Thursday, 27 December 2012

Shogun - An Englishman in Japan

On 16th March 1600 William Adams, Pilot-Major of a Dutch trading fleet to the far East, was brought before Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was preparing to make himself master of Japan. Adams and his companions on the Liefde had been shipwrecked on Japanese shores, in Usuki Bay in Kyushu. The ship’s cargo of matchlocks, cannonballs, chain shot and fire arrows had been confiscated along with the ship.

Adams spoke some Portuguese and spoke to Ieyasu through a Portuguese speaking Japanese interpreter. Having been informed, by the Spaniards and Portuguese, that the ships in the fleet were pirates Ieyasu demanded an explanation from Adams, of the purpose of the fleet. The Dutch were keen to trade; the Spaniards and Portuguese did not want competitors in the highly lucrative markets in the Far East.
Early Life

William Adams was born in Gillingham in Kent on 24th September 1564. He was apprenticed to shipyard owner Nicholas Diggins at Limehouse, in London, at the age of 12 following the death of his father. For the next twelve years he learned the arts of shipbuilding, astronomy and navigation. Diggins, who provided many of the gentlemen adventurers with their ships, taught Adams how to build small, fast caravel built ships; showing him how to shape a ship’s frame and plank it.
The skills of being a sailor were changing dramatically and Adams probably studied the book ‘A Regiment for the Sea’ by William Bourne, teaching pilots how to find their latitude using a cross-staff and a mariner’s ring and attempting to work out longitude. Other books too taught new skills for the mariner.

He later sailed under the command of Sir Francis Drake and captained the supply ship the Richard Duffield, during the attempted Armada invasion of 1588. Adams married his sweetheart Mary Hyn in Stepney, a few months after the trouncing of the Spanish. After this, he worked for the Barbary (or Morocco) Company[i] established by Queen Elizabeth in 1585. The work could be dangerous as the routes were contested by pirates and the Turkish authorities treacherous.
In the spring of 1598 Adams, along with his brother Thomas, signed on as Pilot-Major for a fleet of five Dutch ships; the Liefde, the Hoop, the Geloof, the Trouw and the Blidje Boodschap. The fleet was to sail to South America and exchange their cargo for silver. If this failed they were to sail on to Japan, sell the cargo for silver and then buy spices in the Moluccas. Adams left his wife and daughter, Deliverance, when he signed on; Mary Adams must have been used by now to having her husband absent for much of the time.
The admiral of the fleet Jacques Mahu asked Adams to serve as pilot of his ship, the Hoop, while Thomas served on the Trouw. In June Adams, his brother and eleven other Englishmen boarded the ships. Adams took his world map, brass globe, astrolabe and compass. Thomas Shotten, one of the other Englishmen on board the fleet, had already circumnavigated the globe with Thomas Cavendish in 1586, and was a source of information for Adams.

The fleet set sail on 24th June; the Spanish suspected that one of the unnamed goals of the voyage was to attack Spanish possessions abroad for treasure trove.
‘We set saile with five ships……and departed from the coast of England the fifth of July’[ii]

wrote Adams, who at some point during the voyage transferred to the Liefde.
The provisions had been dished out too open-handedly for the first weeks of the voyage and re-provisioning was necessary before the Straits of Magellan were attempted. The fleet was sailing down the coast of Africa and the Portuguese had a heavily defended presence on the coast. It was decided to attempt a re-provisioning from the Cape Verde islands, but the Portuguese officials refused to deal with Protestant pirates, until the return of the Governor[iii].

The sailors attacked and overran a Portuguese fort, which merely antagonised the Portuguese authorities. The Governor ordered the fleet to sail off without the much needed supplies. On 22nd September the fleet was informed that admiral Jacques Mahu had died of a fever; he was replaced by his deputy Simon de Cordes. The required supplies were still unforthcoming when the fleet landed on the coast of equatorial Africa.
The fleet set sail for the coast of South America on 2nd January 1599; without being able to replenish supplies. The ships had been weakened by the months in tropical waters. Becalmed in the Doldrums, rations were again cut and the crews came down with scurvy. It was not until the end of March that the ships sighted land. It was decided to sail through the Straits of Magellan, to take advantage of the shelter it afforded, in the oncoming southern winter.

