin War. The daimyos had simply fought themselves into exhaustion, and many returned home to find their domains in rebellion. Moreover, the Ashikaga shogunate, although it continued in existence until 1573, was from this time a government in name only. It was under such conditions that the country slipped into a century of conflict and disunion known as the “age of provincial wars.” Despite the carnage of the Ònin War and the widespread disorder that followed in its wake, the time of Yoshimasa was one of marvelous cultural achievement. Yoshimasa finally managed to transfer the office of shogun to his son in 1473—in the midst of the Ònin War—and a few years after the end of hostilities he began c...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.

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