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Oda Nobunaga: Fool of Owari (2)

Posted August 20th, 2017 at 12:48 PM by Lord Oda Nobunaga
Updated October 20th, 2017 at 10:55 AM by Lord Oda Nobunaga

The Fool of Owari

Oda Nobunaga, now aged about 18, had inherited a relatively strong clan but also a tenuous hold now that his strong father had died, especially with the ever growing threat of the Imagawa clan in the east, an unstable peace with the Kiyosu Oda and a potentially unreliable if not treacherous ally in the Saito clan. So too were there potential enemies within the Oda branch of the deceased Danjo no Jo. At the Bansho temple, which had been built by Nobuhide, a large funeral service was held where there had gathered 300 monks together with all of the attendants. Lord Nobunaga, now acting as the clan head, finally arrived and accompanied by his advisers Hayashi Hidesada, Hirate Masahide, Aoyama Yosoemon and Naito Shosuke. He wore his large sword and his dagger around his waist on a rope, his clothing was informal and his hair was tied up as he usually had it. Nobunaga's younger brother Oda Nobuyuki was also in attendance, dressed formally and with impeccable manners, together with his retainers: Shibata Katsuie, Sakuma Morishige, and Sakuma Jiemon among others. When the time came for Nobunaga to place incense near the funeral tablet he instead grabbed a handful of incense powder, threw it at the altar and stormed out of the temple. For this reason, Nobunaga maintained his reputation as the Fool of Owari and began to be looked down upon by his own subordinates. The beginning of his rule had been at a glance, disastrous.

Among his first acts as head of the Oda clan, he would grant his father's Suemori castle to his brother Nobuyuki. He had also decided to call himself governor and use the title "Kazusa no Suke" which was a title reserved only for a prince of the Imperial family. Hirate Masahide considered these actions foolish and in protest committed seppuku hoping that this would make Nobunaga change his ways. As far as Nobunaga and everyone else was concerned Masahide's sacrifice made no difference.

Having barely any respite since the death of his father a great disturbance occurred in Owari province. The castellan of Narumi, a man called Yamaguchi Sama no Suke and his son Noriyoshi, rebelled against Oda Nobunaga and sought the aid of the Imagawa clan. On the 17th day of the fourth month in 1552, the Imagawa sent troops to reinforce Yamaguchi and having placed his son Noriyoshi in command there Yamaguchi with his troops then built fortifications at Kasadera where he put the five Imagawa captains and their soldiers. Yamaguchi Sama no Suke then marched with his troops to the small town of Nakamura which he fortified and entrenched himself there.

But having already been informed of the situation Lord Nobunaga, being only 18 years old, had already made his move. He advanced along the village of Nakane as far as Konarumi deployed his 800 troops upon the hill of San no Yama. His adversary Yamaguchi Noriyoshi, who was 19 years old, moved rapidly 1,500 men to the place called Akatsuka, some 1,600 meters east of where Nobunaga had positioned himself and about equal distance from the castle of Narumi. But being able to observe the maneuvers of Noriyoshi from on top of San no Yama, Nobunaga ordered his vanguard of light infantry to march towards Akatsuka. There the two vanguards clashed early that morning and when they came within distance both sides let loose a hail of arrows. From 10 in the morning until noon, the battle raged on at Akatsuka. A troop captain of the Oda clan fell and soldiers on both sides could be seen fighting for his body, which the Oda men eventually retrieved together with his sword. During the clash both sides attacked each other then pulled back, only to close the gap and engage each other again. When the Oda men began to pull back they would adopt a defensive position with one knee bent and their spears aimed upwards. The renegades of Narumi fought with their spears raised above the Oda troops and the fighting was so close and fierce that they did not stop to take heads. Even men on horseback dismounted in order to support their line. Since the combatants were familiar with each other no one let down their guard that day. When the fighting was over and the Narumi rebels withdrew the negotiations were held. Nobunaga lost only 30 soldiers in that battle. Many within the Narumi force were killed or captured and as such prisoners and horses were exchanged. With his castle at Narumi in peril Yamaguchi Sama no Suke was forced to halt his movements and now being unable to continue his actions against the Oda clan Nobunaga chose to end his operations on that same day.

