Tokugawa Ieyasu

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Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu

Tokugawa Ieyasu (previously spelled Iyeyasu); 徳川 家康 (January 31, 1543June 1, 1616) was the founder of the Tokugawa bakufu of Japan which ruled from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the restoration of the monarchy in 1868. Ieyasu was the first shogun of the Tokugawa bakufu, and ruled from 1600 (officially 1603) until his abdication in 1605.


Early Life (1543-1556)

Tokugawa Ieyasu was born on January 31, 1543 in Mikawa. His original name was Matsudaira Takechiyo, and he was the son of Matsudaira Hirotada (1526-1549), a lord of Mikawa who spent most of his time in war with the Oda and Imagawa clans. The Matsudaira were split: one side of the family wanted to be a vassal of the Imagawa clan, while the other side (Takechiyo and Hirotada's clan) prefered the Oda. This family feud was the reason behind the murder of Hidehita's father and Takechiyo's grandfather, Matsudaira Kiyoyasu (? - 1536). Unlike his father and the majority of his branch of the family, Hirotada saw the Imagawa as the lesser of two evils, and because of this, his relatives supported the Oda even stronger than before. In 1548, the Oda clan invaded Mikawa, and Hirotada turned to Imagawa Yoshimoto, the head of the Imagawa clan, for help to repulse the invasion. Yoshimoto had one condition - he told Hirotada to send Takechiyo to Sumpu as a hostage in exile. Hirotada consented, even after the Matsudaira family protested. Takechiyo was sent off to Sumpu with other non-Matsudaira men who were acting as hostages but who also were to wait on Takechiyo.

Oda Nobuhide, the leader of the Oda, found out about this and attacked Takechiyo's entourage. Takechiyo was abducted and confined to Owari's Kowatari Castle. Nobuhide threatened Hirotada that Takechiyo would be put to death unless Hirotada severed all ties with the Imagawa. Hirotada replied saying that sacrificing his own son would show how serious he was about their pact. Takechiyo was not harmed. In 1549, Hirotada died of natural causes, and a short time, Nobuhide was also dead. The already weakened Oda were thus in an even worse position, and the Matsudaira were leaderless. This left the Imagawa in a strong position, and Yoshimoto sent an army under his father's younger brother, Imagawa Sessai, to attack an Oda castle where Oda Nobuhiro, who was Nobuhide's eldest son and the new head of the Oda, lived. Sessai, who was also a brilliant statesman, took the castle and took Nobuhiro as a hostage. However, he bargained with Nobuhide's second son, Oda Nobunaga, that he would return the castle back to the Oda and spare Nobuhiro's life only if Takechiyo was handed over to the Imagawa. Nobunaga reluctantly agreed, and the castle was returned to the Oda, while Oda Nobuhiro became head of the Oda clan. Sessai, meanwhile, returned to Sumpu with Takechiyo. Takechiyo grew up in Sumpu, but his kinsmen in Mikawa were apprehensive about the future of the Matsudaira family now that the Oda were weakened and that the Matsudaira were vassals to the Imagawa.

Rise to Power (1556-1584)

In 1556, Takechiyo came of age, and changed his name to Matsudaira Motoyasu. He was allowed to return back to his native Mikawa, and the Imagawa ordered him to battle the Oda clan in a series of battles. Motoyasu's won his first battle at Terabe, and thus made a name for himself. By this time, Oda Nobuhiro had died, and the leadership of the clan had passed to Oda Nobunaga, Nobuhiro's younger brother, and Nobuhide's second son. Soon, the Matsudaira clan and the Mikawa soldiers began to ask for greater autonomy from the Imagawa. Unfazed, in 1560 Yoshimoto assembled 20,000 men (many of them from Mikawa) and marched on Kyoto - the first daimyo to do this since 1538. Motoyasu was dispatched from Mikawa with his men to attack the fortress of Marune. Succeeding in capturing the fort, Motoyasu and the Mikawa men stayed there to defend it. Because of this, Motoyasu and his men avoided the bloody Battle of Okehazama, fought near Kyoto, at which Imagawa Yoshimoto died and the Imagawa were defeated. Motoyasu retreated with his men back to Mikawa, and finally, with the death of Yoshimoto, decided to rid himself of Imagawa influence.

