Tokugawa Ieyasu

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In this Japanese name, the family name is "Tokugawa".
Tokugawa Ieyasu
徳川家康
Tokugawa Ieyasu2.JPG
1st Tokugawa shogun
In office
1603–1605
Monarch Go-Yōzei
Preceded by Sengoku period
Succeeded by Shogun:
Tokugawa Hidetada
Personal details
Born (1543-01-31)January 31, 1543
Okazaki Castle, Mikawa
Died June 1, 1616(1616-06-01) (aged 73)
Sunpu, Japan
Spouse(s) Lady Tsukiyama
Relations Father:
Matsudaira Hirotada
Mother:
Odai-no-kata
Children Legitimate:
Matsudaira Nobuyasu
Kame-hime
Illegitimate:
Yūki Hideyasu
Toku-hime
Tokugawa Hidetada
Others
The Tokugawa clan crest

Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川 家康?, January 31, 1543 – June 1, 1616) was the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, which ruled from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Ieyasu seized power in 1600, received appointment as shogun in 1603, abdicated from office in 1605, but remained in power until his death in 1616. His given name is sometimes spelled Iyeyasu, according to the historical pronunciation of we.[1][2] Ieyasu was posthumously enshrined at Nikkō Tōshō-gū with the name Tōshō Daigongen (東照大権現?).

Early life (1542–1556)[edit]

Tokugawa Ieyasu was born in Okazaki Castle in Mikawa on the 26th day of the twelfth month of the eleventh year of Tenbun, according to the Japanese calendar. Originally named Matsudaira Takechiyo (松平 竹千代), he was the son of Matsudaira Hirotada (松平 広忠), the daimyo of Mikawa of the Matsudaira clan, and Odai-no-kata (於大の方, Lady Odai), the daughter of a neighboring samurai lord, Mizuno Tadamasa (水野 忠政). His mother and father were step-siblings. They were just 17 and 15 years old, respectively, when Ieyasu was born. Two years later, Odai-no-kata was sent back to her family and the couple never lived together again. As both husband and wife remarried and both went on to have further children, Ieyasu in the end had 11 half-brothers and sisters.

The Matsudaira family was split in 1550: one side wanted to be vassals of the Imagawa clan, while the other side preferred the Oda. As a result, much of Ieyasu's early years were spent in danger as wars with the Oda and Imagawa uji (clans) were fought. This family feud was the reason behind the murder of Ieyasu's paternal grandfather, Matsudaira Kiyoyasu (松平 清康). Unlike his father and the majority of his branch of the family, Ieyasu's father, Hirotada, favored the Imagawa clan.

In 1548, when the Oda clan invaded Mikawa, Hirotada turned to Imagawa Yoshimoto, the head of the Imagawa clan, for help to repel the invaders. Yoshimoto agreed to help under the condition that Hirotada send Ieyasu to Sunpu as a hostage. Hirotada agreed. Oda Nobuhide, the leader of the Oda clan, learned of this arrangement and had Ieyasu abducted from his entourage en route to Sunpu. Ieyasu was just six years old at the time.[3]

Nobuhide threatened to execute Ieyasu unless his father severed all ties with the Imagawa clan. Hirotada replied that sacrificing his own son would show his seriousness in his pact with the Imagawa clan. Despite this refusal, Nobuhide chose not to kill Ieyasu but instead held him for the next three years at the Manshoji Temple in Nagoya.

In 1549, when Ieyasu was 7,[3] his father Hirotada died of natural causes. At about the same time, Oda Nobuhide died during an epidemic. The deaths dealt a heavy blow to the Oda clan. An army under the command of Imagawa Sessai laid siege to the castle where Oda Nobuhiro, Nobuhide's eldest son and the new head of the Oda, was living. With the castle about to fall, Imagawa Sessai offered a deal to Oda Nobunaga (Oda Nobuhide's second son). Sessai offered to give up the siege if Ieyasu was handed over to the Imagawa clan. Nobunaga agreed, and so Ieyasu (now nine) was taken as a hostage to Sunpu. Here he lived a fairly good life as hostage and potentially useful future ally of the Imagawa clan until 1556 when he was age 15 years old.[3]

Rise to power (1556–1584)[edit]

In 1556 he came of age, and, following tradition, changed his name from Matsudaira Takechiyo to Matsudaira Jirōsaburō Motonobu (松平 次郎三郎 元信). One year later, at the age of 16 (according to East Asian age reckoning), he married his first wife and changed his name again to Matsudaira Kurandonosuke Motoyasu (松平 蔵人佐 元康). Allowed to return to his native Mikawa, the Imagawa ordered him to fight the Oda clan in a series of battles. Motoyasu fought his first battle at the Siege of Terabe and later succeeded in delivering supplies to a border fort through a bold night attack.