On the 15th of the eighth month of 1552, the Kiyosu Oda and their retainers Sakai Daizen, Sakai Jinsuke, Kawajiri Yoichi and Oda Sanmi conspired against the province of Owari at large. They rode into Matsuba castle and took hostages from Oda Iga no Kami and then did the same to Oda Michiyori of Fukata castle. In so doing they effectively controlled Fukata castle and Matsuba castle and used this as their chance to challenge Oda Nobunaga's power. But again Oda Nobunaga was quickly informed of the matter and took action. On the 16th of the eighth month at dawn, he marched out of his castle in Nagoya with his forces as far as the bank of the Shonai River at a place called Inabaji. There he joined with the forces of his uncle Oda Nobumitsu, who came from his castle Moriyama. Nobunaga ordered a three pronged attack of the Kiyosu Oda lands: one contingent would go to Matsuba, another would travel via Sanbongi and the third would go directly towards Kiyosu. After relaying these orders Nobunaga crossed the Shonai River and then the Gojo River. The joint forces of Oda Nobunaga and his uncle Oda Nobumitsu went directly towards Kiyosu and on the way approached the village of Kaizu from the east, over 3 kilometers from Kiyosu castle. Here they found that the Kiyosu Oda had occupied the village and at 8 in the morning Nobunaga ordered the assault to begin. The fighting was intense and some Samurai even tried to make a name for themselves by challenging renowned retainers of the enemy side. The Kiyosu retainer Sakai Jinsuke was struck down in this battle by Chujo Ietada and Shibata Katsuie. Approximately 50 prominent men at arms fell during this engagement.

The contingent sent to attack via Matsuba castle took the outer works of that castle by assault and put the defenders to flight. However, these troops that fled from Matsuba castle regrouped at the gorge of Omonsaki, near Majima. The Oda contingent followed them and attacked them there but the soldiers of the Kiyosu branch were able to hold the bottleneck from 8 in the morning to about noon. Fighting was fierce and both sides exchanged arrows and gun fire for much of the battle. During this battle at Omonsaki the enemy took many casualties, many of their captains also died, and were forced to retreat once again where they eventually made it to Kiyosu castle.

Further to the south-west, the contingent which Lord Nobunaga had sent towards Fukata took the town of Sanbongi with ease. The soldiers of the Kiyosu Oda did not build any defensive works here and when the Oda troops carried out their initial charge the defenders broke almost immediately, leaving over thirty dead including some of their most prominent samurai.

Following all of these successes, Nobunaga redirected all of his forces towards Matsuba and Fukata in order to take the castles themselves. Seeing the strength of Nobunaga's army the enemy in those castles surrendered, pleading for mercy, and turned the castle over to him then were allowed to retreat to Kiyosu. Nobunaga then turned his sights directly on Kiyosu and laid waste to the surrounding area including all of the fields and rice paddies. Despite this Kiyosu castle, which the powerful deputy governor held was now constricted by Nobunaga's presence and Kiyosu itself would feel the pressure. Within Kiyosu two individuals by the names of Yanada Yajiemon, who owned estates of land, and Nagoya Yagoro, a youngster who commanded 300 troops, sent an offer to Oda Nobunaga which included opening the gates to the town. Nobunaga accepted this offer and when the gates were opened to him by these conspirators he personally led his army into the town and raided it. The attack upon the town of Kiyosu as well as the control of the town weakened the castle and yet despite this Nobunaga was unable to take the castle and pulled back his troops. Having defeated the Kiyosu Oda in the field Oda Nobunaga then chose to withdraw and plan his next actions. The governor Shiba Yoshimune still resided within Kiyosu and it became common knowledge that Nobunaga intended to seize the castle and the governor for himself. Thus the retainers of the Kiyosu Oda were determined to stay on their guard and watch for threats within the castle lest they repeat the mistake which allowed Yanada Yajiemon and Nagoya Yagoro to open the town gates for Nobunaga. It became the case that paranoia engulfed Kiyosu castle and its masters became like cornered animals.

