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Old September 30th, 2011, 04:58 AM   #1

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Was Tokugawa nothing but a traitor?


Ieyasu Tokugawa is highly revered, but his alliance with Nobunaga after Nobunaga killed his master, his takeover of Osaka Castle and the murder of Hideyori would indicate he betrayed his allies to gain power. Thoughts?
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Old September 30th, 2011, 05:17 AM   #2

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By the strictest definition of the word, he was a traitor, but he wasn't doing anything more than anyone else was doing at the time.

The first act you mention, Nobunaga killing his master, by which I assume you mean Imagawa Yoshimoto - don't forget that Ieyasu had been held as a hostage by the Imagawa since childhood, and the circumstances under which he had allied with them was not entirely of his own making. He probably felt that he had no need to honour an alliance made under duress.

As for Osaka, by the time of the Osaka campaign, it was Hideyori who was the rebel. Ieyasu had been declared Shogun in 1603 (although he had retired by Osaka), and Hideyori was gathering ronin in Osaka castle in what was essentially an open act of defiance. Ieyasu was within his rights to put down the rebellion.

It was far from an act of murder. After all, Hideyori had twice defied the authority of the Shogunate.

Hideyori's father, Hideyoshi, was no better. He didn't exactly support his erstwhile master's clan after Nobunaga was assassinated, but took the opportunity to make his own bid for power.
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Old September 30th, 2011, 05:32 AM   #3

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I just consider him an oppurtunist, something quite common during the Sengoju Period
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Old September 30th, 2011, 04:06 PM   #4

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Originally Posted by Naomasa298 View Post
By the strictest definition of the word, he was a traitor, but he wasn't doing anything more than anyone else was doing at the time.

The first act you mention, Nobunaga killing his master, by which I assume you mean Imagawa Yoshimoto - don't forget that Ieyasu had been held as a hostage by the Imagawa since childhood, and the circumstances under which he had allied with them was not entirely of his own making. He probably felt that he had no need to honour an alliance made under duress.

As for Osaka, by the time of the Osaka campaign, it was Hideyori who was the rebel. Ieyasu had been declared Shogun in 1603 (although he had retired by Osaka), and Hideyori was gathering ronin in Osaka castle in what was essentially an open act of defiance. Ieyasu was within his rights to put down the rebellion.

It was far from an act of murder. After all, Hideyori had twice defied the authority of the Shogunate.

Hideyori's father, Hideyoshi, was no better. He didn't exactly support his erstwhile master's clan after Nobunaga was assassinated, but took the opportunity to make his own bid for power.
He was a hostage, but wasn't that something that was done as a type of insurance of maintaining loyalty from his family? I mean, they treated him well, teaching him to become a samurai and giving him the privileges of a family member.

Tokugawa had made a promise to Hideyoshi, his ally, to care for Hideyori until he could take over. It was not a good pact, I admit, but Tokugawa did give his word. Hideyori knew he would never be allowed to rule, even though he was the rightful heir, so he started making himself stronger. Still, I understand he initial attack on Osaka Castle. But, what I question is filling in the moats after the cease fire. Both sides had agreed not to fight any more, but Tokugawa used the opportunity to weaken the castle so his samurai could overtake it. It sounds like murder to me...
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Old September 30th, 2011, 04:15 PM   #5

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He was a hostage, but wasn't that something that was done as a type of insurance of maintaining loyalty from his family? I mean, they treated him well, teaching him to become a samurai and giving him the privileges of a family member.

Tokugawa had made a promise to Hideyoshi, his ally, to care for Hideyori until he could take over. It was not a good pact, I admit, but Tokugawa did give his word. Hideyori knew he would never be allowed to rule, even though he was the rightful heir, so he started making himself stronger. Still, I understand he initial attack on Osaka Castle. But, what I question is filling in the moats after the cease fire. Both sides had agreed not to fight any more, but Tokugawa used the opportunity to weaken the castle so his samurai could overtake it. It sounds like murder to me...
Like Naomasa said, he acted no differently than any other warlord would have in similar circumstances (with a few exceptions, like Tachibana Muneshige). Takeda Shingen deposed his own father. Uesegi Kenshin betrayed his brother. Nobunaga rebelled against the Ashikaga. Etc. etc.

The Hideyoshi clan would have been a constant threat to Tokugawa dominance. Any "peace treaty" was a sham, and Hideyori/his advisors should have known that.

Ieyasu's execution of his own grandson after the siege is a little bit disturbing, though
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Old September 30th, 2011, 04:20 PM   #6

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Originally Posted by Rasputin1234 View Post
Like Naomasa said, he acted no differently than any other warlord would have in similar circumstances (with a few exceptions, like Tachibana Muneshige). Takeda Shingen deposed his own father. Uesegi Kenshin betrayed his brother. Nobunaga rebelled against the Ashikaga. Etc. etc.