By 1560 the leadership of the Oda clan had passed to the brilliant leader Oda Nobunaga. Yoshimoto, leading a large Imagawa army (perhaps 20,000 strong) attacked the Oda clan territory. Motoyasu with his Mikawa troops captured a fort at the border and then stayed there to defend it. As a result, Motoyasu and his men were not present at the Battle of Okehazama where Yoshimoto was killed by Oda Nobunaga's surprise assault.

With Yoshimoto dead, Motoyasu decided to ally with the Oda clan. A secret deal was needed because Motoyasu's wife and infant son, Nobuyasu, were held hostage in Sunpu by the Imagawa clan. In 1561, Motoyasu openly broke with the Imagawa and captured the fortress of Kaminojo. Motoyasu was then able to exchange his wife and son for the wife and daughter of the ruler of Kaminojo castle. In 1563 Nobuyasu was married to Nobunaga's daughter Tokuhime.

For the next few years Motoyasu set to reform the Matsudaira clan and pacifying Mikawa. He also strengthened his key vassals by awarding them land and castles in Mikawa. They were: Honda Tadakatsu, Ishikawa Kazumasa, Koriki Kiyonaga, Hattori Hanzō, Sakai Tadatsugu, and Sakakibara Yasumasa.

An Ukiyo-e print depicting the Battle of Azukizaka. In his early days as daimyo of Mikawa Ieyasu had difficult relations with the Jōdō temples which escalated in 1563–64.

Motoyasu defeated the military forces of the Mikawa Monto within Mikawa province at the Battle of Azukizaka. The Monto were a warlike group of monks that were ruling Kaga Province and had many temples elsewhere in Japan. They refused to obey Motoyasu's commands and so he went to war with them, defeating their troops and pulling down their temples. In one battle, Motoyasu was nearly killed when he was struck by a bullet which did not penetrate his armor. Both Motoyasu's Mikawa troops and the Monto forces were using the new gunpowder weapons which the Portuguese had introduced to Japan just 20 years earlier.

In 1567, Motoyasu changed his name yet again, with his family name becoming "Tokugawa" and his given name becoming "Ieyasu." By so doing, he claimed descent from the Minamoto clan. No proof has actually been found for this alleged descent from Seiwa tennō, the 56th Emperor of Japan.[4]

Ieyasu remained an ally of Oda Nobunaga and his Mikawa soldiers were part of Nobunaga's army which captured Kyoto in 1568. At the same time Ieyasu was expanding his own territory. He and Takeda Shingen, the head of the Takeda clan in Kai Province made an alliance for the purpose of conquering all the Imagawa territory. In 1570, Ieyasu's troops captured Tōtōmi Province while Shingen's troops captured Suruga Province (including the Imagawa capital of Sunpu).

Ieyasu ended his alliance with Takeda and sheltered their former enemy, Imagawa Ujizane; he also allied with Uesugi Kenshin of the Uesugi clan—an enemy of the Takeda clan. Later that year, Ieyasu led 5,000 of his own men supporting Nobunaga at the Battle of Anegawa against the Azai and Asakura clans.

In October 1571, Takeda Shingen, now allied with the Hōjō clan, attacked the Tokugawa lands of Tōtōmi. Ieyasu asked for help from Nobunaga, who sent him some 3,000 troops. Early in 1573 the two armies met at the Battle of Mikatagahara. The Takeda army, under the expert direction of Shingen, hammered at Ieyasu's troops until they were broken. Ieyasu fled with just 5 men to a nearby castle. This was a major loss for Ieyasu, but Shingen was unable to exploit his victory because Ieyasu quickly gathered a new army and refused to fight Shingen again on the battlefield.

Fortune smiled on Ieyasu a year later when Takeda Shingen died at a siege early in 1573. Shingen was succeeded by his less capable son Takeda Katsuyori. In 1575, the Takeda army attacked Nagashino Castle in Mikawa province. Ieyasu appealed to Nobunaga for help and the result was that Nobunaga personally came at the head of his very large army (about 30,000 strong). The Oda-Tokugawa force of 38,000 won a great victory on June 28, 1575, at the Battle of Nagashino, though Takeda Katsuyori survived the battle and retreated back to Kai Province.

