Maeda Toshiie

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In this Japanese name, the family name is "Maeda".
Maeda Toshiie
Maeda001.jpg
Maeda Toshiie
Lord of Kaga
In office
1583–1599
Preceded by none
Succeeded by Maeda Toshinaga
Personal details
Born (1538-01-15)January 15, 1538
Arako, Japan
Died April 27, 1599(1599-04-27) (aged 61)
Nationality Japanese
Spouse(s) Maeda Matsu

Maeda Toshiie (前田 利家?, January 15, 1538 – April 27, 1599) was one of the leading generals of Oda Nobunaga following the Sengoku period of the 16th century extending to the Azuchi-Momoyama period. His father was Maeda Toshimasa. He was the fourth of seven brothers. His childhood name was "Inuchiyo" (犬千代). His preferred weapon was a yari and he was known as "Yari no Mataza" (槍の又左), Matazaemon (又左衛門) being his common name. The highest rank from the court that he received is the Great Counselor Dainagon (大納言).

Early years[edit]

Statue of a young Maeda Toshiie in Arako, Nagoya

Toshiie was born in the village of Arako (present-day Nakagawa-ku, Nagoya), the fourth son of Maeda Toshimasa, who held Arako Castle. Toshiie served Oda Nobunaga from childhood (first as a page) and his loyalty was rewarded by being allowed to be the head of the Maeda clan, very unusual for a fourth son with no apparent failures among his elder brothers. Just like Nobunaga, Toshiie was also a delinquent, usually dressed in the outlandish style of a kabukimono. It is believed he also became a friend to Kinoshita Tokichiro (later Toyotomi Hideyoshi) in their youth. Just as Hideyoshi was known as Saru, 猴 or "monkey," it is believed that Toshiie was called Inu, 犬 or "dog" by Nobunaga. Due to a long-standing belief that dogs and monkeys are never friendly to each other, Toshiie is often depicted as reserved and stern, in contrast to Hideyoshi's talkative and easy-going nature.

Military life[edit]

Grave of Maeda clan at Mount Koya

Toshiie began his career as a member of the akahoro-shū (赤母衣衆), the unit under Oda Nobunaga's personal command. He later became an infantry captain (ashigaru taishō 足軽大将) in the Oda army. During his military career, Toshiie made the acquaintance of many important figures, such as Hashiba Hideyoshi, Sassa Narimasa, Akechi Mitsuhide, Takayama Ukon, and others. Toshiie also was a lifelong rival of Tokugawa Ieyasu. After defeating the Asakura clan, Maeda fought under Shibata Katsuie in the Hokuriku area. He was eventually granted a han (Kaga Domain) spanning Noto and Kaga Provinces. Despite its small size, Kaga was a highly productive province which would eventually develop into the wealthiest han in Edo period Japan, with a net worth of 1 million koku (百万石); thus, it was nicknamed Kaga Hyaku-man-goku (加賀百万石).

Toshiie benefited from a core group of very capable senior vassals. Some, like Murai Nagayori and Okumura Nagatomi, were retainers of long standing with the Maeda.

After Nobunaga's assassination at Honnō-ji (本能寺) by Akechi Mitsuhide and Mitsuhide's subsequent defeat by Hideyoshi, he battled Hideyoshi under Shibata's command in the Battle of Shizugatake. After Shibata's defeat, Toshiie worked for Hideyoshi and became one of his leading generals. Later somewhere during this time he was forced to fight another of his friends, Sassa Narimasa. Narimasa was greatly outnumbered and felled by Toshiie, following the major Maeda victory at the Battle of Suemori Castle. Before dying in 1598, Hideyoshi named Toshiie to the council of Five Elders to support Toyotomi Hideyori until he was old enough to take control on his own. However, Toshiie himself was ailing, and could manage to support Hideyori for only a year before he died as well.

Toshiie was succeeded by his son Toshinaga.

Family[edit]

Matsu depicted in a sculpture at the Oyama Shrine in Kanazawa
  • Father: Maeda Toshimasa (d. 1560)
  • Siblings:
    • Maeda Toshihisa (d. 1583)
    • Maeda Yasukatsu (d. 1594)
    • Maeda Toshifusa
    • Sawaki Yoshiyuki (d. 1572)
    • Maeda Hidetsugu (d. 1585)
    • Maeda Masa (given in marriage to Takabatake Sadayoshi)

Toshiie's wife, Maeda Matsu, was famous in her own right. Strong-willed from childhood, she was well-versed in the martial arts and was instrumental in Toshiie's rise to success. After her husband died, Matsu, then known by her Buddhist nun name of Hoshun-in, assured the safety of the Maeda clan after the year 1600 by voluntarily going as a hostage to Edo, capital of the new shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, whom she loathed throughout her life as she watched him, her husband, and Hideyoshi compete for power.

Their sons all became daimyo in their own right. Their daughters married into prestigious families; the eldest, Kō, married Maeda Nagatane, a distant relative of Toshiie who became a senior Kaga retainer; Ma'a, was a concubine of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Gō was adopted by Hideyoshi and became the wife of Ukita Hideie, and Chise, who was first wedded to Hosokawa Tadaoki's son Tadataka, later married Murai Nagayori's son Nagatsugu.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Hanagasaki Moriaki 花ケ前盛明, ed. Maeda Toshiie no Subete 前田利家のすべて. Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Ōraisha 新人物往来社, 2001.
  • Iwasawa Yoshihiko 岩沢愿彥. Maeda Toshiie 前田利家. Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kōbunkan 吉川弘文館, 1966.
  • Kitamura Saburō 北村三郎. Maeda Toshiie monogatari: Kaga hyakumangoku no so 前田利家物語:加賀百万石の祖. Kanazawa: Hokkoku Shuppansha 北国出版社, 1978.
  • Maeda Toshiyasu 前田利祐. Omatsu to Toshiie: Kaga hyakumangoku wo tsukutta hitobito おまつと利家:加賀百万石を創った人びと. Tokyo: Shūeisha 集英社, 2001.
  • Tsumoto Yō 津本陽. Maeda Toshiie 前田利家. Tokyo: Kōdansha 講談社, 1994.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
none
Lord of Kanazawa
(Kaga Domain)

1583–1599
Succeeded by
Maeda Toshinaga