Sometime later (perhaps the fourth month of 1553) Saito Dosan sent Nobunaga a message asking him to meet near the Tomida temple. It was said that Saito Dosan was curious as to whether Nobunaga was as big a fool as many claimed. Nobunaga for his part did not hesitate to accept the offer. Nobunaga traveled down the Kiso River by ferry to the prosperous town of Tomida which was seen as a neutral city used for trade and parlay by the Saito and Oda clans. To see how big a fool Nobunaga was Saito Dosan placed over 700 of his retainers along the way that Nobunaga would go through. Dosan hid in a hut on the edge of town to see Nobunaga and his retinue as they entered. Nobunaga was dressed in the same inappropriate manner as usual and accompanied by 800 soldiers marching in close formation. The best of the Oda troops marched in the front carrying 500 long red pikes, 6.3 meters long, together with 500 bows and arquebuses. Then when Nobunaga arrived at the temple where he would reside he ordered folding screens to be put up. When Nobunaga emerged from his chambers he had his hair in an elegant style, wearing formal clothing and a fine sword. Upon seeing him his retainers discerned that Nobunaga was, in fact, no fool and that his act allowed him to be extremely secretive. When he entered the main hall Nobunaga's appearance shocked the Saito retainers as was Dosan himself. The meeting went on formally and when Nobunaga began to return home Dosan accompanied him for two kilometers. Dosan was able to see Nobunaga's troops up close and could not help but remark at the length of the Oda pikes. On his return home his retainer Inoko Takanari said "I still think that Lord Kazusa no Suke is a fool" to which Dosan replied, "If that is correct then I fear that one day my children will have to tie their horses to the gates of that fool". From that point on Nobunaga was free to show his true colors.

The Conspirators in Kiyosu Castle

On the 12th of the seventh month of 1553, the young Shiba Yoshikane traveled to the Gojo River with all of the battle-hardened samurai in Kiyosu castle, leaving only a handful of old soldiers. Sakai Daizen and Kawajiri Yoichi and Oda Sanmi decided that this was the opportunity which they wanted. Taking what troops they had they attacked the governor Shiba Yoshimune's residence within Kiyosu. A hard battle was fought by the governor's attendants but they were inevitably overrun and most of the household was slain. The governor himself, Shiba Yoshimune was murdered on the orders of the retainer Sakai Daizen, on behalf of the young lord of Kiyosu, Oda Nobutomo. Many had said that the governor was in league with Oda Nobunaga and so his death may have come about both due to opportunism, fed by greed, and paranoia. But it so happened that when they set fire to the governor's house so too did their own provisions catch fire; an unexpected turn of fortune that no doubt weakened Kiyosu considerably. When Shiba Yoshikane heard of what happened to his father he immediately fled from the Gojo River and escaped with all haste to inform Oda Nobunaga in Nagoya castle.

On the 18th of the seventh month, Nobunaga made a quick response to the crimes committed within Kiyosu. He ordered Shibata Katsuie to lead the vanguard to Kiyosu castle. At the approach of the Sanno shrine, the defenders of Kiyosu made a stand but were routed. They then tried to hold their ground at Kojikimura but to no avail. Finally, they attempted to make a stand at the Seiganji shrine but being completely shattered the defenders fled towards the town, but being unable to enter through the gate they had to make another stand in and around the moat. Turning to face their pursuers the Kiyosu defenders moved forward against the vanguard of Shibata Katsuie who was closing in. Closing ranks within less than 5 meters the fighting resumed but the men of Kiyosu were at a disadvantage, possibly because the moat and gates of the town were to their backs but more importantly because the spears of Nobunaga were longer and made short work of the Kiyosu troops. Some 30 prominent soldiers were killed outside of Kiyosu and this included Kawajiri Yoichi as well as Oda Sanmi, key retainers within Kiyosu and some of the main conspirators against the governor. Not wanting to attack the castle but knowing well that this was indeed a victory Nobunaga praised Shibata Katsuie's martial prowess and chose to retreat to Nagoya.

Success proved to be short lived in the grand scheme of things as not too long after Imagawa forces entered Owari. They took the stronghold at Yamaoka and when they received reinforcements they made that whole area of Shigiwara into their base for further operations. They threatened to besiege Ogawa castle which was controlled by Mizuno Nobutomo. Meanwhile, they also built fortifications at Muraki and entrenched themselves in that place. To the north, they also besieged Teramoto castle which promptly surrendered to the Imagawa and gave them hostages to ensure their submission. On a strategic level, this meant that the route to Ogawa castle, which was still under threat of siege, had been cut by the Imagawa. Nobunaga wanted to mobilize his army and maneuver behind the Imagawa army's rear so that he might relieve Ogawa castle. However, the problem of the Kiyosu Oda in his rear was still a concern to him and worried that they would attack Nagoya during his absence. In a remarkable show of trust, Nobunaga resolved his problem by asking his father-in-law Saito Dosan for military support.