For the next seven years, Ieyasu and Katsuyori fought a series of small battles. Ieyasu's troops managed to wrest control of Suruga province away from the Takeda clan.

In 1579, Ieyasu's wife, and his eldest son, Matsudaira Nobuyasu, were accused by Nobunaga of conspiring with Takeda Katsuyori to assassinate Nobunaga, whose daughter Tokuhime (1559–1636) was married to Nobuyasu. Ieyasu's wife was executed and Nobuyasu was forced to commit seppuku. Ieyasu then named his third and favorite son, Tokugawa Hidetada, as heir, since his second son was adopted by another rising power: Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the future ruler of all Japan.

The end of the war with Takeda came in 1582 when a combined Oda-Tokugawa force attacked and conquered Kai Province. Takeda Katsuyori, as well as his eldest son Takeda Nobukatsu, were defeated at the Battle of Temmokuzan and then committed seppuku.

In late 1582, Ieyasu was near Osaka and far from his own territory when he learned that Nobunaga had been assassinated by Akechi Mitsuhide. Ieyasu managed the dangerous journey back to Mikawa, avoiding Mitsuhide's troops along the way, as they were trying to find and kill him. One week after he arrived in Mikawa, Ieyasu's army marched out to take revenge on Mitsuhide. But they were too late, as Hideyoshi—on his own—defeated and killed Akechi Mitsuhide at the Battle of Yamazaki.

The death of Nobunaga meant that some provinces, ruled by Nobunaga's vassals, were ripe for conquest. The leader of Kai province made the mistake of killing one of Ieyasu's aides. Ieyasu promptly invaded Kai and took control. Hōjō Ujimasa, leader of the Hōjō clan responded by sending his much larger army into Shinano and then into Kai province. No battles were fought between Ieyasu's forces and the large Hōjō army and, after some negotiation, Ieyasu and the Hōjō agreed to a settlement which left Ieyasu in control of both Kai and Shinano provinces, while the Hōjō took control of Kazusa province (as well as bits of both Kai and Shinano province).

At the same time (1583) a war for rule over Japan was fought between Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Shibata Katsuie. Ieyasu did not take a side in this conflict, building on his reputation for both caution and wisdom. Hideyoshi defeated Katsuie at Battle of Shizugatake. With this victory, Hideyoshi became the single most powerful daimyo in Japan.

Ieyasu and Hideyoshi (1584–1598)[edit]

Hideyoshi and Ieyasu played Go on this board.

In 1584, Ieyasu decided to support Oda Nobukatsu, the eldest son and heir of Oda Nobunaga, against Hideyoshi. This was a dangerous act and could have resulted in the annihilation of the Tokugawa.

Tokugawa troops took the traditional Oda stronghold of Owari; Hideyoshi responded by sending an army into Owari. The Komaki Campaign was the only time any of the great unifiers of Japan fought each other. The campaign proved indecisive and after months of fruitless marches and feints, Hideyoshi settled the war through negotiation. First he made peace with Oda Nobukatsu, and then he offered a truce to Ieyasu. The deal was made at the end of the year; as part of the terms Ieyasu's second son, O Gi Maru, became an adopted son of Hideyoshi.

Ieyasu's aide, Ishikawa Kazumasa, chose to join the pre-eminent daimyo and so he moved to Osaka to be with Hideyoshi. However, few other Tokugawa retainers followed this example.

Hideyoshi was understandably distrustful of Ieyasu, and five years passed before they fought as allies. The Tokugawa did not participate in Hideyoshi's successful invasions of Shikoku and Kyūshū.

In 1590 Hideyoshi attacked the last independent daimyo in Japan, Hōjō Ujimasa. The Hōjō clan ruled the eight provinces of the Kantō region in eastern Japan. Hideyoshi ordered them to submit to his authority and they refused. Ieyasu, though a friend and occasional ally of Ujimasa, joined his large force of 30,000 samurai with Hideyoshi's enormous army of some 160,000. Hideyoshi attacked several castles on the borders of the Hōjō clan with most of his army laying siege to the castle at Odawara. Hideyoshi's army captured Odawara after six months (oddly for the time period, deaths on both sides were few). During this siege, Hideyoshi offered Ieyasu a radical deal. He offered Ieyasu the eight Kantō provinces which they were about to take from the Hōjō in return for the five provinces that Ieyasu currently controlled (including Ieyasu's home province of Mikawa). Ieyasu accepted this proposal. Bowing to the overwhelming power of the Toyotomi army, the Hōjō accepted defeat, the top Hōjō leaders killed themselves and Ieyasu marched in and took control of their provinces, so ending the clan's reign of over 100 years.