To the Pacific
Adams wanted to sail through the Straits as soon as possible to avoid the risk of being frozen in, but the sight of penguins was too much for the hungry crews, who within minutes of landing had clubbed down over 1,400 birds. It was decided that the now freezing waters were too dangerous to sail, although Adams believed he could pilot the fleet through the Straits. Food supplies remained desperately low and the expedition ran short of firewood.
The fleet encountered the distinctly unfriendly natives at the beginning of May; late May five Dutchmen were captured by the ‘wild men’ who tore three of their captives limb from limb[iv]. The temperatures started to climb in August and by early September the fleet again set sail towards the Pacific. Many of the crew had died of hunger; the Geloof lost seventy two men alone. Adams wrote

‘We came into the South Sea…..were, sixe or seven days after, in a greater storme.’[v]
The fleet was dispersed; Cordes had arranged a meeting point in Peru, in the event of such a happening. The Blidje Boodschap was captured by the Spanish; the crew of the Geloof decided to make for home. The crew of the Trouw decided to make for the Spice Islands and were captured by the Portuguese.

After being blown off course the Liefde eventually made landfall at the rendezvous in November 1599. These natives too were unfriendly[vi] but eventually agreed to trade. But when going ashore the Captain and twenty three of the crew (including Thomas Adams) were met by an ambush of more than one thousand Indians. The majority of those going ashore, including Thomas, were killed.
Leaving the benighted place for the island of St Maria the Liefde caught up with the Hoop. The Spanish agreed to re-victual the ships after two of their compliment were taken hostage. At a meeting of the senior officers it was agreed that the two ships would make for Japan, where there was the possibility of trading the broadcloth in the holds of the Liefde. At the end of November the ships departed on what was to be an epic voyage.

En Route to Japan
Mid-ocean on nearing some islands[vii] eight sailors took a pinnace and landed. They were abandoned to their fate as those left on the two ships were too weak to go after the deserters. The weather now turned against the voyagers and a great storm blew up

‘We had a wondrous storme of winde as ever I was in, with much raine.’[viii]
During the storm the Hoop went down in seconds, with the loss of all aboard. The sinking of the Hoop further accentuated the sense of despair held by the men. Food was scarce and scurvy and dysentery rife.

‘Great was the misery we were in, having no more but nine or ten able men to go or creepe upon their knees……our captain and all the rest looking every hour to die.’[ix]

But on 12th April 1600 the Liefde made landfall in Japan.
‘So we, in safety, let fall our anker, about a league from a place called Bungo.’[x]

Samurai William – Giles Milton, Hodder & Stoughton 2002

The Maker of Modern Japan – AL Sadler, Charles E Tuttle Company 1983
Tokugawa Ieyasu Shogun – Conrad Totman, Heian 1983

[i] The company was to enjoy a 12 year monopoly on the trade between England and Morocco
[ii] Samurai William - Milton
[iii] Absent at the time
[iv] The remaining two were rescued by their shipmates under the leadership of de Cordes.
[v] Samurai William - Milton
[vi] The Golden Hind had been met with unfriendly treatment here.
[vii] Possibly Hawaii
[viii] Samurai William - Milton
[ix] Ibid
[x] Ibid

Thursday, 20 December 2012

On This Day in the Third Reich 1939

Benito Mussolini, Prime Minister of Italy, meets with Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, who attempts to persuade Mussolini to enter the war. Himmler was to smooth over the problems caused by Robert Ley’s earlier visit to Rome. As Himmler’s Italian was virtually non-existent and Mussolini fancied himself as a linguist the conversation was probably in German.

Hitler sent Himmler to explain to Mussolini that the German alliance with Russia was neither ideological nor permanent. Himmler was to ascertain Mussolini’s reaction to potential ‘purification’ in the east. Mussolini indicated that he would not object to a one front war in Russia at some unspecified future date. He was happy for Germany to expand to the east.

Himmler informed Mussolini that expansion in the east would result in solving the Polish, the Slavic and Jewish questions. A letter Mussolini wrote to Hitler on 31st December refers to Hitler’s plans to create a ghetto in Lublin, information presumably garnered from Himmler.

