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Divided Loyalties: Pirates And Rival Courts

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Chapter Summary

Fear of the wakō real or imagined, created a powerful discourse of victimhood among coastal communities in Korea and China, just as people in northern Kyushu for a long time had lived in fear of 'Silla pirates'. The collapse of the Kamakura bakufu divided loyalties in many areas of Japan, and at a regional level these were often reflected in the form of longstanding family rivalries. For long periods it was the forces of the Southern Court that held the balance of power in Kyushu. On one level the age of rival courts was an important transitional stage in the political fragmentation of the late medieval era, as shugo daimyo and their vassals carved up territory in a succession of regional wars. A singular example of a community that took the initiative in mobilizing its own armed forces was the Matsura-tō in northwest Kyushu.

Keywords: Kamakura bakufu; Matsura-tō; northern Kyushu; rival courts; shugo daimyo; Silla pirates; wakō



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