The Hideyoshi clan would have been a constant threat to Tokugawa dominance. Any "peace treaty" was a sham, and Hideyori/his advisors should have known that.

Ieyasu's execution of his own grandson after the siege is a little bit disturbing, though
It sounds like you're both saying that it was a dog eat dog scene, so it was fine for him to do those things. Perhaps the honorable act would have been to allow Hideyori to take over like he promised. This would not have been good for Tokugawa personally, but it would have been better for Japan overall, and it would have enabled Tokugawa to keep his honor.
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Old September 30th, 2011, 04:35 PM   #7

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It sounds like you're both saying that it was a dog eat dog scene, so it was fine for him to do those things. Perhaps the honorable act would have been to allow Hideyori to take over like he promised. This would not have been good for Tokugawa personally, but it would have been better for Japan overall, and it would have enabled Tokugawa to keep his honor.
No Daimyo really thought that way, though. Power tastes better than honor
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Old September 30th, 2011, 05:02 PM   #8

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First things first, let me clear something up. Kunimatsu, Hideyori's son, was not Tokugawa Ieyasu's great-grandson. Although Ieyasu's daughter, Senhime was married to Hideyori, she was only 19 (18 by Western reckoning, I think) by the time Osaka castle fell, and Kunimatsu was 8 (i.e. 7 by Western reckoning), so she would have had to have given birth at the age of 11 (10). Equally, Hideyori was only 22, so he was 14 when he became a father. Hideyori certainly had more than one wife/concubine.

He was, though, Ieyasu's great-grandnephew through Oeyo, one of Asai Nagamasa's daughters, who married Tokugawa Hidetada and was the sister of Lady Yodo. Now, if that's all clear...

Regarding Ieyasu's being kept hostage - yes, it was to ensure the loyalty of the Matsudaira family, and he was treated well, but a bird in a gilded cage is still a prisoner. Ieyasu was much too talented a man to be kept in submission to someone like Imagawa Yoshimoto. Loyalty secured at the point of a sword is not one that Ieyasu probably felt he needed to honour. The Imagawa still held his wife and son hostage.

Now, with regard to the filling in of the moats, I will again remind you that Ieyasu was now the legitimate ruler of Japan. His position as Shogun was ratified by the Emperor. If Hideyori had not intended to rebel, the filling in of the moats shouldn't have been a problem, but instead, he gathered a large army of ronin at Osaka for a second time. Of course, the reality is that while Hideyori remained alive, he was a figurehead around whom enemies of the Tokugawa could rally, and that situation couldn't continue. But Hideyori made things far worse than they could have been by listening to his mother, Lady Yodo. Regardless of the promises made to the late Hideyoshi, Ieyasu ruled by the authority of the Emperor, just as Hideyoshi had with a different title.

Hideyoshi was certainly under no illusions about Ieyasu, which is one of the reasons he appointed five elders to care for his son. Unfortunately for him, Ishida Mitsunari managed to ruin the plan by antagonising just about everyone, and driving enough followers into the Tokugawa camp.

By the standards of the Sengoku, Ieyasu was no worse, and considerably better than many of his contemporaries. Had he not done what he did, he would have almost certainly found himself the one under seige, as the most likely credible alternative to Toyotomi rule. He and Hideyoshi could have settled it on the battlefield, but chose to make peace instead. Both Hideyoshi and Ieyasu knew that the younger man was just biding his time.

Would it have been better to let Hideyori take over? I don't think so. Hideyori was too weak and indecisive as an adult, and was too heavily influenced by his mother. A weak ruler under whom the country would have risked descending into another period of internal strife. Hideyori wouldn't have been the ruler - Yodogimi would have been.

Last edited by Naomasa298; September 30th, 2011 at 05:56 PM.
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Old September 30th, 2011, 05:44 PM   #9

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Originally Posted by Naomasa298 View Post
First things first, let me clear something up. Kunimatsu, Hideyori's son, was not Tokugawa Ieyasu's great-grandson. Although Ieyasu's daughter, Senhime was married to Hideyori, she was only 19 by the time Osaka castle fell, and Kunimatsu was 8, so she would have had to have given birth at the age of 11. Equally, Hideyori was only 22, so he was 14 when he became a father. Hideyori certainly had more than one wife/concubine.

He was, though, Ieyasu's great-grandnephew through Oeyo, one of Asai Nagamasa's daughters, who married Tokugawa Hidetada and was the sister of Lady Yodo. Now, if that's all clear...
Learn something every day, I guess.

Honestly, I think all this talk about who was in the "right" back then is kind of silly. How can we judge these figures who lived in a world we wouldn't recognize? Yes, Ieyasu swore oaths to Hideyoshi, and then broke those oaths. But Hideyoshi was himself a tyrant by the time he died, publicly executing women and children in a ghastly spectacle and ravaging neighboring countries for petty slights to his honor.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 02:54 AM   #10

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Minor correction to what I posted - Senhime was Ieyasu granddaughter, not his daughter.
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