Motoyasu decided to ally with the Oda, striking a secret deal with Oda Nobunaga. This secrecy was necessitated since most of the Matsudaira family - including Motoyasu's wife and infant son, Hideyasu - were still in hostage in Sumpu by the new head of the Imagawa, Yoshimoto's son, Imagawa Ujizane. In 1561, Motoyasu and his men marched on the Imagawa fortress of Kaminojo, which they captured, thus notifying Nobunaga that Motoyasu was no longer loyal to the Imagawa. Motoyasu killed the castle commander, Udono Nagamochi, and took hostage Nagamochi's wife and two sons. Ujizane, reasoning that the Udono were more important retainers than the Matsudaira, released the Matsudaira family in return for Udono's wife and children.

Now having freedom of action with the return of his family, Motoyasu set about reforming the Matsudaira clan after years of decay, and pacifying Mikawa. He also nurtured and strengthened his vassals by awarding them with land. There were also castles distributed in Mikawa to the most important retainers and vassals (including Honda Tadakatsu, Ishikawa Kazumasa, Koriki Kiyonaga Sakai Tadatsugu, and Sakikabara Yasumasa), which castles, would be taken and redistributed in 1566.

In 1564, Motoyasu defeated the Mikawamonto, a militaristic anti-Matsudaira group, almost losing his life in the process when he was struck by a bullet that did not penetrate his armor. In 1565, he attacked the Imagawa defences in Totomi. In 1567, he petitioned Emperor Ogimachi to change his surname to Tokugawa. and taking the name of Tokugawa Ieyasu. In so doing, he also began to claim descent from the Minamoto clan through the Nitta clan, and ultimately, descent from the Imperial Family. At the same time, he designed a seperate family tree which claimed descent from the Fujiwara. Modern historians today use this as proof that Ieyasu was lying about his imperial roots, and it was just used (as the Ashikaga did before him) to legitimize himself.

Even though the Tokugawa family was symbolically independent, they still could not survive without the Oda clan, and were subject to Oda Nobunaga himself. When Nobunaga marched on Kyoto in 1568, and thus became the de-facto leader of Japan, many of the victorious troops were Tokugawa troops. At the same time, Ieyasu himself was eager to expand his own territories. He and Takeda Shingen, the head of the Takeda clan, in Kai, entered a pact, where they together would annex the rest of the Imagawa territory to Tokugawa territory. In 1570, Ieyasu's troops finally annexed Totomi, and later Shingen occupied Suruga and the Imagawa capital of Sumpu. By this time, Takeda-Tokugawa dealings were on a decline, and Ieyasu even sheletered his former enemy, Imakawa Ujizane, promising to restore Totomi and Suruga to him. At the same time, Ieyasu attempted to make another alliance with Uesugi Kenshin, the head of the Uesugi clan and the arch-enemy of the Takeda clan. After the Uesugi-Tokugawa alliance was complete, Ieyasu moved his capital from Hamamatsu in Mikawa to Totomi (where he would be closer to Shigen).

By this time, the Imagawa land was completely absorbed within the Tokugawa sphere of influence, and the Imagawa clan became vassals of the Tokugawa, while the Uesugi too, maintained a strong alliance. The Tokugawa and the Takeda were ready to go to war. Ieyasu still had the support of Nobunaga, but Nobunaga thought that some of Ieyasu's doings were dangerous and provocative. In 1570, however, Ieyasu led 5,000 of his own men to aid Nobunaga at the Battle of Anegawa against the Asai and Asakura clans. The Tokugawa-Oda alliance was still secure. Nonetheless, Ieyasu would not be able to aid Nobunaga for another two years because in 1571, the Takeda clan attacked.

