Hori Hidemasa (堀秀政)

Hidemasa HORI was a busho (Japanese military commander) and daimyo (Japanese feudal lord) in the Sengoku period (period of warring states).

As a close adviser of Nobunaga
In 1553, He was born as the first son of Hideshige HORI in Mino Province. In his childhood, he and Naomasa HORI, his male cousin were brought up by his uncle who was a Buddhist priest of Ikkoshu sect. At first he served Nagaharu OTSU and Hideyoshi KINOSHITA, and when he was still 13 year old, he was promoted to a page, close adviser of Nobunaga ODA. At the age of 16, he served as a Fushin bugyo (shogunate administrator of activities by a community, such as cleaning or fixing stone wall) of Honkoku-ji Temple which was a temporary accommodation for Shogun Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA at that time, then he experienced a variety of bugyoshoku (magistrate) positions and became one of promising close advisers. Other than Hidemasa, there were close advisers of Nobunaga including Nagayori SUGAYA, Hidekatsu FUKUTOMI, Nagamasa OTSU, Iesada YABE, Hidekazu HASEGAWA and Sigemoto MANMI. Hidemasa served not only as bugyoshoku but also gained fame on battle fields. In 1575, he went to a battle to put down an uprising of Ikkoshu sect followers in Echizen Province which was one of main battles of the Oda army. During attacking on the Saiga-shu (the gun troop) in Kii Province in 1577, he led a troop with Nobumori SAKUMA and Hideyoshi HASHIBA away from headquarters of Nobunaga. When attacking on Arioka-jo Castle (the battle of Arioka-jo Castle) next year, he led a gun troop with Manmi and Sugaya. During attacking on Iga in 1581, the Taisho (general) was Nobuo ODA but Hidemasa led an army which came from Shigarakiguchi.

In 1581, he was awarded a territory which was 25,000 koku crop yields in Sakata County, Omi Province. Hidemasa was awarded Nagahama-jo Castle (in Omi Province) according to some historical sources, but there is different opinion because Hideyoshi continued to use Nagahama-jo Castle later. In addition, the 25,000 koku territory in Sakata County was equal amount of Kokudaka (crop yield) which he was awarded at the Kiyosu conference in which he was assigned to the daikan (local governor) for territory of Hidenobu ODA, so a confusion may have been caused by this. In the same year, a letter was sent to Nagayori SUGAYA to award the Echizen Fuchu-jo Castle of Toshiie MAEDA but it did not become reality because of the Honno-ji Incident. It is pointed out that the story about Hidemasa's becoming the castellan of the Nagahama-jo Castle was the same case. Later he made a contribution at the attack on Murashige ARAKI, then at subjugation of the Takeda clan in 1582, he followed Nobunaga and went to the Koshin region but already Nobutada ODA had destroyed the Takeda clan, so he did not join the battle.

He served as a bugyo at the Azuchi religious dispute with Sugaya and Hasegawa in 1579. The next year (1580), he served as a Zoei bugyo (Temple Administrator) of the Bateren-yashiki (House of the Christians) with Sugaya and Hasegawa. In the same year, he sent an accompanying letter for a letter to Masakatsu HACHISUKA written by Nobunaga. In addition, in 1582, shortly before the Honno-ji Incident, with Nagahide NIWA he was in charge of the entertainment for Ieyasu TOKUGAWA in Sakai because Mitsuhide AKECHI was dropped from the position, after the entertainment he went to Hideyoshi who was in Bitchu Province at that time.