The meeting lasted two hours and Ciano noted that Himmler emerged looking satisfied. Himmler had been informed by Mussolini that he would never permit a German defeat. Ciano, in one of his anti-German phases, wrote
‘That is already a great deal, but I’m afraid it already may have gone much further.’[i]

Mussolini informed Ciano that Himmler had appeared depressed. Ciano believed that Mussolini had promised to enter the war[ii]
‘The fewer Germans Mussolini sees the better.’[iii]

Galeazzo Ciano also met with Himmler and developed an exaggerated respect for Himmler’s astuteness & understanding.
In his diary Ciano notes that Britain has stopped Italian shipping; a move that steers Mussolini away from d├ętente with the British and towards the alliance with Germany that could bring him the military glory that he craves.

The Architect of Genocide – Richard Breitman, Pimlico 2004

Diary 1937-1943 – Galeazzo Ciano, Enigma Books 2002
The SS – Alibi of a Nation – Gerald Reitlinger, Da Capo Paperback, reprint from Viking 1957

[i] The Architect of Genocide - Breitman
[ii] Ciano had so far managed to keep Mussolini from dragging Italy into the war.
[iii] The SS – Alibi of a Nation - Reitlinger

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Shogun - Tokugawa Ieyasu 1600 - 1616


Screen showing battle of Sekigahara
At 2.00 am on the 21st the eastern army too was on the march to Sekigahara. By 4.40am both armies were in position and at 8.00 am the fighting started as the fog lifted. By 11.00 Ishida was having problems as the Shimazu, Mori and finally the Kobayakawa troops failed to follow orders.

At noon Kobayakawa Hideaki finally dismounted from his hilltop camp and attacked Otani Yoshitsugu, an erstwhile ally. By 2.00 pm Ieyasu was able to declare victory and view the heads of his slain enemies.
Ishida was not captured until 27th October, where he had been hiding on Mount Ibuki. He was executed on 6th November.

Round-up of the remnants of the western armies continued, while Ieyasu followed a policy of conciliating his enemies; fearing that harsh treatment would drive them back to their provinces to plot another uprising. Ieyasu’s core supporters were not given large fiefs in reward for their loyalty, but they were given key strategic positions around Edo.

Tokugawa Ieyasu
Ieyasu’s family were more liberally rewarded and in 1602 Ieyasu married his granddaughter to Hideyori; using his new wife’s retinue as a means of keeping an eye on the young man.
In 1600 the Emperor discussed the matter of his succession with Ieyasu. The Emperor favoured his second son, while Hideyoshi had been persuaded to order that the eldest son would be heir. Ieyasu, misliking the eldest son’s sponsors, agreed with the Emperor, who duly made his second son Crown Prince.

In 1603 Ieyasu was formally proclaimed Shogun, an honour that Nobunaga and Hideyoshi had been unable to claim, as they had no ties with the Minamoto family. When he was informed by his retainers that the Daimyos were expecting his elevation to Shogun, Ieyasu replied
'There is no hurry about that. The country has to be set in order, and the welfare of the people seen to. That is the most urgent need. Then the various Lords have to be settled in their new fiefs. When all that has been done it will be time to look to my own personal status.’[i]


Aerial view of Edo Castle
Ieyasu now set about enlarging his capital, the new administrative centre of the country. In July 1604 Ieyasu ordered that the Daimyos prepare to supply materials and labour to construct the city. An area of swamp was reclaimed from the sea and hills were levelled, creating a plain where the city was to be constructed.
The works were inspected by Ieyasu, until his retirement and then by Hidetada. That even the great Daimyos were concerned about the quality of the work and materials is evidenced by letters of the time. Masuda Motoyoshi, chief councillor of Mori Terumoto wrote

‘Ogosho Sama [Ieyasu] has been short-tempered, and I am very apprehensive……..We must indeed be very careful. And again, Mori and Kikkawa were not in time with their supplies. It is nothing to laugh at. The arrangements have got out of order, and I am very anxious about it.’[ii]
By June 1606 the majority of the first stage of the building work had been completed and Ieyasu handed out presents and compliments to those who had participated. In 1607 further orders for building were sent out and then again in 1611. The Daimyos, eager to be close to the source of power, began their own construction programmes in the city, building homes for themselves and families. The building of Edo financed by the Daimyos continued a tradition Hideyoshi had observed, of reducing the finances of those who might rise up against the regime.