In 1572, the Takeda took Futamata Castle from Ieyasu, and Shingen later defeated Ieyasu at the Battle of Mikatagahara, where Ieyasu almost lost his life while leading his troops. However, Takeda Shingen died in 1573, and he was succeeded by his son and heir, Takeda Katsuyori, who managed to capture the fort of Taketenjin in 1574. Even though this was an important port to the Tokugawa, the Takeda ascendancy was almost at an end. In 1575, Katsuyori attacked Nagashino Castle in Mikawa, and Ieyasu asked Nobunaga for help. When Nobunaga was apprehensive of attacking the Takeda, Ieyasu threatened to make peace with the Takeda and attack the Oda clan's positions in Owari and Mino. Nobunaga changed his mind, and led an army into Mikawa. The Oda-Tokugawa force of 38,000 inflicted a devastating defeat on the Takeda on June 28, 1575, but for the next years, Takeda Katsuyori raided Tokugawa and Oda territory frequently.

In 1579, Ieyasu's wife, and his eldest son, Tokugawa Hideyasu, were accused of conspiring with Takeda Katsuyori to assasinate Ieyasu. Ieyasu's wife was beheaded and Hideyasu was forced to commit harakiri. Ieyasu then named his third and favorite son, Tokugawa Hidetada, as heir, since his second son was to be adopted by another ascendant samurai, Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

In 1582, another combined Oda-Tokugawa force attacked and destroyed the Takeda ranks. Takeda Katsuyori, as well as his eldest son and heir, Takeda Nobukatsu, commited harakiri. Now that the Takeda were no longer a threat, Ieyasu could help Nobunaga with his campaign to reunify Japan. For his help, Ieyasu recieved de jure control of Suruga province (including Sumpu) and areas bordering the Hojo clan. The Tokugawa and Hojo allied, since Ieyasu was on friendly terms with Hojo Ujinori, younger brother of the head of the Hojo clan, Hojo Ujimasa.

In late 1582, Ieyasu was staying in Sakai, Settsu Province, when he recieved word that Oda Nobunaga had been assasinated by Akechi Mitushide. Ieyasu slipped away back to Mikawa, afraid that he too, as an ally of Oda, would be assasinated. Ieyasu did not want to attack the Akechi clan, led by Mitushide. But the Tokugawa did take advantage of the situation and took Kai and Shinano, after a desisive victory at the Battle of Yamazaki. Hojo Ujimasa, feeling threatened, sent troops into Kai. No fighting took place, and the Hojo and Tokugawa made peace soon after. In order to save face, Ieyasu gave some lands in Kai and Shinano to the Hojo. Ieyasu begain modifying his administration to base it on the model of the now-defunct Takeda, employing Takeda bands of men into the Tokugawa army. In 1583, the top candidates to lead Japan were Toyotomi Hideyoshi (the adopted father of Ieyasu's second son) and Shibata Katsuie. Ieyasu stayed neutral in this conflict, but Hideyoshi defeated the Katsuie at the Battle of Shizugatake in 1583, and after Shibata Katsuie commited harakiri, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his Toyotomi clan became the de-facto ruler of Japan.

The Road to Sekigahara (1584-1600)

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Tokugawa forces at the Battle of Nagakute (1584)

In 1584, Ieyasu decided to support Oda Nobukatsu, the eldest son and heir of Oda Nobunaga. This was intended to provoke Hideyoshi to battle, since the Oda were weakened after the murder of Nobunaga and the Tokugawa were much stronger than them now (though the ruling Toyotomi were more powerful than both of them). After Oda Nobukatsu assented, Tokugawa troops took the traditional Oda stronghold of Owari, in an effort to entice Hideyoshi onto the battlefield. Hideyoshi responded by sending an army into Owari and began his Komaki Campaign. Ieyasu won the only notable battle of the campaign, the Battle of Nagakute, and by the end of 1584, a truce between the Toyotomi/Oda and the Tokugawa was in effect. Through it all, Oda Nobukatsu had switched sides to save himself, making a seperate truce with Hideyoshi long before the one between Ieyasu and Hideyoshi. The Oda clan and their terrtories (including Owari) were annexed to Toyotomi's lands, marking an end to the Oda clan's political power. Ieyasu went to Osaka in 1585, and gave a promise to end the fighting against Hideyoshi.

