Hashiba Hidekatsu (羽柴秀勝)

Hidekatsu HASHIBA was a Japanese military commander lived during the Azuchi-Momoyama Period. He was the fourth son of Nobunaga ODA and later adopted by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI.


Hidekatsu was born as the fourth son to Nobunaga ODA in 1568. His mother is unknown. However, considering that Narimasa SASSA, who was confronting Hideyoshi, let his daughter married to Nobutaka ODA, a younger brother of Hidekatsu, in later years (when Hidekatsu was alive), it seems that Hidekatsu's mother had a social status equivalent or lower than the mother of Nobutaka. Hidekatsu was adopted by Hideyoshi HASHIBA who did not have a child in 1579. It is said that Hideyoshi begged Nobunaga for this, with an aim to extend Hideyoshi's influence in the Oda family.

In March 1582, when Hideyoshi attacked Bicchu Province, Hidekatsu followed him and fought his first battle in the Siege of Kojima Castle of Bicchu Province and also took part in the Battle of Takamatsu Castle of the same province. After his biological father, Nobunaga ODA, died in the Honnoji Incident in June, Hidekatsu, 'the fourth son of Nobunaga', was often used by Hideyoshi politically; in the Battle of Yamazaki, Hidekatsu and his biological older brother, Nobutaka, were used as a banner of a battle of revenge, and also in the funeral ceremony of Nobunaga initiated by Hideyoshi, Hidekatsu took the role of the chief mourner. Hidekatsu also joined the Battle of Shizugatake in 1583 and the Battle of Komaki-Nagakute in 1584.

In the Kiyosu conference which was held to reallocate the territory of the Oda clan, Hidekatsu was given Kameyama Castle (Tanba Province) which was a strategically important place close to Kyoto and previously owned by Mitsuhide AKECHI. However, after this, he got frequently bedridden for his poor health and died of disease in Kameyama Castle of Tanba Province on December 10, 1585. He died at the age of 18. His posthumous Buddhist name was Zuirinin and his graves are both in Mt. Koya and in Sokenin of Daitoku-ji Temple. His wooden statue can be found in Zuirin-in of Chion-ji Temple and his portraits are in honbo (priest's main residence) of Daitoku-ji Temple and Chion-ji Temple.

To Hideyoshi, having Hidekatsu who was from his former lord, the Oda family, as his heir was a pretext, and Hideyoshi, as a member of the Oda family, altered the conflicts with other warlords to his advantage. Hidekatsu could have been elected as a real heir of Hideyoshi, if Hidekatsu had lived long, but considering that Hideyoshi was appointed as Kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor) in 1585, the same year Hidekatsu died, it seems that Hideyoshi no longer needed the name of ODA.

The origin of the name, Hidekatsu

There is no doubt that Hideyoshi lamented the death of Hidekatsu and had a particular feeling to the name, given that Hideyoshi gave the same name to his newly adopted nephew (Hidekatsu TOYOTOMI). According to one theory, Hideyoshi had his first son with a woman called, Minamidono, when he served as the lord of Hagahama Castle, but the boy died during infancy. It is believed that the name of the child was also Hidekatsu HASHIBA (Ishimatsumaru). In Myoho-ji Temple in Nagahama (present-day, Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture), there remain a portrait called Hidekatsu HASHIBA portrait, unconfirmed, a tombstone and a Buddhist mortuary which are believed to be Hidekatsu's. Also, it is said that the Hikiyama festival held in April (previously in October) every year in Nagahama started when townspeople of Nagahama built a float to be drawn throughout the town in the festival of the Nagahama Hachimangu Shrine, after Hideyoshi, then-castle lord of Nagahama Castle, gave gold dust to the townspeople to celebrate the birth of his son.


Nagakatsu FUJIKAKE

[Original Japanese]