Early Life/ Background of Tokugawa
Born as Matsudaira Takechiyo in Mikawa, central Japan, in a domain just east of Nagoya on 31 January 1543, Ieyasu Tokugawa was the son of Matsudaira Hirotada (1526-1549), a minor and rather obscure lord. Hirotada and his father, Matsudaira Kiyoyasu (1511-1535) spent much of their life struggling for the very survival of the Matsudaira clan from the threat and dominance of the Oda clan in the west and Imagawa clan, an even more powerful clan east of Mikawa.
Kiyoyasu was lsained by one of his own retainers in December 1535 at the age of 24 under disputed circumstances. His son, Hirotada was made the head of the clan when he was still a boy. Hirotada later married Odainokata, daughter of the Mizuno clan. She gave birth to Takechiyo (the future Tokugawa Ieyasu) in Okazaki Castle in early 1543. Unlike most members of his clan, Hirotada wanted to side with the Imagawa clan against the Oda clan. His decision caused a split within the Matsudaira clan.
When Oda Nobuhide (father if the illustrious Oda Nobunaga) invaded Mikawa in early 1548, Matsudaira Hirotada implored Imagawa Yoshimoto, head of the Imagawa clan for help. Imagawa agreed to aid the Matsudaira clan on the condition that Hirotada sent his young son to Sumpu as a hostage. Hirotada agreed and sent Takechiyo to Imagawa’s territory despite the protest from many of his clansmen.
Unfortunately, Oda Nobunaga caught wind of the arrangement. He sent his men to kidnap the boy and trundle him off to his castle in Nagoya. Nobuhide tried to blackmail Hirotada into severing his alliance with the Imagawa clan and establish a new alliance with the Oda clan. He threaten to kill little Takechiyo if Hirotada refused. Hirotada, however, refused to back down and stated that he was willing to sacrifice his own son to prove his commitment in his alliance with Imagawa Yoshimoto.
Nobuhide was undoubtedly disappointed that his threat failed to sway Matsudaira Hirotada. However, he did the boy no harm. In the following year, both Nobuhide and Hirotada passed away. Nobuhide died of illness while Hirotada died either from sickness or murder (probably poisoning). Later, Takechiyo was rescued by Imagawa warriors and sent to Imagawa’s territory where he would spent the rest of his childhood and much of his teenage years there. He married Yoshimoto’s niece, Lady Tsukiyama. His first son, Nobuyasu in 1559.