Personal Loss, Demise of Takeda Clan and Oda Nobunaga

Back to Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543- 1616)


In 1579, Tokugawa Ieyasu’s wife and eldest son were accused of conspiring with Takeda Katsuyori against Oda Nobunaga. This happened when Toku Hime, the spouse of Tokugawa Nobuyasu wrote to her father and stated her suspicion that her mother-in-law, Lady Tsukiyama secretly plotted with the Takeda clan against Oda Nobunaga. In the process, Nobuyasu, who was close to his mother, was also implicated in the suspected plot. Sakai Tadatsugu, one of Tokugawa’s senior retainers did nothing to refute the accusation when confronted with such allegations during his visit to Oda’s residence. Sakai was said to have bad relationship with Nobuyasu. In order to placate Nobunaga, Ieyasu was forced to execute his wife, Lady Tsukiyama and ordered Nobuyasu to commit suicide. Tokugawa Ieyasu was known to put his clan above everything, even if it meant sacrificing his kin.

About 3 years later, in the spring of 1582, a coalition of warriors from Oda, Tokugawa, and Hojo clans invaded Kai to destroy the Takeda clan once and for all. Takeda Katsuyori became so unpopular among his people and even among his own warriors after his crushing defeat at Nagashino. To make matter worse, he moved his castle from Kofu to another new location. He levied manpower and taxes on his people in order to build a new castle.

One of the senior Takeda retainers, Anayama Beisetsu was so disillusioned with Takeda Katsuyori that he defected to the Tokugawa clan. With his help, the allied forces easily crossed into Takeda territory. Many of the Takeda warriors deserted while some others chose to fight to the death. Takeda Katsuyori fled with some faithful retainers and maidservants. Eventually, while a few dozen die-hard Takeda warriors fought to the death to protect their lord, Katsuyori killed his wife and son before committing seppuku. One of Katsuyori’s younger brothers, Takeda Morinobu made a last stand with a handful of warriors in a castle before predicting Oda Nobunaga’s imminent death  to his attacking foes. The Takeda clan was finally destroyed.

When Takeda Katsuyori’s head was put on a gibbet to be viewed, Oda Nobunaga was said to have laughed and scolded the head. Oda Nobunaga was known to have harbored a bitter grudge against the Takeda clan as he considered them as his greatest rivals.  Tokugawa Ieyasu sheltered many of the Takeda retainers. Takeda’s domain was passed to Ieyasu while Oda Nobunaga withdrew his forces from Kai and continued his conquest of the west of the country.

In June 1582, while dispatching one of his senior generals, Akechi Mitsuhide to aid Toyotomi Hideyoshi who was trying to subdue Mori in Aki province, Oda Nobunaga was leisuring in Honnoji Temple in Kyoto. Suddenly, Mitsuhide ordered his forces of around 10,000 samurai to turn back to Honnoji afer supposedly declared, “The enemy is in Honnoji.” Oda Nobunaga was said to bedleeping in a room at Honnoji when he was awakened by his faithful page, Mori Ranmaru that their castle was surrounded by his own forces. Stunned by the sudden treachery, Nobunaga and a handful of retainers desperately tried to fight off Mitsuhide’s men but they were easily subdued.

Nobunaga rushed into the Honnoji Temple. While the temple was on fire, Nobunaga was said to have disemboweled himself. The faithful Mori Ranmaru and all of Oda’s small group of bodyguards were killed in this incident. Akechi Mitsuhide then attacked the castle of Oda Nobutada, Nobunaga’s eldest son and heir. Nobutada was forced to commit suicide while his castle was overrun.

Akechi Mitsuhide tried to trace Tokugawa Ieyasu in order to kill Oda’s senior allies and vassals. However, Ieyasu narrowly escaped largely due to the help from Hattori Hanzo, a ninja master. Hattori led Ieyasu to cross the Iga territory to safety. Anayama Beisetsu who had betrayed the Takeda clan was killed by some unknown assailant after taking a different route. He was believed to have been killed by vengeful Takeda men for his treachery. They were believed to have been tracing him for weeks.

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