Ieyasu now gave up control of his five provinces (Mikawa, Tōtōmi, Suruga, Shinano, and Kai) and moved all his soldiers and vassals to the Kantō region. He himself occupied the castle town of Edo in Kantō. This was possibly the riskiest move Ieyasu ever made — to leave his home province and rely on the uncertain loyalty of the formerly Hōjō samurai in Kantō. In the event, it worked out brilliantly for Ieyasu. He reformed the Kantō provinces, controlled and pacified the Hōjō samurai and improved the underlying economic infrastructure of the lands. Also, because Kantō was somewhat isolated from the rest of Japan, Ieyasu was able to maintain a unique level of autonomy from Hideyoshi's rule. Within a few years, Ieyasu had become the second most powerful daimyo in Japan. There is a Japanese proverb which likely refers to this event: "Ieyasu won the Empire by retreating."[5]

In 1592, Hideyoshi invaded Korea as a prelude to his plan to attack China (see Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98) for more information about this campaign). The Tokugawa samurai never took part in this campaign. Early in 1593, Ieyasu was summoned to Hideyoshi's court in Nagoya (in Kyūshū, different from the similarly spelled city in Owari Province), as a military advisor. He stayed there, off and on for the next five years. Despite his frequent absences, Ieyasu's sons, loyal retainers and vassals were able to control and improve Edo and the other new Tokugawa lands.

In 1593, Hideyoshi fathered a son and heir, Toyotomi Hideyori.

In 1598, with his health clearly failing, Hideyoshi called a meeting that would determine the Council of Five Elders, who would be responsible for ruling on behalf of his son after his death. The five that were chosen as regents (tairō) for Hideyori were Maeda Toshiie, Mōri Terumoto, Ukita Hideie, Uesugi Kagekatsu, and Ieyasu himself, who was the most powerful of the five. This change in the pre-Sekigahara power structure became pivotal as Ieyasu turned his attention towards Kansai; and at the same time, other ambitious (albeit ultimately unrealized) plans, such as the Tokugawa initiative establishing official relations with Mexico and New Spain, continued to unfold and advance.[6][7]

The Sekigahara Campaign (1598–1603)[edit]

Main article: Battle of Sekigahara
The kabuto (helmet) of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Hideyoshi, after three more months of increasing sickness, died on September 18, 1598. He was nominally succeeded by his young son Hideyori but as he was just five years old, real power was in the hands of the regents. Over the next two years Ieyasu made alliances with various daimyo, especially those who had no love for Hideyoshi. Happily for Ieyasu, the oldest and most respected of the regents died after just one year. With the death of Regent Maeda Toshiie in 1599, Ieyasu led an army to Fushimi and took over Osaka Castle, the residence of Hideyori. This angered the three remaining regents and plans were made on all sides for war. It was also the last battle of one of the most loyal and powerful retainer of Ieyasu, Tadakatsu Honda .

Opposition to Ieyasu centered around Ishida Mitsunari, a powerful daimyo but not one of the regents. Mitsunari plotted Ieyasu's death and news of this plot reached some of Ieyasu's generals. They attempted to kill Mitsunari but he fled and gained protection from none other than Ieyasu himself. It is not clear why Ieyasu protected a powerful enemy from his own men but Ieyasu was a master strategist and he may have concluded that he would be better off with Mitsunari leading the enemy army rather than one of the regents, who would have more legitimacy.[8]

Nearly all of Japan's daimyo and samurai now split into two factions—The Western Army (Mitsunari's group) and The Eastern Army (anti-Mitsunari Group). Ieyasu supported the anti-Mitsunari Group, and formed them as his potential allies. Ieyasu's allies were the Date clan, the Mogami clan, the Satake clan and the Maeda clan. Mitsunari allied himself with the three other regents: Ukita Hideie, Mori Terumoto, and Uesugi Kagekatsu as well as many daimyo from the eastern end of Honshū.