Nonetheless, the Komaki Campaign made Hideyoshi distrustful of Ieyasu, and there was only one instance (the Odawara Campaign of 1590) where Toyotomi and Tokugawa fought together. In 1585, Ishikawa Kazumasa left Ieyasu for Hideyoshi, after which Ieyasu reformed all of the Tokugawa military structure on the Takeda model. The Tokugawa did not participate in Hideyoshi's invasions of Shikoku and Kyushu, as well as the pacification of Honshu, but they were a buffer between the conflicts between the Toyotomi and the Hojo in the 1580's. Ieyasu did the best he could for Hojo Ujimasa, but in the end, the Tokugawa switched over to the Toyotomi side in 1589, the year in which the Odawara Campaign would begin.

In Hideyoshi's invasion of the Hojo clan's territories in 1590, Ieyasu himself led 30,000 men out to battle. The Toyotomi-Tokugawa forces put siege to the city of Odawara. During this time, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu got closer - Hideyoshi offered a trade-off. He would give Ieyasu the eight Kanto provinces in return for the five provinces that were the traditional stronghold of the Tokugawa and their Matsudaira ancestors, which Ieyasu currently held. In 1590, the Hojo were defeated and their lands were annexed to the Toyotomi lands, ending the clan's 450 year reign.

After this, Ieyasu eagerly gave up his five provinces of Mikawa, Totomi, Suruga, Shinano, and Kai and moved up to his new power base in the Kanto region, setting himself up in the castle town of Edo in Kanto. He was now a great lord to be reckoned with. Now, surrounded by the sea and the mountains, he was far away from the mainstream area of Japanese politics and had autonomy from the Toyotomi, possessed by nobody else in Japan at that time.

In 1592, Hideyoshi invaded Korea in a bid to attack China and India and "rule the world". Though the Japanese armies took the capital, they were harassed by Korean guerillas throughout the mountainous country. The Tokugawa never took part in this attack, Ieyasu remaining stationed in Kyushu, probably so Hideyoshi could keep an eye on him. Nonetheless, Ieyasu's retainers and vassals consolidated the new Tokugawa lands and Edo while Ieyasu was gone. In 1598, the Japanese withdrew from Korea, and Ieyasu returned to Edo.

In 1593, Hideyoshi fathered a son and heir, Toyotomi Hideyori. In 1598, he called a meeting that would determine six regents responsible for ruling for his son after Hideyoshi himself died. The six to be chosen as regents (tairo) for Hideyori were Maeda Toshiie, Mori Terumoto, Ukita Hideie, Uesugi Kagekatsu, Kobayakawa Takakage, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. All five were retainers of Ieyasu who were also loyal to Hideyoshi. Ieyasu was the most powerful of all these men.

Lead-up to the Battle of Sekigahara (1598-1603)

Toyotomi Hideyoshi finally died in 1598. He was succeeded by his son and heir Hideyori, who was put officially in the care of one of his regent Maeda Toshiie. As soon as Hideyoshi died, Regent Ieyasu began to make alliances with various anti-Toyotomi families, alienating his fellow regents. After Toshiie died in 1599, Ieyasu led his troops to Fushimi and occupied Osaka Castle, which angered the other four regents (Takakage had died). Opposition to Ieyasu was led most valiantly by Ishida Mitsunari who was not himself a regent but had previously attempted to assasinate Ieyasu in 1599. A few of Ieyasu's top generals wanted to kill Ishida, but Ishida ironically found refuge with Ieyasu.

The "friendship" was soon broken. There were two factions - the "eastern camp" centered around Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the "western camp" around Ishida Mitsunari. Mitsunari was determined to attack first - and he allied with Regent Uesugi Kagekatsu who had a fief not too far away from Ieyasu's center of Edo. Ishida wanted Uesugi to engage Ieyasu's troops long enough so that the Western faction could take Edo and defeat the Eastern faction under Ieyasu. In June 1600, Kagekatsu and Ieyasu began to fight. Ieyasu led his allies, the Date and Mogami clans, to defeat the Uesugi and led an army west to defeat the Ishida in October. Ishida re-took Fushimi from Ieyasu, and even though this was a great achievement, it took time, and Ishida's troops were slow.

In the province of Shinano, 36,000 Tokugawa men led by Ieyasu's son and heir, Tokugawa Hidetada, were stationed for no apparent reason and were doing nothing. Ieyasu knew, however, that the Kobakawa clan, led by Kobayakawa Hideaki, was planning to defect from the Ishida side, and that the Mori clan was not planing to fight.