Saito Dosan dispatched 1,000 men under the command of Ando Morinari arriving on the 20th of the first month of 1554 (a march of two days), Nobunaga ordered them to encamp at the hamlets of Shiga and Tamata around the town of Nagoya proper. Having done this Nobunaga inspected their encampments and met with Ando Morinari. Saito Dosan had instructed these officers to send him daily reports on what they saw in Owari. The next day when Nobunaga had ordered his troops to take the field Hayashi Hidesada and Hayashi Mimasaka made their dissatisfaction known over the situation and withdrew with their contingent to the nearby fort of Arako. When Nobunaga's retainers asked what ought to be done he responded by telling them that regardless all would proceed accordingly. The Oda clan marched out in force that day, they aimed for the south east of Owari where the Imagawa had attacked. Nobunaga spent that night at the shrine of Atsuta but the next morning a violent storm had broken out. Nobunaga had intended to travel from Atsuta to Ogawa by boat but the storm threatened to ruin his plans. The local sailors which Nobunaga had ordered to take his army were reluctant to put their boats out to sea but Nobunaga ignored them citing the feats of Minamoto Yoshitsune when he crossed over to Shikoku during the ancient Gempei War. Nobunaga made this crossing of 20 kilometers in an hour and upon landing in the Chita district he ordered his men to make a camp while he personally traveled to Ogawa. Nobunaga inspected the area and was briefed by Mizuno Nobutomo about the ongoing in that area and the next day on the 24th of the first month he left Ogawa, early in the morning, and assembled his army to attack the Imagawa defenses at Muraki just to the north.

The castle built by the Imagawa at Muraki had its north side protected by a natural barrier and had little to no protection by its defenders. The eastern side had the main entry into Muraki castle while the western side had the postern, a small entrance on that wall. The southern side of Muraki had the most fortifications and had a large moat, which itself was shaped in the kamebara style and was so wide that looking across that body of water was as difficult as crossing it. Yet it was there in the south, the most difficult point of attack against the castle, that Nobunaga himself chose to attack with his own contingent. At 8 in the morning, Samurai began to cross the moat and scale the battlements on the southern wall and despite taking casualties during this assault his men were in such high spirits that if a man were thrown off the wall he would try to get back up and scale it again. Nobunaga, taking personal command of his gunners, moved to the edge of the moat and began to fire on the enemy's loopholes. The fire from his arquebus was constant so that a man would fire his shot then another man behind him would give him a loaded gun to fire again. Inspired by his presence and direction Nobunaga's men sought to perform excellently in their duties. On the western wall the Lord's uncle, Oda Nobumitsu, led the assault upon the small gate and braving the enemy fire to force their way over the gate. On the eastern side, the main gate, the attack was led by Mizuno Nobutomo. The assaults of the Oda troops upon the Imagawa garrison was so relentless and brutal that even the brave defenders began to dwindle as the fighting wore on. But as it was becoming dusk (8 at night) and the Oda had suffered some losses so that Nobunaga offered them the option of surrender, having suffered many casualties themselves, the Imagawa garrison chose to accept. The following day Nobunaga attacked Teramoto castle by raiding the surrounding area and setting fire to the foot of that castle before returning to Nagoya with his army. On the 26th of the first month of 1554, Nobunaga went to Ando Morinari's camp to thank him for his assistance. The Saito troops returned to Mino the next day and when Saito Dosan was told of Nobunaga's campaign he was startled by Nobunaga's unnatural success over the odds which he faced.