In June 1600, Ieyasu and his allies moved their armies to defeat the Uesugi clan, which was accused of planning to revolt against Toyotomi administration. Before arriving at Uesugi's territory, Ieyasu had got information that Mitsunari and his allies had moved their army against Ieyasu. Ieyasu held a meeting with the daimyo, and they agreed to follow Ieyasu. He then led the majority of his army west towards Kyoto. In late summer, Ishida's forces captured Fushimi.

Ieyasu and his allies marched along the Tōkaidō, while his son Hidetada went along the Nakasendō with 38,000 soldiers. A battle against Sanada Masayuki in Shinano Province delayed Hidetada's forces, and they did not arrive in time for the main battle.

This battle was the biggest and likely the most important battle in Japanese history. It began on October 21, 1600 with a total of 160,000 men facing each other. The Battle of Sekigahara ended with a complete Tokugawa victory.[9] The Western bloc was crushed and over the next few days Ishida Mitsunari and many other western nobles were captured and killed. Tokugawa Ieyasu was now the de facto ruler of Japan.

Immediately after the victory at Sekigahara, Ieyasu redistributed land to the vassals who had served him. Ieyasu left some western daimyo unharmed, such as the Shimazu clan, but others were completely destroyed. Toyotomi Hideyori (the son of Hideyoshi) lost most of his territory which were under management of western daimyo, and he was degraded to an ordinary daimyo, not a ruler of Japan. In later years the vassals who had pledged allegiance to Ieyasu before Sekigahara became known as the fudai daimyo, while those who pledged allegiance to him after the battle (in other words, after his power was unquestioned) were known as tozama daimyo. Tozama daimyo were considered inferior to fudai daimyo.

As Shogun[edit]

Shogun Ieyasu (1603–1605)[edit]

Main article: Tokugawa Shogun
Tokugawa Ieyasu as shogun.

On March 24, 1603, Tokugawa Ieyasu received the title of shogun from Emperor Go-Yōzei.[10] Ieyasu was 60 years old. He had outlasted all the other great men of his times: Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, Shingen, Kenshin. He was the shogun and he used his remaining years to create and solidify the Tokugawa shogunate, which ushered in the Edo period, and was the third shogunal government (after the Kamakura (Minamoto) and the Ashikaga). To consolidate his rule, Ieyasu gathered his men for one last battle to eliminate the remnants of the Toyotomi clan in Osaka Castle. He succeeded at the Siege of Osaka and removed all of the possible threats to his power. He claimed descent from the Minamoto clan by way of the Nitta family. The Tokugawa Shogunate would rule Japan for the next 250 years.

Following a well established Japanese pattern, Ieyasu abdicated his official position as shogun in 1605. His successor was his son and heir, Tokugawa Hidetada. This may have been done, in part to avoid being tied up in ceremonial duties, and in part to make it harder for his enemies to attack the real power center, and in part to secure a smoother succession of his son.[11] The abdication of Ieyasu had no effect on the practical extent of his powers or his rule; but Hidetada nevertheless assumed a role as formal head of the bakufu bureaucracy.

Retired shogun (1605–1616)[edit]

Ieyasu, acting as the retired shogun (大御所 ōgosho?), remained the effective ruler of Japan until his death. Ieyasu retired to Sunpu Castle in Sunpu, but he also supervised the building of Edo Castle, a massive construction project which lasted for the rest of Ieyasu's life. The end result was the largest castle in all of Japan, the costs for building the castle being borne by all the other daimyo, while Ieyasu reaped all the benefits. The central donjon, or tenshu, burned in the 1657 Meireki fire. Today, the Imperial Palace stands on the site of the castle.

Ogosho Ieyasu also supervised diplomatic affairs with the Netherlands and Spain. He chose to distance Japan from the Europeans starting in 1609, although the bakufu did give the Dutch exclusive trading rights and permitted them to maintain a "factory" for trading purposes. From 1605 until his death, Ieyasu consulted with an English Protestant pilot in Dutch employ, William Adams,[12] who played a noteworthy role in forming and furthering the Shogunate's evolving relations with Spain and the Roman Catholic Church.[13]

In 1611, Ieyasu, at the head of 50,000 men, visited Kyoto to witness the coronation of Emperor Go-Mizunoo. In Kyoto, Ieyasu ordered the remodeling of the imperial court and buildings, and forced the remaining western daimyo to sign an oath of fealty to him. In 1613, he composed the Kuge Shohatto, a document which put the court daimyo under strict supervision, leaving them as mere ceremonial figureheads. The influences of Christianity, which was beset by quarreling over the Protestant Reformation and its aftermath, on Japan were proving problematic for Ieyasu. In 1614, he signed the Christian Expulsion Edict which banned Christianity, expelled all Christians and foreigners, and banned Christians from practicing their religion. As a result, many Kirishitans (early Japanese Christians) fled to either Portuguese Macau or the Spanish Philippines.

