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Nobutaka was born as the third son of Oda Nobunaga and he was called San Shichi (三七) from possibly being born on March 7 on old Japanese calendar system. His mother is a concubine Sakashi (坂氏). A theory has it that Nobutaka was actually born twenty days earlier than Nobunaga's second son Oda Nobukatsu but it was reported later than Nobukatsu's birth to Nobunaga and thus was acknowledged as the third son. According to this theory, it is also believed that the low status of his mother's parents had played a factor as well.
On 1568, after Nobunaga controlled Ise Province, Nobutaka was installed by the victorious Nobunaga to take over the head of Kanbe clan, whose seat was Kanbe Castle near present-day Suzuka, Mie. His elder brother, Nobukatsu on the next year became an adopted member of Kitabatake clan ruling much larger area of southern Ise Province. Nobutaka was reported by missionaries to have a better character than the older Nobukatsu but was ranked lower and held less area than he did.
On 1582, Nobutaka was commanded to lead an army against Shikoku and had such retainers as Niwa Nagahide and Tsuda Nobusumi, who was the son of Nobunaga's younger brother Nobuyuki, under his command. But while readying his army at Sakai to cross the sea, Nobunaga was killed at Honnō-ji by Akechi Mitsuhide. Nobutaka turned back and at Osaka, killed Nobusumi who was married to a daughter of Mitsuhide and had his father, Oda Nobuyuki killed. While Nobutaka's suspicion did make some sense, no evidence had turned up that would connect Nobusumi to Mitsuhide. At Tomida of Settsu Province, Nobutaka joined Hashiba Hideyoshi who had turned back as well and fought at battle of Yamazaki.
Yet despite having been present to avenge for his father, at the meeting to determine the next and future head of Oda clan in Kiyosu Castle, Nobutaka was left out of the discussion and Sanpōshi became the head of clan. He gained Mino Province where the eldest son, Oda Nobutada had ruled before his death by Mitsuhide, but this was still far short of what he had hoped for. He later allied with Shibata Katsuie and Takigawa Kazumasu to start a war against Hideyoshi, but while Nobutaka was surrounded at Gifu Castle by Nobukatsu, Katsuie lost at battle of Shizugatake and Nobutaka surrendered.
Nobutaka was sent to Daimidoji at Noma, Chitano county, Owari Province where Minamoto no Yoshitomo had been assassinated at the end of Heian period. Under the pressure from Hideyoshi and Nobukatsu, he committed suicide. Two dates, June 19 and June 21 are given for his death.
His waka composed before dying was as follows.
- Mukashi yori Aruji o Utsu Mi no Noma nareba
- Mukui o Mateya Hashiba Chikuzen
It is a vengeful poetry that would be translated as, You had killed the one you had served, may kami strike you down, Hashiba Hideyoshi.
- Father: Oda Nobunaga (1536-1582)