The deputy governor of Owari, Oda Nobutomo, resided in Kiyosu castle which he had inherited from Oda Michikatsu. Oda Michikatsu had been the overlord of Nobunaga's father Nobuhide. But when Nobuhide outgrew his rank as a bugyo, Michikatsu turned on him but was unable to defeat his own official. Oda Nobunaga, therefore, should have been the subordinate of Oda Nobutomo despite now being many times more powerful than the Oda of the Kiyosu branch. In the provinces, a long chain of usurpation had begun. It was the retainer Sakai Daizen who first conspired to wage war on Nobunaga and later to kill the governor Shiba Yoshimune. He succeeded in doing away with the Shiba overlords, who for 150 years commanded the Oda clan and yet his actions were for naught as he could not defeat Oda Nobunaga in the field, depending only on the defenses of Kiyosu to survive. Even as other influential retainers were killed in the clashes with Oda Nobunaga it was Sakai Daizen and Oda Nobutomo who had survived. Where the others had fallen Sakai Daizen began to thrive and Oda Nobutomo who was the assistant to the deceased governor named Sakai Daizen the assistant to the assistant governor, more empty titles. Lord Nobunaga also had titles and even while the legitimate Shiba governors lived he had already begun claiming the governorship of the province, the key difference between Nobunaga and all of these supposed power brokers was that Nobunaga had the military strength to back his claims. Sakai Daizen knew this and sought the aid of Oda Nobumitsu of Moriyama castle, Nobunaga's uncle, by offering him joint deputy governorship with Oda Nobutomo. To this, Oda Nobumitsu agreed and sent an oath of support in writing.

Oda Nobumitsu traveled to Kiyosu castle as per his agreement with Sakai Daizen, he was allowed to occupy the southern tower of the castle on the 19th day of the fourth month. Everything was going well for Sakai Daizen who had succeeded in surviving in such an adverse situation. The next day on the 20th of the fourth month of 1554, Sakai Daizen was traveling to the southern tower to greet his new cohort Oda Nobumitsu. As if by instinct the treacherous Sakai Daizen sensed treachery and stopped on his way, then turned heel and ran. He would eventually flee to Suruga province where he joined Imagawa Yoshimoto. Indeed he was correct; Oda Nobumitsu had placed men to lie in wait in order to assassinate Sakai Daizen. But when Sakai Daizen did not arrive Nobumitsu gave the order to take Kiyosu castle from the inside and had the deputy governor Oda Nobutomo commit suicide. Oda Nobumitsu now being in control of Kiyosu turned it over to his nephew and Oda Nobunaga then made Kiyosu his residence, giving his castle at Nagoya to his uncle. The truth of this incident was that Oda Nobumitsu had informed his nephew of Sakai Daizen's offer and the two had planned to use this as a means to double cross the rulers of Kiyosu. In exchange, Nobunaga would give two of the lower districts of Owari to Nobumitsu, now that the four lower districts had been pacified.

A Death in the Family

Suddenly on the 26th of the eleventh month of 1555, the Lord's uncle Oda Nobumitsu was murdered by his retainer Sakai Magohachiro. The incident was so fortuitous for Nobunaga that one cannot help but suspect that this was his doing. Then on the 26th of the sixth month of 1556 Nobunaga's other uncle, Oda Nobutsugu traveled to the Shonai River. While there a man rode by and one of the soldiers of Nobutsugu remarked that he did not dismount to pay his respects to Lord Nobutsugu, in anger the soldier fired an arrow towards that man which resulted in the horse being startled, knocking him off and killing him. Upon checking the body Nobutsugu saw that it was Oda Hidetaka, the 15-year-old brother of Nobunaga and his own nephew. Fearing punishment from his nephew, the Lord, Nobutsugu fled spending a full year in exile. In response, Oda Nobuyuki marched from Suemori to Nobutsugu's fief at Moriyama castle and set fire to the town. Learning of this odd incident Nobunaga rode to Moriyama, by himself, and upon encountering the troops of his brother Nobuyuki he was informed of what had happened. Rather than blame his uncle Nobutsugu he blamed the dead Hidetaka for traveling without his attendants, and with that knowledge, Nobunaga rode back to his castle at Kiyosu. Instead of ending the issue Nobunaga gathered his troops to aid Nobuyuki's siege against the retainers of his uncle Nobutsugu. On the advice of Sakuma Nobumori, Lord Nobunaga saw it fit to place his younger brother Oda Hidetoshi in control of Moriyama. He called upon Tsunodo Shingo and Sakai Kizaemon, the two senior retainers of Moriyama, to open the gates for Oda Hidetoshi and to make him lord of that castle. These retainers convinced the others to do so and the scheme succeeded. For his advice, Nobunaga gave Sakuma Nobumori a fief in Lower Iida which produced one hundred koku.