In 1615, he prepared the Buke Shohatto (武家諸法度), a document setting out the future of the Tokugawa regime.

Siege of Osaka[edit]

Main article: Siege of Osaka
Grave of Ieyasu in Tōshō-gū

The climax of Ieyasu's life was the siege of Osaka Castle (1614–1615). The last remaining threat to Ieyasu's rule was Toyotomi Hideyori, the son and rightful heir to Hideyoshi. He was now a young daimyo living in Osaka Castle. Many samurai who opposed Ieyasu rallied around Hideyori, claiming that he was the rightful ruler of Japan. Ieyasu found fault with the opening ceremony of a temple built by Hideyori; it was as if Hideyori prayed for Ieyasu's death and the ruin of the Tokugawa clan. Ieyasu ordered Toyotomi to leave Osaka Castle, but those in the castle refused and summoned samurai to gather within castle. Then the Tokugawa, with a huge army led by Ogosho Ieyasu and Shogun Hidetada, laid siege to Osaka castle in what is now known as "the Winter Siege of Osaka". Eventually, Tokugawa was able to precipitate negotiations and an armistice after directed cannon fire threatened Hideyori's mother, Yodo-dono. However, once the treaty was agreed, Tokugawa filled Osaka Castle's outer moats with sand so his troops could walk across. Through this ploy, Tokugawa gained a huge tract of land through negotiation and deception that he could not through siege and combat. Ieyasu returned to Sunpu Castle once, but after Toyotomi refused another order to leave Osaka, he and his allied army of 155,000 soldiers attacked Osaka Castle again in "the Summer Siege of Osaka". Finally in late 1615, Osaka Castle fell and nearly all the defenders were killed including Hideyori, his mother (Hideyoshi's widow, Yodogimi), and his infant son. His wife, Senhime (a granddaughter of Ieyasu), was sent back to Tokugawa alive. With the Toyotomi line finally extinguished, no threats remained to the Tokugawa clan's domination of Japan.

Death[edit]

The tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu in Nikkō Tōshō-gū.

In 1616, Ieyasu died at age 73.[3] The cause of death is thought to have been cancer or syphilis. The first Tokugawa shogun was posthumously deified with the name Tōshō Daigongen (東照大権現), the "Great Gongen, Light of the East". (A Gongen (the prefix Dai- meaning great) is believed to be a buddha who has appeared on Earth in the shape of a kami to save sentient beings). In life, Ieyasu had expressed the wish to be deified after his death in order to protect his descendants from evil. His remains were buried at the Gongens' mausoleum at Kunōzan, Kunōzan Tōshō-gū (久能山東照宮). As a common view, many people believe that "after the first anniversary of his death, his remains were reburied at Nikkō Shrine, Nikkō Tōshō-gū (日光東照宮). His remains are still there.", but his real remains are still at Kunōzan. The mausoleum's architectural style became known as gongen-zukuri, that is gongen-style.[14]

Ieyasu as a person[edit]

Handprint of Ieyasu at Kunozan Toshogu
Precepts on the secret of success in life drafted by Tokugawa Ieyasu from the collection of Nikkō Tōshō-gū.

Ieyasu had a number of qualities that enabled him to rise to power. He was both careful and bold—at the right times, and at the right places. Calculating and subtle, Ieyasu switched alliances when he thought he would benefit from the change. He allied with the Late Hōjō clan; then he joined Hideyoshi's army of conquest, which destroyed the Hōjō; and he himself took over their lands. In this he was like other daimyo of his time. This was an era of violence, sudden death, and betrayal. He was not very well liked nor personally popular, but he was feared and he was respected for his leadership and his cunning. For example, he wisely kept his soldiers out of Hideyoshi's campaign in Korea.

He was capable of great loyalty: once he allied with Oda Nobunaga, he never went against him, and both leaders profited from their long alliance. He was known for being loyal towards his personal friends and vassals, whom he rewarded, He was said to have a close friendship with his vassal Hattori Hanzo. However, he also remembered those who had wronged him in the past. It is said that Ieyasu executed a man who came into his power because he had insulted him when Ieyasu was young.

