Prince Moriyoshi

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Prince Moriyoshi's statue at Kamakura-gū in Kamakura

Prince Moriyoshi (護良親王 Moriyoshi Shinnō?, also called Prince Morinaga) (1308 – August 12, 1335) was a son of Emperor Go-Daigo and Minamoto no Chikako executed by Ashikaga Tadayoshi in 1335.

When Moriyoshi was 18, Go-Daigo had him named the head abbot of the Enryakuji temple on Mount Hiei.

When Go-Daigo's attempt to seize power in 1331 failed (the Genkō War), Moriyoshi fled Enryakuji to the province of Kii, meeting up with Kusunoki Masashige. They tenaciously defended the small fortress of Akasaka before finally being forced to withdraw.

He then moved to Mount Yoshino.

Masashige's heroics defending Chihaya, together with Moriyoshi's efforts to rally troops, brought a large number of warriors to the loyalist cause. By 1333, Ashikaga Takauji and Nitta Yoshisada had joined the cause. The Hōjō shogunate was soon destroyed.

Restored to the throne, Go-Daigo started the Kemmu Restoration. After refusing to appoint Ashikaga Takauji to the post of seii taishōgun, he made the double mistake of giving the title to his sons Prince Moriyoshi and Norinaga, two civilians, thus alienating Takauji and the warrior class, who felt he, as a military man and a descendant of the Minamoto, should have been shogun instead.

Takauji made false charges that Moriyoshi was planning to overthrow his father, and forced Go-Daigo to hand him over. Moriyoshi was then sent to Takauji's brother Tadayoshi in Kamakura and imprisoned in a cave near Kamakura for eight months. The cave is now within the premises of a Shinto shrine in Kamakura named Kamakura-gū. A rebellion headed by Hōjō Tokiyuki forced Tadayoshi to retreat from Kamakura. Being unable to take the prince along, Tadayoshi had him beheaded on July 23, 1335. Kamakura-gū, built around the cave where Prince Moriyoshi was imprisoned, was dedicated to him by Emperor Meiji in 1869.

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