As a daimyo who received favors from the Toyotomi clan
The Battle of Yamazaki
In 1582, Hidemasa was in Bitchu Province as Assistant Deputy General of Hideyoshi when the Honno-ji Incident happened and Nobunaga died. He became a retainer of Hideyoshi and joined the Battle of Yamazaki. At the battle, he served as the spearhead with Kiyohide NAKAGAWA and Ukon TAKAYAMA.
During the combat against Masachika MATSUDA, a general of the Akechi side, Yoshiharu HORIO, the first squad went up the mountain and then Hidemasa was about to follow, but his retainer Shichirobe HORI said as follows:
"Mister Horio went before us, but if he lost we would fall together." "We need to choose another way so that we will have a possibility of win." Because of this suggestion, Hidemasa chose another way, even though Horio's troops came down but Hidemasa attacked enemy forces from the side and could beat Masachika's troops ("Meisho Genkoroku" [the collections of anecdotes of great commanders in Japanese history]). Shichirobe is believed to have been an older brother of Naomasa HORI, Toshimune HORI (or Michitoshi), Toshimune originally served Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA and after Yoshiteru's death, served Nobunaga ODA.. The story shows the situation that older people like the father Hideshige, Hidemasa's relative Naomasa HORI and Toshimune supported Hidemasa as the soryo (heir) of the family. Mitsuhide AKECHI escaped from Yamazaki, supported by Katsumata SHIBATA. Katsumata served as a Jodai (castle keeper) at Kitanosho-jo Castle owned by Katsuie SHIBATA. Later he followed Akechi and after fall of the Akechi family, he became a retainer of Hidemasa and joined the Battle of Nagakute. Hidemitsu AKECHI, Mitsuhide's male cousin came to help Mitsuhide, but Hidemasa pushed him into Sakamoto-jo Castle. Hidemitsu admitted his defeat and told Naomasa, Hidemasa's chief retainer that he would give his family treasure for generations, then set fire to the castle and killed himself.

The Kiyosu conference and attack on Kitanosho
At the Kiyosu conference, he was assigned as daikan for territory owned directly by Hidenobu ODA and Hidenobu's guardian.

In May 1583, Hideyoshi attacked on Katsuie SHIBATA in Kitanosho in Echizen Province. Ieyasu wrote a letter to Hideyoshi to tell about Hidemasa's distinguished military service, "Also, the Shibata side force attacked on Kyutaro (Hidemasa)'s fort and a battle began, then Hidemasa's force broke down the force and defeated a lot of enemies, it was such a peerless achievement and I was very satisfied with it, and so on." After the battle, he received the family name of Hashiba and was awarded Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) and Saemon no kami (captain of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards). In addition, he was awarded 90,000 koku in Sawayama, Omi Province (There is a historical resource which tells Hidemasa was awarded territory in Sawayama at the Kiyosu conference). Because his male cousin, Rokuemon was the chief priest at Rensho-ji Temple of Ikkoshu sect, he was in charge of contact with Hongan-ji Temple side.

The Battle of Nagakute-the lord of Kitanosho-jo Castle
In 1584, during the Battle of Komaki-Nagakute, the friendly army was completely defeated but he divided his force into three, then waited for the armies of Ieyasu side led by Yasutaka OSUGA and Yasumasa SAKAKIBARA, conducted a pincer movement and defeated the enemies. He did not fight against Ieyasu's army and pulled back. In 1585, Hideyoshi was awarded Kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor) position, Hidemasa was awarded Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and became Jiju (Imperial Household Agency staff) and Saemon no kami. In 1585, he was awarded the territory of Nagahide NIWA's property inheritance, 180,000 koku in Kitanosho, Echizen Province for his military exploit at the attack on Negoro-ji Temple and the Shikoku Conquest. Yoshiaki MURAKAMI from Komatsu, Kaga Province and Hidekatsu MIZOGUCHI from Daisho-ji Temple in Kaga Province were ordered to be Hidemasa's yoriki (mounted warrior belonged to a general in the Sengoku period). In 1586, he and Hidekazu HASEGAWA were admitted to the court.

Invasion of Kyushu and Odawara
He joined the invasion of Kyushu in 1587. He served as the spearhead.
There is a story to tell about Hidemasa's achievement at that time; he arrested 50 samurai of Satsuma Province and gave an order to them in exchange for saving their lives to deliver the following message:
"Kyutaro HORI was ordered to be the spearhead of the army and we could easily defeat enemies but since we did not get a time to rest, our soldiers got very tired by now." "So tell johei (castle garrison) to fight actively and hold up at the castle for a minimum of three days." "We would like to have a rest for the soldiers and horses during the period." The samurai of Satsuma Province were taken aback and ran away to tell their friendly army about this, and they realized Hidemasa's power and admitted defeat.