Several of the Dutchmen who had arrived in the Liefde had been taken into the service of Matsura Shigenobu, Lord of Hirado. The captain and supercargo obtained permission to go home in 1605, with an invitation to Dutch merchants to come to Japan. Will Adams was not so fortunate. Ieyasu found him too useful.

Jacques Specx
In 1609 the Brach from the Netherlands arrived in Japan and its captain Specx met with Ieyasu presenting him with a letter from the Stadtholder. Ieyasu replied to the latter and gave a grant for Dutch ships to enter any port in Japan, the commencement of a trading advantage for the Dutch that lasted three hundred years.
In an attempt to overturn the concession given to the Dutch; the Spanish and Portuguese claimed that the Dutch were pirates. Adams appears to have overset this notion in his conversations with Ieyasu, giving him a relatively unbiased opinion of the situation in Europe.

Specx returned to Japan in 1612, with another letter from Prince Maurice.
‘My pen cannot express the feelings of gratitude with which I have received your honoured epistle sent from a realm so far distant. And I am beyond measure thankful for the gracious permission that you have given to the Dutch merchants who have arrived in Japan to trade freely in your domains.’[iii]
In his letter Prince Maurice rebutted the accusations of the Spanish and the Portuguese and claimed that their priests wanted to convert all Japan to Catholicism. This letter helped confirm the Shogun’s belief that the activities of the Catholic missionaries in Japan were a menace.

Jesuit priest with a Japanese nobleman
The Spaniards were not slow to send a representative whose demands on Ieyasu were staggering in their breadth and impertinence; the expulsion of the Dutch, mining rights, freedom to proselytise, freedom for Spanish ships to go wherever Japanese government ships sailed, provision of materials for shipbuilding, a separate justice system for Spanish residents in Japan; a seemingly endless list of arrogant demands.
Ieyasu wished to encourage foreign trade and shipbuilding and was happy to encourage Spanish involvement; but he set himself against the importation of Christianity into Japan, believing that it was incompatible with Japanese history, culture and mentality.

In 1614 Ieyasu ordered the expulsion of all Jesuits from Japan, forbidding samurai and nobles to profess Christianity, although allowing farmers and tradesmen to do so.

In 1605 Ieyasu officially retired becoming Ogosho[iv], leaving Hidetada to take his place as Shogun. He continued to rule Japan until his death. Ieyasu suggested that Hideyori leave Osaka to pay his respects to the new Shogun. Hideyori’s mother objected to her son leaving the safety of Osaka. Many of Hideyoshi’s former adherents were dying off, reducing the loyal support base for his son.
Ieyasu had been working to isolate Hideyori and he ordered the Daimyos to stop the practise of calling on him at Osaka, before visiting Sumpu[v] or Edo. Ieyasu had encouraged Hideyori and his mother to spend money rebuilding the Great Buddha built by Hideyoshi. The rebuilding was completed in 1614 and a new bell was cast. The inauguration of the new building was stopped on the grounds that the new bell was an insult to the Shogun and his family on a number of hair-splitting grounds.

Osaka Castle
Hideyori had apparently been trying to attract samurai into his service and his uncle Oda Yuraku had been sounding our Daimyos for support for his nephew. Honda, a Tokugawa adviser informed the Hideyori faction that the Shogun believed that Hideyori should leave Osaka for some other province. Hideyori and his advisers could not accept such proposals and Ieyasu ensured that rumours of his intentions to rebel against the Shogunate circulated throughout Japan. He then decreed a casus belli and attacked.
Hideyori appealed to the Daimyos for support, but his call was not answered. He had 90,000 freelance samurai to defend Osaka Castle, while the Daimyos answered the Tokugawa call for levies. Hidetada was in charge of the siege, but Ieyasu visited in mid-November commenting

‘The inner part of the castle is very strong, and will be difficult to take, even if we carry the outer. We must adopt a waiting policy, and hem them in by fortified works, and so cut off all their communications. Let the Shogun see to this, and I will go hawking in the Kinai district.’[vi]
The defenders after suffering a series of bombardments agreed to the castle’s moats being filled in and Ieyasu’s men worked day and night to level the castle’s defences. The agreement stated that Hideyori’s status would not be altered in any way and hostages were sent to Edo. Following the peace all the Daimyos were excused from further public works for three years.

