Oda Nobunaga

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Oda Nobunaga : biography

June 23, 1534 – June 21, 1582

A few months later, Nobuyuki, with the support of Shibata Katsuie and Hayashi Hidesada, rebelled against Nobunaga. The three conspirators were defeated at the Battle of Inō, but they were pardoned after the intervention of Tsuchida Gozen, the birth mother of both Nobunaga and Nobuyuki. The next year, however, Nobuyuki again planned to rebel. When Nobunaga was informed of this by Shibata Katsuie, he faked illness to get close to Nobuyuki and assassinated him in Kiyosu Castle.

By 1559, Nobunaga had eliminated all opposition within the clan and throughout Owari Province. He continued to use Shiba Yoshikane as an excuse to make peace with other daimyo, although it was later discovered that Yoshikane had secretly corresponded with the Kira and Imagawa clans, trying to oust Nobunaga and restore the Shiba clan’s place. Nobunaga eventually cast him out, making alliances created in the Shiba clan’s name void.

Battle of Okehazama

In 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto gathered an army of 25,000 menTakeuchi, Rizō. (1985). Nihonshi shōjiten, p. 233. and started his march toward Kyoto, with the excuse of aiding the frail Ashikaga shogunate. The Matsudaira clan of Mikawa Province was also to join Yoshimoto’s forces. In comparison, the Oda clan could rally an army of only 3,000,Weston, Mark. "Oda Nobunaga: The Warrior Who United Half of Japan." Giants of Japan: The Lives of Japan’s Greatest Men and Women. New York: Kodansha International, 2002. 140-45. Print. and the forces would also have to be split up to defend various forts at the border. Under such circumstances, Nobunaga was said to have performed his favorite Atsumori dance at Kiyosu Castle, before riding off with only a few attendants to pray. Due to the forces unbalance the night before, Shibata Katsuie had tried in vain to change Oda Nobunaga’s mind about a frontal attack; he kept reminding Nobunaga of the joint army’s complete lack of manpower compared to Imagawa’s numerous soldiers. Hayashi Sado no Kami Hidesada, the remaining advisor from Nobuhide’s days, even argued for surrender without fighting, using the same reasoning as Katsuie.

Nobunaga’s scouts reported that Yoshimoto were resting at Dengaku-hazama which was a narrow gorge, an ideal place for a surprise attack. The scouts added that the Imagawa army were celebrating their victories while Yoshimoto viewed the heads. Nobunaga moved up towards Imagawa’s camp, and set up a position some distance away. An array of flags and dummy troops made of straw and spare helmets gave the impression of a large host, while the real Oda army hurried round in a rapid march to get behind Yoshimoto’s camp. The heat gave way to a terrific thunderstorm. As the Imagawa samurai sheltered from the rain Nobunaga deployed his troops, and when the storm ceased they charged down upon the enemy in the gorge. So sudden was the attack that Yoshimoto thought a brawl had broken out among his men. He realized it was an attack when two samurai charged up. One aimed a spear at him, which Yoshimoto deflected with his sword, but the second swung his blade and cut off Imagawa’s head.

Rapidly weakening, the Imagawa clan no longer exerted control over the Matsudaira clan. In 1561, an alliance was forged between Oda Nobunaga and Matsudaira Motoyasu (who would become Tokugawa Ieyasu), despite the decades-old hostility between the two clans. Tradition dates this battle as the time that Nobunaga first noticed the talents of the sandal bearer who would eventually become Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Tenka Fubu

Statue of Oda Nobunaga at [[Kiyosu Castle]]

In Mino, Saitō Yoshitatsu died suddenly of illness in 1561, and was succeeded by his son, Saitō Tatsuoki. Tatsuoki, however, was young and much less effective as a ruler and military strategist compared to his father and grandfather. Taking advantage of this situation, Nobunaga moved his base to Komaki Castle and started his campaign in Mino. By convincing Saitō retainers to abandon their incompetent and foolish master, Nobunaga weakened the Saitō clan significantly, eventually mounting a final attack in 1567. Nobunaga captured Inabayama Castle and sent Tatsuoki into exile.