In 1590, he joined the conquest and siege of Odawara and was ordered to serve as a general of defence of the left side.

He went up from Hakone-guchi and took control of Yamanaka-jo Castle. He went further to Hayakawa-guchi in Odawara, and put the headquarters at Kaizo-ji Temple. However, he caught a plague and suddenly died at the headquarters. Died at the age of 38. His successor was his first son, Hideharu. His graveyard was originally at Chokei-ji Temple in Kitanosho, Fukui Prefecture. Later his grave was relocated to Rinsen-ji Temple (present-day Joetsu City) on Mt. Kasuga in Nigata Prefecture.

Personal Profile

It is said that Nobunaga favored Hidemasa because of his talent and his beauty, therefore Hidemasa was given strong authority until Naritoshi MORI came to be treated preferentially by Nobunaga.

Hideyoshi also loved Hidemasa's talent and according to the "Meisho Genkoroku" (the collections of anecdotes of great commanders in Japanese history), Hideyoshi planned to give the Kanto region to Hidemasa soon after the conquest and siege of Odawara.

"Hidemasa was a talented person, Hideyoshi loved his talent and thought to give Kanhasshu (the Eight Provinces of the Kanto region) to him, but it is regrettable that Hidemasa died at the battle."

Because Hidemasa could handle any task given to him, he was called "Master Kyutaro."

In the story of Munenori YAGYU, there is a description about Hidemasa at the conquest and siege of Odawara.

"Hidemasa was the supreme commander of yugun (flying squads) and a lot of daimyo followed him." "At that time, Munenori followed Hosokawa Genba no jo (secretary of the Bureau of Buddhism and Aliens) and attacked on enemies." "When Hidemasa died, both people of high position and of low position regretted at Hidemasa's death." "People named him Master Saemon."

According to the "Mikawa Go Fudoki" (The Topographical Records of Mikawa Province), "Because Hideyoshi planned to assign Hidemasa as guardian of Oshu (Northern Honshu, the region encompassing Mutsu and Dewa Provinces) after suppression of Oshu is completed, so it is natural that Hideyoshi deeply regrets Hidemasa's sudden death."

This is an anecdote from the attacking on Kyushu. Jingobei YAMASHITA was a trusted vassal of Hidemasa. Jingobei lost his mind because of fear of battle and suddenly attacked Hidemasa with a sword from behind. Hidemasa cut YAMASHITA down at the same instance he turned around, and also Naomasa rushed in and cut YAMASHITA down from the back. Hidemasa's retainers could not even move. Hidemasa said to Naomasa "I was faster than you." Naomasa nodded quietly and put up his sword ("Meisho Genkoroku"). The story tells us the difference of their personality livelily.

During his life, he put a frame, which had a word "Yudan" (be off one's guard or inattention) on a wall, and always told his family "The only thing people should do is not to lose his sharpness."

When he was at Kitanosho, as "Loose regulations by mister Hori-Saemon no kami," over 30 articles on notice board to criticize salary for retainers determined by Hidemasa and bad behavior of peasant and townspeople were displayed. After Hidemasa read the article on the board, he put on Hakama (formal men's divided skirt) and washed his mouth by chozu (purifying water), held the board three times over his head and said, "There is nobody who can give such precious words to expostulate me, those words must be given by God," he put the board in a sack and put it in a box as family treasure, then denounced bad behavior of his retainers and changed their behavior completely. Because of his attitude, everyone lauded him as "Master Saemon."

Naomasa said later that Hidemasa regretted decline of the Oda family.

"Hidemasa deeply regretted the fall of Nobunaga's posterity and worried about conspiracy, so he always served a secret agent role."

Nobunaga favored Hidemasa, and Hidemasa served as baby-minder of Sanboshi, Nobunaga's grand child. Therefore, he had stronger feeling for the Oda family than others.

[Original Japanese]