The Ōnin War 1467–77


Map Code: Ax01828

The Ōnin War came about when a dispute over the succession of the Ashikaga Shogunate led to civil war. Individuals from the families of two powerful daimyo (feudal lords) led the fighting, namely Hosokawa Katsumoto and Yamana Sozen (the Red Monk), and most of the Shugos (feudal governors) took sides in the dispute. Both sought to strengthen their positions and gain control after the Shogun’s death. The families’ mansions in Kyoto acted as military bases and initially fighting was restricted to the city. Soon, however, it spread to outlying regions and the devastation took its toll. Kyoto was in ruins, with most of its inhabitants massacred or driven away; the economy declined, trade was halted and there was a rise in piracy. The violence lasted for a decade, wiping out many great clans. Although Hosokawa Katsumoto died in the conflict his clan eventually won. The government and the Shogun held little power and, with the emperor merely a figurehead, the struggle for authority would continue among the daimyos for many years.

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