Ieyasu protected many former Takeda retainers from the wrath of Oda Nobunaga, who was known to harbor a bitter grudge towards the Takeda. He managed to successfully transform many of the retainers of the Takeda, Hōjō, and Imagawa clans—all whom he had defeated himself or helped to defeat—into loyal followers.

He had nineteen wives and concubines, by whom he had eleven sons and five daughters. The eleven sons of Ieyasu were:

(In this listing, the two sons without surnames died before adulthood.)

His daughters were Kame hime (亀姫), Toku hime (督姫), Furi hime (振姫), Matsu hime (松姫) and Ichi hime (市姫). He is said to have cared for his children and grandchildren, establishing three of them, Yorinobu, Yoshinao, and Yorifusa as the daimyos of Kii, Owari, and Mito provinces, respectively.[15] At the same time, he could be ruthless when crossed. For example, he ordered the executions of his first wife and his eldest son—a son-in-law of Oda Nobunaga; Oda was also an uncle of Hidetada's wife Oeyo.

After Hidetada became shogun, he married Oeyo of the Oda clan and they had two sons, Tokugawa Iemitsu and Tokugawa Tadanaga. They also had two daughters, one of whom, Sen hime, married twice. The other daughter, Kazuko hime, married Emperor Go-Mizunoo of descent from the Fujiwara clan.

Ieyasu's favorite pastime was falconry. He regarded it as excellent training for a warrior. "When you go into the country hawking, you learn to understand the military spirit and also the hard life of the lower classes. You exercise your muscles and train your limbs. You have any amount of walking and running and become quite indifferent to heat and cold, and so you are little likely to suffer from any illness.".[16] Ieyasu swam often; even late in his life he is reported to have swum in the moat of Edo Castle.

Later in life he took to scholarship and religion, patronizing scholars like Hayashi Razan.[17]

Two of his famous quotes:

Life is like unto a long journey with a heavy burden. Let thy step be slow and steady, that thou stumble not. Persuade thyself that imperfection and inconvenience are the lot of natural mortals, and there will be no room for discontent, neither for despair. When ambitious desires arise in thy heart, recall the days of extremity thou hast passed through. Forbearance is the root of all quietness and assurance forever. Look upon the wrath of thy enemy. If thou only knowest what it is to conquer, and knowest not what it is to be defeated; woe unto thee, it will fare ill with thee. Find fault with thyself rather than with others.[18]

The strong manly ones in life are those who understand the meaning of the word patience. Patience means restraining one's inclinations. There are seven emotions: joy, anger, anxiety, adoration, grief, fear, and hate, and if a man does not give way to these he can be called patient. I am not as strong as I might be, but I have long known and practiced patience. And if my descendants wish to be as I am, they must study patience.[19][20]

He claimed that he fought, as a warrior or a general, in 90 battles.

He was interested in various kenjutsu skills, was a patron of the Yagyū Shinkage-ryū school, and also had them as his personal sword instructors.

Ieyasu in popular culture[edit]

See People of the Sengoku period in popular culture

Myths and theories[edit]

Due to Ieyasu's unique characteristics, there are a few legends and theories surrounding his actions that are popular in fiction.

Ieyasu planned Honnōji?[edit]

Among the many conspiracies surrounding the Honnō-ji Incident is Ieyasu's role in the event. Historically, Ieyasu was away from his lord at the time and, when he heard that Nobunaga was in danger, he wanted to rush to his lord's rescue in spite of the small number of attendants with him. However, Tadakatsu advised for his lord to avoid the risk and urged for a quick retreat to Mikawa. Masanari led the way through Iga and they returned home by boat.

However, skeptics think otherwise. While they usually accept the historically known facts about Ieyasu's actions during Mitsuhide's betrayal, theorists tend to pay more attention to the events before. Ever since Ieyasu lost his wife and son due to Nobunaga's orders, they reason, he held a secret resentment against his lord. Generally, there is some belief that he privately goaded Mitsuhide to take action when the two warlords were together in Azuchi Castle. Together, they planned when to attack and went their separate ways. When the deed was done, Ieyasu turned a blind eye to Mitsuhide's schemes and fled the scene to feign innocence. A variation of the concept states that Ieyasu was well aware of Mitsuhide's feelings regarding Nobunaga and simply chose to do nothing for his own benefit.