Trouble had been brewing within the Oda clan and it was about to come to its boiling point. Hayashi Hidesada, one of the foremost and longest serving of the retainers, together with his younger brother Hayashi Mimasaka and Shibata Katsuie began to plot a coup against Nobunaga in order to place his younger brother Nobuyuki into power. Rumors of their treason began to spread but Nobunaga acted none the wiser. On the 26th of the fifth month of 1556 Nobunaga and his younger brother Hidetoshi traveled alone to the house of Hayashi Hidesada in Nagoya. Hayashi Mimasaka wanted to use this chance to kill Nobunaga but Hidesada relented, perhaps from a sense of shame, fear, honor or caution. Two days later the Hayashi brothers began their rebellion. Their supporters in Arako castle joined the forces of Oda Nobuyuki and cut the communications between Atsuta and Kiyosu. The Hayashi brothers were also supported by the castellans of Komeno and Owaki in the south, between Kiyosu and Nagoya. In Moriyama castle, Nobunaga's brother Oda Hidetoshi was killed by the retainer Tsunoda Shingo, who used his current role in the restoration of the castle's defenses and walls to bring additional men into the castle, which he used to kill Lord Hidetoshi. Tsunoda Shingo also persuaded the retainer Niwa Genroku and his men to join him and they took control of Moriyama castle. Later Moriyama would be returned to the Lord's uncle Nobutsugu when he returned from exile, however, he too met an unfortunate death fighting the Ikko Ikki; it was as if that castle was cursed.

Oda Nobuyuki took control of the Three Hamlets of Shinoki, a particularly grave offense as it was part of Nobunaga's personal fief. Nobunaga ordered the construction of fortifications at a place called Nazuka on the eastern side of the Odai River. With fortifications there, he would be able to control the crossing and have a means of controlling that side of the river, lest Nobuyuki attempt to take that area and split his territory in half. The next day on the 23rd of the eighth month 1556, the heavy rain caused the water in the Odai River to rise. Shibata Katsuie assuming that this would cause the construction of the fort at Nazuka to be delayed, chose to attack that area with 1,000 men. Hayashi Mimasaka came to support that attack with a further 700 men. On the 24th day of the eighth month, Nobunaga also chose to attack and crossed the Odai River near his fort at Nazuka with no more than 700 troops. Nobunaga deployed his men on the outskirts of a village called Ino (70 meters from the edge of that village) and placed his command post on the edge of a bamboo grove, whereas Shibata Katsuie advanced west along the main road. The forces of Nobunaga and Shibata Katsuie met outside of Ino, just to the east of Nazuka. At noon Nobunaga ordered the assault on Shibata Katsuie's 1,000 men to the south-east with the bulk of his army. The fighting was ferocious and Shibata Katsuie himself fought on the front lines and took the head of a troop captain, before being wounded and leaving the battlefield. Many accomplished warriors were killed on both sides and some men withdrew to Nobunaga's position, where he was guarded by 40 attendants armed with pikes. This prompted Nobunaga to join the fighting and rally his men where Nobunaga was free to unleash his fury on his rebellious vassals. The fighting was intense and the men's spirits were so high that few stopped to take heads and chose instead to push forward. Awed by Nobunaga's band, the 1,000 men of Shibata Katsuie began to break and flee.

Meanwhile, Hayashi Mimasaka had been advancing through the rice fields in the south with 700 troops so that he might attack Nobunaga's flank. But as Nobunaga had assaulted the 1,000 men under Shibata Katsuie and forced them back, he was now free to turn southward with his own 700 men and attack Hayashi Mimasaka, breaking apart this rebel force piecemeal. In this engagement, Nobunaga's retainer, Kuroda Kanbei, challenged Hayashi Mimasaka in combat. When both Kanbei and Mimasaka had tired, Nobunaga himself came forward and engaged Hayashi Mimasaka striking him down and taking his head thus avenging himself of the treason committed against him by the Hayashi brothers. Being overrun and their commander dead the renegades here routed as well. As the enemy began to flee the men of Nobunaga's army mounted their horses and pursued the routed army, taking many of their heads. By defeating the 1,700 enemy troops at Ino and permitting for his fort at Nazuka to finish construction he returned to Kiyosu castle that same day then the next day inspected more than 450 heads that had been taken by his soldiers.