The Battle of Sekigahara began on October 21, 1600, with a total of 160,000 men. The Ishida and Tokugawa sides were standing in front of each other, while the Kobayakawa and the Mori were stationed on mountains, obviously to be the deciding factor on who won the battle. Hidetada, who had been summoned from Shinano, had not even arrived yet. Finally, after the Tokugawa appeared to be defeated, the Mori and Kobayakawa aided the Tokugawa in their attack, defeating and crushing Ishida. The Battle of Sekigahara was a Tokugawa and Eastern victory. The Western bloc had been crushed, Kobayakawa and Mori were allied with Tokugawa, and over the next few days Ishida Mitsunari and other western generals were beheaded. Tokugawa Hidetada later arrived, but he had missed all the action. Tokugawa Ieyasu was now the de facto ruler of Japan.

Immediatly after the victory at Sekigahara, Ieyasu redistributed land to his vassals who had served him. Vassals who had pledged allegience to him before Sekigahara were known as the fudai daimyos, while those who pledged allegience to him after were known as tozama daimyos. Ieyasu left some western daimyo intact, such as the Shimazu clan, but others were completely abolished. Nonetheless, Toyotomi Hideyori became a common citizen and lived a quiet life in Osaka Castle, while Tokugawa Ieyasu was now the ruler of Japan.


Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1603-1605)

In 1603, Tokugawa Ieyasu recieved the title of 'shogun' from Emperor Go-Yozei, at the age of 60. Ieyasu's heir was still his son Tokugawa Hidetada. As shogun, he inaugurated the Tokugawa bakufu, the third shogunal government (after the Minamoto and the Ashikaga).

Surprisingly, after doing very little as Shogun, he abdicated in 1605. His successor was his son and heir, Tokugawa Hidetada, who became the second shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty and bakufu.

The Last Years of Ieyasu (1605-1616)

Despite his abdication in favor of Hidetada, Ieyasu, holding the position of Retired Shogun, was very much still the effective ruler of Japan and would remain so until his death. Ieyasu retired to Sumpu, and supervised the construction of Edo Castle. In place of his son, Shogun Hidetada, Retired Shogun Ieyasu supervised diplomatic affairs with the Netherlands and Spain in 1609, and chose to distance Japan from them.

In 1611, Ieyasu, at the head of 50,000 men, visited Kyoto to witness the coronation of Emperor Go-Mizunoo, even though his son was officially the Shogun. In Kyoto, Ieyasu ordered the remodling of the imperial court and buildings, and made the remaining western daimyo sign an oath of fealty to him. In 1613, he composed a document known as the Kuge Shohatto, which put the court daimyo under strict supervision and left them as ceremonial figureheads. In 1614, he signed the Christian Expulsion Edict which banned Christianity, expelled all Christians and foreigners, and banned Christians from practicing their religion. Many Japanese fled to the Spanish Philippines.

In 1615, he prepared the Buke Shohatto, a document setting out the future of the Tokugawa regime.

The climax of the early Edo period was the Siege of Osaka of 1614-1615. Hideyori was still living in Osaka Castle and did not plan to rebel against Ieyasu, but Ieyasu used a pretext to attack. At first, the Tokugawa were repulsed by the remnants of the Toyotomi, led by an anxious Hideyori, but Ieyasu ordered a counter-attack. The Tokugawa, led by Shogun Hidetada, attacked Osaka castle in a lengthy siege. Finally, in late 1615, Osaka Castle fell to the Tokugawa, and Hideyori, his mother (Hideyoshi's widow, Yodogimi), Hideyori's wife, and his infant son and heir, commited seppuku. Now, the Tokugawa were free to develop Japan.

In 1616, Ieyasu fell ill and died in his bed at the age of 73. He had many children, and could die in peace knowing that he had created many branches of the family to continue the Tokugawa dynasty. He was buried in Nikko Toshogu.


Preceded by:
Tokugawa Shogun
Succeeded by:
Tokugawa Hidetada

Template:End boxar:توكوغاوا إيئه-ياسو de:Tokugawa Ieyasu fr:Ieyasu Tokugawa ko:도쿠가와 이에야스 ja:徳川家康 nl:Ieyasu Tokugawa zh:德川家康


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