But information was soon available to the effect that the defenders were busy refortifying the castle; in May 1615 the Shogun’s army marched to quell the defiance of Hideyori’s supporters. After a close fought battle the Shogun’s army invaded the castle where Hideyori, his staff and his mother killed themselves. Later Hideyori’s young son was executed. Ieyasu’s step-granddaughter[vii] was saved from the castle and was later remarried to a member of the loyal Honda family.

Ieyasu's grave
It is possible that Ieyasu died from cancer of the stomach. He had always lived frugally and was healthy, but he suffered an illness in the summer after the fall of Osaka, which he recovered. The Emperor was now persuaded to name Ieyasu Dajodaijin and Ieyasu attended the ceremonies to celebrate his commission, despite a re-occurrence of his illness. During this last illness he received many of the great Daimyo, calling to present their respects. Ieyasu died on 1st June 1616.

The Christian Martys of Nagasaki
His ‘retirement’ meant that no change was formally necessary as Hidetada was already in post as Shogun. Hidetada was ill-disposed towards Christians, enacting anti-Christian legislation, forcing Christian Diamyo to commit suicide, forcing other Christians to deny their beliefs and executing 55 Christians in Nagasaki. The Togukawa Shogunate stayed in power until 1867, when the modernising influences from abroad finally toppled the family from their hold on power.

Sekigahara – Anthony Bryant, Osprey Publishing Ltd 1995
Samurai William – Giles Milton, Hodder & Stoughton 2002

The Maker of Modern Japan – AL Sadler, Charles E Tuttle Company 1983
Tokugawa Ieyasu Shogun – Conrad Totman, Heian 1983

[i] The Maker of Modern Japan - Sadler
[ii] Ibid
[iii] Ibid
[iv] Retired Shogun
[v] Where Ieyasu was now domiciled
[vi] The Maker of Modern Japan - Sadler
[vii] Hideyori’s wife

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Shogun - Tokugawa Ieyasu 1588-1600

Campaigning in the Kwanto
Hideyoshi now decided on subduing the last of the Lords who had hitherto failed to submit to him; Hojo of the Kwanto. When Hojo was called to the capital to declare himself a vassal, he refused despite apparently being advised to attend by Ieyasu. Hideyoshi then accused Hojo of plotting rebellion, promising to march against him the following year.

Hideyoshi had been preparing for this showdown for some years, ordering the collection of hostages in Kyoto from all his tributary lords. He ordered that the lords of the Kinia mobilise their men; Ieyasu had to produce seven men per hundred koku[i].
Tokugawa Hidetada as an adult 
At the beginning of 1589 Ieyasu sent his heir Nagamaru to Hideyoshi as a hostage and Hideyoshi’s wife organised Nagamaru’s coming of age ceremony and as a compliment he was given the first character of Hideyoshi’s name, henceforth he would be known as Hidetada. She also asked her husband to return Hidetada to his father. In return Ieyasu sent a cousin as hostage.
Roughly contemporaneous with Nagamaru’s arrival as a hostage, his step-mother died. Ieyasu was busy preparing the Tokaido Highway for use during the forthcoming military adventures, castles needed renovation and rest-houses prepared.

In 1590 150,000 men surrounded Hojo’s town of Odawara. It took three months before the castle surrendered and Hojo Ujimasa and his younger brother Ujiteru committed seppuku. Hideyoshi gave Ieyasu the Lordship of the eight provinces of the Kwanto; in return Ieyasu gave back the four provinces he had obtained for himself and his ancestral fief of Mikawa, rendering himself more vulnerable to Hideyoshi.

Hideyoshi immediately gave Ieyasu’s former fiefs to his own supporters, bottling Ieyasu into the Kwanto. On the advice of Hideyoshi, Ieyasu decided to make Edo his capital and on 1st August 1590 made his first entrance into the town, which was little more than a village. He had only been given the Lordship of the Kwanto on 14th July and the rapidity of his decision to relocate the capital stunned even Hideyoshi.
‘The Lord Tokugawa’s way of doing things is really extraordinary.’[ii]

The grants of lands to his followers Ieyasu left to Ina Kumazo Tadatsuga, making him Daikwan[iii] of the Kwanto. Tadatsuga stayed in this role until his death in 1615. In that time he was heavily involved in the reclamation of the Kwanto, putting down brigands, administering justice and improving communications and increasing revenues.
Korea and the Death of Hideyoshi

Nagoya Castle
In December 1592 Hideyoshi announced his intention to invade Korea. The vanguard was to depart the following March to be followed by an army of over 270,000. Hideyoshi arrived at the forward base, Nagoya, in April 1593. He appointed Ieyasu as supreme commander of all Diamyos in the Eastern Provinces. Hidetada was left in charge in Edo, while Ieyasu travelled to Nagoya with 15,000 men. Ieyasu had also provided a number of war-vessels to transport his men across to Korea.