Nobunaga was free to raid the territory between Nagoya castle and Suemori castle which he did multiple times and raided the towns next to those castles, placing them under siege. Nobunaga's mother Lady Gozen, who lived in Suemori with Nobunaga's younger brother Oda Nobuyuki, called upon Nobunaga's retainers Murai Sadakatsu and Shimada Hidemitsu to mediate an end to the conflict. As the envoys of Lady Gozen they made all manner of apologies on the behalf of Oda Nobuyuki and his cohorts and Nobunaga chose to forgive their actions. Nobunaga's mother, Oda Nobuyuki, Shibata Katsuie and other retainers came to Kiyosu castle to express their gratitude. Though it was considered unlikely that Nobunaga would tolerate the presence of the surviving architect of the revolt, Hayashi Hidesada, he took into account the fact that Hayashi Hidesada did not attempt to murder him as Mimasaka had wanted, and for that reason the Lord pardoned him.

Nobunaga began to settle the issues within his clan but the problems still remained. His older brother Oda Nobuhiro, who had a different mother from Nobunaga and Nobuyuki, began to contemplate revolt. Whenever Nobunaga went on campaign it appeared as if he took little care to secure his castle and the area behind him. Whenever Oda Nobuhiro took to the field in support he usually traveled through the main street of Kiyosu and greeted by the retainer Sawaki Toemon upon his arrival. The next time this would happen Nobuhiro planned on killing Sawaki Toemon, seize Kiyosu castle and inform the Saito of Mino province using a smoke signal, with whom he had worked out an arrangement to help him conquer Owari province by joining with him at Kiyosu and moving to defeat the isolated Oda Nobunaga. this was the plan that Oda Nobuhiro had come up with.

Reports came for Oda Nobunaga that mentioned the Saito clan amassing their troops along the border, almost as if their actions were normal. Nobunaga concluded that the Saito were plotting with someone within his clan. Nobunaga mustered his 800 battle hardened troops and advanced north to oppose a possible crossing of the Kiso River by the Saito clan. He left strict orders that the towns people should be put to guard the town gates and that Sawaki Taemon was not to leave the castle nor was anyone to enter the castle under any circumstances. Upon hearing that Nobunaga had marched with his army away from Kiyosu, Oda Nobuhiro went to that castle with his troops. Despite announcing his arrival Nobuhiro was not allowed inside of Kiyosu. Suspecting that his plan had been discovered he quickly retreated to his own residence. The conflict de-escalated from there and Nobunaga was given time to celebrate his victories with festivities across the province.

The dreaded lord of Mino province was once called Matsunami and he was born in the western hills of Yamashiro province. When he had already grown into a man he left Kyoto and traveled to Mino province where he joined a vassal of the Toki clan called Nagai Tozaemon. This Lord Nagai granted Dosan a stipend and assigned attendants and soldiers to him. But one day Dosan opportunistically killed Nagai Tozaemon and seized his castle, calling himself Nagai Shinkuro. The Nagai family rejected his rule and rebelled against him. When "Nagai Shinkuro" called on the help of the then Lord of Mino province, Toki Yorinari, the lord chose to support this usurper. At that time in the 1520's, Toki Yorinari ruled from Oga castle, just north of Inabayama, and had two sons, Lord Jiro and Lord Hachiro. Nagai Shinkuro was allowed to marry his daughter to Lord Jiro, allegedly using this opportunity to poison Lord Jiro. Nagai Shinkuro then gave this same daughter in marriage to Lord Hachiro. Where as Nagai Shinkuro resided in his castle atop Mount Inaba he allowed Hachiro to reside in a manner at the foot of the mountain, Nagai Shinkuro visited him often but did not allow him to leave his manner. One night Hachiro attempted to escape on horse but the troops of Nagai Shinkuro captured him and forced him to commit seppuku. Later when Nagai Shinkuro had overthrown Toki Yorinari and forced him into exile, he would take the name "Saito Dosan".

