Sieges of Kuromaru

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Sieges of Kuromaru
Part of the Nanboku-chō Wars
Date August 1338
Location Near Kuromaru fortress, Echizen province
Result Northern Court victory
Belligerents
Northern Court Southern Court
Commanders and leaders
Hosokawa Akiuji Nitta Yoshisada 
Strength
Unknown 50 horse
Siege of Kuromaru
Date Autumn 1339
Location Kuromaru fortress, Echizen province
Result Siege succeeds; fortress falls to Southern Court
Belligerents
Northern Court Southern Court
Commanders and leaders
Shiba Takatsune Wakiya Yoshisuke

The Kuromaru (黒丸), or Black Fortress, was a fortress of Kanrei Shiba Takatsune located in Japan's Echizen province (present-day Nittazuka, Fukui, Fukui Prefecture). It was attacked twice during the Nanboku-chō Wars of the 14th century, during which it was likely both built and destroyed.

The fortress was first attacked in August 1338 by a small force under Nitta Yoshisada, numbering roughly fifty horse, in what would come to be known as the battle of Fujishima. Hosokawa Akiuji had been ordered by Ashikaga Takauji to aid Shiba Takatsune in the defense, and encountered Nitta's force a short distance from the fortress. The warrior monks of the Heisen-ji monastery, originally part of Nitta's force, were bribed by Shiba to abandon the attack, and Nitta's rush to fill the ensuing gap in his formations led to him and his horsemen running into Hosokawa's. In the battle which followed, Nitta was mortally wounded by an arrow.

The following year, upon his enthronement, Emperor Go-Murakami ordered the late Nitta's brother, Wakiya Yoshisuke, to lead another attack on the fortress. This assault was successful, and ended in Shiba's surrender.

Taiheiki[edit]

Chapter 20 of the Taiheiki chronicles the events of the death of Yoshisada at Kuromaru. It states that an arrow wounded his horse, making it unable to jump over a ditch. It fell and trapped Yoshisada's left leg. An arrow in the flurry struck him between the brows, and he drew his sword and slit his throat. The resemblance to the death of Minamoto no Yoshinaka as described in the Heike Monogatari has led to questions about whether the account is factual.

Helmet of Yoshisada[edit]

In 1656, a farmer tilling the land near the site of the battle uncovered a helmet and presented it to Matsudaira Mitsumichi, daimyo of the Fukui Domain. The construction of the helmet indicated that it had belonged to a high-ranking warrior, and the domain judged that it had belonged to Yoshisada. The helmet is now at the Fujishima Shrine in Fukui [1]. A marker, the Nittazuka, stands at the site where the farmer found the helmet.

References[edit]

  • Sansom, George (1961). "A History of Japan: 1334-1615." Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Taiheiki (in Japanese)