Toyotomi Hidetsugu
The war was to continue intermittently for six years, until Hideyoshi’s death, during which time Ieyasu remained in Japan. In 1591 Hideyoshi retired from the role of Kambaku and took the title Taiko[iv]. His nephew and heir Hidetsugu took the title Kampaku. Ieyasu was one of those appointed to the new Kambaku’s council of advisers. Hideyoshi had intended to prosecute the war in person, but had been dissuaded by his mother, to whom he was extremely attached and by the Emperor. He now spent a lot of time entertaining and being entertained (at great expense to his hosts) in Kyoto.
Sometime after the birth of his son Hideyori, in September 1593, Hideyoshi handed over Osaka Castle to him. At the same time he decided on the rebuilding of Fushimi, for his son now designated his successor. The castle was rebuilt within the year at the expense of the Daimyos.

At the end of 1595 Hidetsugu was forced to commit seppuku, having been charged with treason by his uncle the Taiko[v]. Hideyoshi had his nephew’s wife, consorts and children put to death on a common execution ground. Ieyasu was not impressed with Hideyori’s actions.
‘I don’t think you did well at all in this. If the Kambaku was at fault, could you not have banished him somewhere or other? It is a pity you acted with such harshness. You are getting on in years now, while Hideyori is only a baby. If anything untoward should happen the Empire would have been safe if the Kambaku had been alive.’[vi]

In May 1596 Ieyasu was promoted to the Upper Second rank at Court.
In September 1596 the Chinese envoys attended on Hideyoshi at Fushimi; they failed to announce his accession as Emperor of China as he had expected. Negotiations between the two states were broken off and Hideyoshi again declared war on Korea, claiming that they were the cause of his quarrel with China. Early the following year Hideyoshi launched the armies of the Daimyo’s on Korea, while he tarried in Japan entertaining and being entertained.

In August 1598 Hideyoshi, already ill, died suddenly leaving only an infant child to succeed him as de facto ruler of Japan.
The Road to Sekigahara

Hideyoshi had already set up a council of regents, including Ieyasu, to rule Japan until Hideyori was old enough to act in person. After Hideyoshi’s death the other regents were upset by Ieyasu’s politicking. He arranged a number of political marriages for his children and grandchildren. This had been forbidden by Hideyoshi, in an attempt to stop the formation of political cliques.
The Regents had to act in concert with the five Bugyo[vii] who had worked for Hideyoshi throughout his period in power. The two groups appointed three interveners to ensure cooperation between them. One of the Bugyo, Ishida Mitsunari immediately complained of Ieyasu’s infringement of the rules on political marriages. The problem was submitted to the Regents for their consideration.

Troops massed in Kyoto and Fushimi, but eventually the Regents agreed with Ieyasu that it was a minor matter. Ieyasu pointed out that the Bugyo had failed to act by the rules on all occasions and the matter was smoothed over. It is possible that Ieyasu was testing the waters at this point. Ieyasu was asked to resign by the other Regents, but he ignored them.
Hideyori was residing at Osaka Castle with his guardian Maeda Toshiie, while Ieyasu was at Fushimi. In 1599 Ishida was attacked, by a number of generals whom he had upset[viii] on a visit to Osaka to pay his respects to the dying Maeda. He escaped dressed as a lady and fled to take refuge with Ieyasu in Fushimi, despite authorship of a recent attempt to kill his host[ix]. Ieyasu sent Ishida home with his son Hidetada as an escort. Even while staying with Ieyasu, Ishida was calling on his allies to attack his host.

It is believed that his senior adviser Honda Masanobu advised Ieyasu to let Ishida foment the nascent opposition. With Ishida at its head it would be easier for Ieyasu to act against them, as Hideyori was still just a child of seven, and Ishida could be portrayed as acting in his own interests. Ieyasu now suggested that the Daimyos, who had borne the burden of the Korean war, retire to their fiefs. Many left for their respective provinces to prepare for war.