Now Saito Dosan had three sons: the eldest was Saito Yoshitatsu, the middle son was Magoshiro and the youngest was Kiheiji. Dosan and his sons all resided in Inokuchi castle atop the Inabayama. It was said that because Saito Yoshitatsu was easy going and quiet, Dosan mistook him as a halfwit and thought better of his two younger sons. This discontent among Dosan's sons and the eldest son began to resent the youngest, who likewise viewed their elder brother with contempt. Yoshitatsu feigned illness and stayed in his bed for a month. On the 22nd of the eleventh month of 1555, Saito Dosan went to his private residence at the foot of the Inabayama. Saito Yoshitatsu then immediately sent his uncle, Nagai Michitoshi to deliver a message to his brothers, informing them that his ill health would soon bring about his demise and that he wished to see them. The brothers were persuaded by Nagai Michitoshi and came to Yoshitatsu's quarters. Both brothers sat to drink sake in the inner room, leaving their swords at the entrance, until a retainer called Hineno Hironari, entered and cut them down with his sword.

After the deed was carried out Saito Yoshitatsu informed Saito Dosan of what he had done. Dosan had still been at the foot of the Inabayama and when he had received the news was immediately taken aback. Saito Dosan assembled his troops and laid to waste the town at the foot of Mount Inaba, then withdrew across the Nagara River to the mountains of the Yamagata district in the north. On the next year, the 18th of the fourth month of 1556, the war between Saito Yoshitatsu and Saito Dosan had officially begun. Saito Dosan had only those troops which were loyal directly to him where as Saito Yoshitatsu had effectively usurped his father as Lord of Mino province and gained its vassals as his supporters. Saito Dosan went up Mount Tsuru (12 kilometers northwest of Inabayama), which had a view of the entire province and chose that place as his head quarters. Dosan called out for the aid of Oda Nobunaga to which he agreed. Rapidly Nobunaga mustered his forces, marched out from Kiyosu and crossed the Kiso River and the Hida River by ferry, into Mino province and made camp at a fortified area called Toshima Tozobo in Oura near the Kiso River.

On the 20th of the fourth month 1556, at 8 in the morning, Saito Yoshitatsu ordered his army to the northwest, towards Mount Tsuru. Saito Dosan discovered his movements and came down from Mount Tsuru so that he could engage Saito Yoshitatsu's army along the Nagara River. Takenokoshi Dojin crossed that river with 600 men in a circular formation and charged towards Saito Dosan's command position. The battle between the men of Mino was intense but Saito Dosan succeeded in forcing Takenokoshi Dojin and his troops back, not only that but he personally killed Takenokoshi. As things were looking up for Dosan, in his precarious situation, it then suddenly turned for the worst when Saito Yoshitatsu sent another attack across the Nagara River. This time both armies deployed to face each other in battle formation. A duel between Shibata Kakunai, who served Dosan, and Nagaya Jinemon, who served Yoshitatsu, was fought on horseback. Shibata Kakunai won the contest but this was not enough to turn the tide of battle. Both sides charged and did battle, for what was the ultimate fate of Mino province. During the fighting Nagai Michitoshi grabbed Saito Dosan with the intention of taking him alive. While trying to take hold of him another samurai came up and cut Saito Dosan down. The former lord's head was taken to Saito Yoshitatsu and upon realizing that he had committed a sin against his own father, he shaved his head and became a monk, calling himself Hanka, named from a similar Chinese legend.

The battle was won by Saito Yoshitatsu and he inspected the many heads that were taken. Regardless he had been informed that Oda Nobunaga had entered Mino province and ordered an advance toward the Oda camp at Oura. Nobunaga marched forth from Oura for just over 3 kilometers and the vanguards of both forces, consisting of light infantry, made contact at Oyobigawara. A small skirmish broke out there but when Nobunaga was informed of Saito Dosan's death he ordered a fighting withdrawal to the camp at Oura. The Oda were required to retreat over a river and Nobunaga made sure to evacuate all attendants, servants and beasts of burden first. Then the army crossed the river, keeping a single boat for himself to cross while he personally led the rearguard to cover his army's retreat. When a band of enemy horsemen rode up to the river, where Nobunaga was preparing to cross, he fired his arquebus at them and they no longer tried to attack him. After making it back to Oura with his army intact, Nobunaga retreated to Owari province. The Saito clan were now actively hostile to Oda Nobunaga; Saito Dosan was no more.
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