Like all the theories and conspiracies surrounding Honnōji, it's unknown if any of these ideas are true.

Ieyasu had an impostor?[edit]

The Tokugawa Ieyasu's Kagemusha Legend (徳川家康の影武者説) is a myth that has been circulating since the Edo period. It is believed to have arisen due to historical records of Ieyasu's "sudden change of behavior" with some of his closet colleagues. The idea was made more popular in modern times by the historians, Tokutomi Sohō and Yasutsugu Shigeno.

The general outline of the legend is that after the Battle of Okehazama, Motoyasu (Ieyasu) was ready to face the world as a changed man. According to Hayashi Razan, the last line was meant quite literally. Before Motoyasu could make his new face known to the world, he was replaced by a completely different man named Sarata Jiro Saburo Motonobu (Sakai Jōkei). Variations include that the switch actually occurred much earlier in Motoyasu's life when he was being a hostage. Motonobu went in Motoyasu's stead and was considered a more suitable "heir". After Motonobu replaced him, Motoyasu fled and lived a hermit's life. Another version states that Ieyasu was actually killed during the Battle of Sekigahara or the Osaka Campaign. When he was killed by Sanada Yukimura during the latter conflict, it is said that he was replaced by Ogasawara Hidemasa who became the "Ieyasu" from then on.

While prevalent in fiction, historians are unsure whether or not the myth holds any merit. His dubious personality traits during these specific time frames have been mostly blamed on stress and personal strain.

Era of Ieyasu's rule[edit]

Ieyasu ruled directly as shogun or indirectly as Ōgosho (大御所) during the Keichō era (1596–1615).

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Iyeyasu". Encyclopedia.com. 
  2. ^ "Iyeyasu". Merriam-Webster. 
  3. ^ a b c d Screech, Timon (2006). Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779–1822. London: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 0-7007-1720-X, pp. 85, 234; n.b., Screech explains

    Minamoto-no-Ieyasu was born in Tenbun 11, on the 26th day of the 12th month (1542) and he died in Genna 2, on the 17th day of the 4th month (1616); and thus, his contemporaries would have said that he lived 75 years. In this period, children were considered one year old at birth and became two the following New Year's Day; and all people advanced a year that day, not on their actual birthday.

  4. ^ Screech, Timon (2006). Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779–1822. London: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 0-7007-1720-X, p. 82.
  5. ^ Sadler, p. 164.
  6. ^ Nutall, Zelia. (1906). The Earliest Historical Relations Between Mexico and Japan, p. 2
  7. ^ "Japan to Decorate King Alfonso Today; Emperor's Brother Nears Madrid With Collar of the Chrysanthemum for Spanish King". The New York Times, November 3, 1930, p. 6.
  8. ^ Sadler, p. 187
  9. ^ Titsingh, Isaac (1834). [Siyun-sai Rin-siyo/Hayashi Gahō, 1652], Nipon o daï itsi ran; ou, Annales des empereurs du Japon. Paris: Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland, p. 405.
  10. ^ Titsingh, Isaac (1822). Illustrations of Japan. London: Ackerman, p. 409.
  11. ^ Van Wolferen, Karel (1990). The Enigma of Japanese Power: People and Politics in a Stateless Nation. New York: Vintage Books. p. 28. ISBN 0-679-72802-3. 
  12. ^ Milton, Giles. Samurai William: The Englishman Who Opened Japan. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003.
  13. ^ Nutail, Zelia (1906). The Earliest Historical Relations Between Mexico and Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 6–45.
  14. ^ JAANUS / Gongen-zukuri 権現造
  15. ^ On the subject, see the article Gosanke.
  16. ^ Sadler, p. 344.
  17. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1956). Kyoto: the Old Capital of Japan, 794–1969, p. 418.
  18. ^ OldTokyo.com: Tōshō-gū Shrine; American Forum for Global Education, JapanProject; retrieved 2012-11-1.
  19. ^ Storry, Richard. (1982). A History of Modern Japan, p. 60
  20. ^ Thomas, J. E. (1996). Modern Japan: a social history since 1868, ISBN 0582259614, p. 4.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Sadler, A. L. (1937). The Maker of Modern Japan. 

Further reading[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Sengoku period
Tokugawa Shogun:
Tokugawa Ieyasu

1603–1605
Succeeded by
Tokugawa Hidetada