|6th Edo Shogun|
|Preceded by||Tokugawa Tsunayoshi|
|Succeeded by||Tokugawa Ietsugu|
|Born||11 June 1662|
|Died||12 November 1712(aged 50)|
|Relations||Tokugawa Tsunashige (dad)
Tokugawa Ienobu (徳川 家宣) (June 11, 1662 – November 12, 1712) was the sixth shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty of Japan. He was the eldest son of Tokugawa Tsunashige, thus making him the nephew of Tokugawa Ietsuna and Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, the grandson of Tokugawa Iemitsu, the great-grandson of Tokugawa Hidetada, and the great-great grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Early life (1662-1694)
Tokugawa Ienobu was born as the youngest son of Tokugawa Tsunashige, daimyo of Kofu, in 1662. His mother was a concubine. Tsunashige was the middle brother of Tokugawa Ietsuna and Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, thus making Ienobu their nephew. In 1662, Ienobu's uncle, Ietsuna was shogun, and his father, Tsunashige, was daimyo of Kofu, a very valuable piece of land to the Tokugawa.
Not much is known of Ienobu's early life except that he was expected to become the next daimyo of Kofu after the death of his father. However, after Tokugawa Ietsuna had died in 1680, and his other uncle, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi succeeded the bakufu, Tsunayoshi's failure to preduce a male heir made the chances of Ienobu much higher to become shogun. Nonetheless, for the time being, Ienobu was not being groomed to succeed to the shogunate but rather to succeed his father Tsunashige as daimyo of Kofu.
Finally, in 1678 Tokugawa Tsunashige died. Thus, Tokugawa Ienobu succeeded him as daimyo of Kofu. He became very powerful there, since his uncle was the shogun.
In 1694, a ronin, Arai Hakuseki, was appointed as personal tutor and advisor to Ienobu. Hakuseki used to be a teacher in Edo, but was recommended by the philosopher Kinoshita Junan to become personal tutor to Ienobu and was summoned to Ienobu's Edo residence. Until 1709, when Ienobu became shogun, it is thought that Hakuseki gave him 2000 lectures on the Chinese classics and Confucianism. Hakuseki became a great advisor to Ienobu until the end of his life.
It was also great training for Ienobu, since even Shogun Tsunayoshi was a great patron of the Chinese classics and of Neo-Confucianism. Hakuseki also wrote a book for Ienobu, known as the Hankampu covering the history of various fiefs from 1600 until 1680.
Shogun Ienobu (1709-1712)
In 1709, Shogun Tsunayoshi died without a male heir. In genealogical terms, it would have appeared reasonable for the daimyo of Kofu, Tokugawa Ienobu, to be elevated to the role of shogun because he was the only remaining direct lineal descendant of Tokugawa Ieyasu. However, this was a secondary factor in the context of intra-bakufu politics which were carried over from the last days of the Tsunayoshi bakufu. The ultimate resolution of any questions about shogunal succession were probably influenced most effectively by the fact that Ienobu was the expressed preference of the late Shogun Tsunayoshi's wife.
Shogun Ienobu immediately began to reform certain elements of Japanese society. It is often said that he transformed the bakufu from a military to a civilian institution, which was already in the making during the rule of Ietsuna and Tsunayoshi. He started off by abolishing the controversial laws and edicts of Tsunayoshi. The chamberlains, who were given strict power by Tsunayoshi, had all power withdrawn from their hands. Also, in 1710, Shogun Ienobu revised the Buke-Sho-Hatto, where language was improved. Also censorship was discontinued, and Ienobu told his subordinates that the thoughts and feelings of the populace should reach the high levels of the bakufu. This is thought to be Hakuseki's influence. Cruel punishments and persecutions were discontinued, and the judicial system was also reformed.
However there was one remnant of Shogun Tsunayoshi's rule which was not done away with. Neo-Confucianism was still popular and patronized, also thanks to Hakuseki's influence, since he had long lectured Ienobu on the Confucian classics. Economic reform also was ensured, and the gold coin was created to stabilize the economy.
Shogun Ienobu was one of the first shoguns in centuries to actually try to significantly improve relations with the emperor and court in Kyoto. In 1711, the Fujiwara regent, Konoe Motohiro, arrived in Edo from Kyoto to be the mediator for talks between Shogun Ienobu and Emperor Nakamikado and his nobles (in Kyoto). Ienobu took the lead, but Motohiro also appears to have asserted himself. After the talks were over, it was decided that younger sons of emperors do not have to enter priesthood and can form new branches of the imperial throne and that their daughters can marry (in fact, one of the younger daughters of Emperor Nakamikado married one of Shogun Ienobu's younger sons) and that the bakufu would offer financial grants to the court. Many court ceremonies were also revived. Thus, during the rule of Shogun Ienobu, relations with the court were fairly good.
Shogun Ienobu died at the age of 51 in Shōtoku 2, on the 14th day of the 10th month (1712). He was succeeded by his infant son, Tokugawa Ietsugu. The successor was not the son who had married an imperial princess - that was a younger son. Ietsugu became the seventh shogun. He continued to employ Hakuseki as his advisor.
Eras of Ienobu's bakufu
- Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, p.415
- Screech, T. (2006). Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779-1822, pp. 95-97.
- Screech, Timon. (2006). Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779-1822. London: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 0-7007-1720-X
- Titsingh, Isaac. (1822). Illustrations of Japan. London: Ackerman.
- 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. ...Click link for digitized, full-text copy of this book (in French)
- Totman, Conrad. (1967). Politics in the Tokugawa bakufu, 1600-1843. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
- National Diet Library: photograph of Gate to Tomb of the Sixth Shogun of Tokugawa Family; Shiba, Tokyo (1901)
- National Archives of Japan: Ryukyu Chuzano ryoshisha tojogyoretsu, scroll illustrating procession of Ryukyu emissary to Edo, Hōei 7 (1710)
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