Adams meets Ieyasu
After Maeda’s death Ieyasu stayed the first few months of 1600 with Hideyori at Osaka Castle. During this stay Will Adams[x], the English Pilot-Major of a Dutch trading fleet blown ashore in Japan[xi], was brought before Ieyasu. Ieyasu was more than happy to receive the cargo of the Liefde, which he confiscated and detained its crew. Ieyasu had the Liefde sailed to Uraga[xii].
Ieyasu received notification that Uesegi Kagekatsu, one of Ishida’s allies, was building a new castle at Kazashigahara; allegedly using 70,000 men on the construction working day and night. In May Ieyasu invited Uesegi to visit Osaka to explain the work he was having done and in default of the proposed visit sent en envoy, who narrowly escaped assassination. Uesegi’s neighbour informed Ieyasu that the peace of the region could not be guaranteed unless Uesegi was curbed.

Ieyasu left Osaka on 18th June, making a leisurely journey down to Edo, spending much of the trip hawking, as well as visiting the Lords of Kuroda, Hosakawa and Date. Ieyasu reached Edo on 2nd July and after a few days moved on to Koyoma in Hitachi, where Hidetada was overseeing the operation against Uesegi Kagekatsu. He held a council of his allies and received the news that Ishida had declared war. Ieyasu offered the families of the hostages in Osaka, held by Ishida, the chance to side with the western allies[xiii], no-one took him up on the offer.
Ieyasu called on his allies to attack Uesegi. The Satake transferred their allegiance to the western alliance, while the Maeda were unable to attack as they were pinned down by attacks from hostile neighbours. The combined forces of Date and Mogami kept Uesegi sufficiently occupied that he was unable to give Ishida any assistance.

To ensure freedom of movement for his armies Ieyasu sent detachments of men to take key positions on the Tokkaido and the Nakasendo[xiv]. The most important of these was the castle of Kiyosu in Owari, held by Osaki Gemba, known as Devil Gemba. The castle was a key point between the two roads and control of the castle meant control of the region. Ishida too recognised the castle’s strategic value and attempted to persuade Gemba to hand the castle to him. Gemba called for help from the eastern allies and the castle was held for Ieyasu.

Torii Mototada
By September 30th the western allies had captured a number of key strategic points and settled at Akasaka to await Ieyasu. An old friend of Ieyasu, Torii Mototada undertook to Ieyasu to hold his strategic castle of Fushimi to the end. Ishida and his allies besieged the castle. The castle was taken after one of the defenders, under threat of having his family crucified, betrayed Mototada. Three hundred and fifty men died with Mototada after a siege lasting two weeks. What was left of the fortress was hardly worth the cost of gaining it.
On 7th October Ieyasu left Edo at the head of an army of 30,000 men and on the 12th had reached Shimada in Suruga. Two days later he had a message of support from Kobayakawa Hideaki[xv].By the 19th Ieyasu was at Gifu and the following day the western army was on the march to Sekigahara.

Sekigahara – Anthony Bryant, Osprey Publishing Ltd 1995

Samurai William – Giles Milton, Hodder & Stoughton 2002
The Maker of Modern Japan – AL Sadler, Charles E Tuttle Company 1983

Tokugawa Ieyasu Shogun – Conrad Totman, Heian 1983

[i] The koku was originally defined as a quantity of rice, historically defined as enough rice to feed one person for one year - wikipedia
[ii] The Maker of Modern Japan - Sadler
[iii] District Commissioner
[iv] Retired Kambaku
[v] Possibly because he stood between Hideyori and the succession
[vi] The Maker of Modern Japan - Sadler
[vii] Administrators
[viii] Ishida was a brilliant financial administrator but a very rigid personality, who got on badly with the military.
[ix] Ieyasu was probably aware of this attempt.
[x] A veteran of the fleet put together to fight the Armada, captaining one of the ships.
[xi] Of the remainder of the fleet one ship made its way back to Holland, one ship sank, one was taken by the Spanish and the other by the Portuguese.
[xii] Kanagawa Prefecture
[xiii] Ishida’s party.
[xiv] The key roads to the capital
[xv] The nephew of Hideyoshi’s wife