Tokugawa Hidetada (徳川秀忠)

Hidetada TOKUGAWA (May 12, 1579 - March 14, 1632) was a Busho (Japanese military commander) from the Azuchi-Momoyama period to the Edo period and the second Shogun of the Edo Bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

Race for successor

He was born in Hamamatsu, Totomi Province as the third son of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA and brought up by Menoto (Wet nurse) Oba no Tsubone. His mother was Saigo no tsubone, Sokushitsu (concubine) whose family home was the Saigo clan which was a family of the Kikuchi clan of Kyushu and a powerful Kokujin (Local lord) of Mikawa Province who had once filled the position of Shugodai (deputy of Shugo, provincial military governor) in the early Muromachi period.

He had a younger brother, Tadayoshi MATSUDAIRA, the fourth son of Ieyasu. His eldest brother, Nobuyasu MATSUDAIRA died in the year when Hidetada was born and his older brother by a concubine, Hideyasu YUKI was adopted by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI and later succeeded the Yuki clan. Therefore, Hidetada whose mother came from an important family in Mikawa Province was treated as the substantial heir and appointed to Chunagon (vice-councilor of state) at the age of 14 and called the Edo Chunagon. At that time, he was given the family name of Hashiba.

In 1590, Hidetada had a wedding ceremony to marry Ohime (Shunshoin), an adopted daughter of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI and a daughter of Nobukatsu ODA, however, the marriage was broken off because Nobukatsu was deprived of his status as a result of his quarrel with Hideyoshi. In 1595, he married Sugen-in (Her father was Nagamasa ASAI and her mother was Oichi no kata, younger sister of Nobunaga ODA), a niece of Nobunaga and an adopted daughter of Hideyoshi.

In the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, he was assigned to lead a detached force going through the Nakasen-do Road and planned to arrive at Akasaka-shuku Post station town in Mino Province on October 16 (The Fukushima family document mentioned 'Chunagon is to arrive at the place around the tenth'), while the main force led by Ieyasu was going through the Tokai-do Road. However, in the Battle of Ueda in Shinano Province, he took so much time to cope with the fierce resistance by Masayuki SANADA that he lost his chance to participate in the Battle of Sekigahara on October 21. Research in recent years has shown a below-mentioned assumption. By that incident, Hidetada exposed throughout the country his incompetence in the military affairs, which made Ieyasu grow pessimistic about the future of the Tokugawa family after his death, and although Ieyasu originally intended to make Tokugawa and Toyotomi families coexist in accordance with the last wishes of Hideyoshi, he abandoned that intention and chose to abolish the Toyotomi family so that he could be freed from anxiety about the future.

Even though Hidetada's ability in the military affairs was doubtful, he became the successor, for which it is said that Ieyasu regarded Hidetada suitable as a ruler in the 'Maintenance Ages' (Ieyasu read "Joganseiyo," a book written about Taiso, the second Emperor of Tang Dynasty in China and is thought to have naturally read a sentence in it saying 'Starting a reign is less difficult than carrying it through'). He was expected to solidify the foundations of the newly established Edo Bakufu strictly in line with his father's policy and it may be said that Hidetada consequently came up to the expectations well. However, Hidetada himself seems to have worried about suffering the disgrace of being an incompetent Busho and he strongly recommended Ieyasu to take a daring attack tactic against the Toyotomi side in the Osaka no Eki (The Siege of Osaka), on which there is a theory that Hidetada planned to clear his name by winning a victory in the battle.

Seitaishogun (commander-in-chief of the expeditionary force against the barbarians, great, unifying leader)

Ieyasu who became Seitaishogun and founded the Bakufu in 1603 stayed in the position only for two years and transfer Shogunate to Hidetada to make sure that the Tokugawa clan keep Shogunate by heredity. When Hidetada went to the capital (Kyoto) for his inauguration as Shogun, he led an army of 100,000 territorial lords of Kanto, Tohoku and Koshin regions. Hidetada who lived in the Edo Castle and Ogosho (the retired and still de facto Shogun) Ieyasu in the Sunpu-jo Castle formed a duarchy, however, Hidetada took the reins of the Bakufu according to Ieyasu's intention with advice of Masanobu HONDA and others. He participated in the Osaka no Eki with Ieyasu as the supreme commander, but in the battle of 1615, his Honjin (headquarters) was threatened by Harufusa Ono, a chief retainer of the Toyotomi family. The Toyotomi family was finally ruined and Senhime, Hidetada's daughter who married Hideyori TOYOTOMI was rescued. After that, with Ieyasu, he was engaged in enactment of laws including the Buke Shohatto (Code for the warrior households) and Kinchu narabini Kuge Shohatto (Code for Emperor and Court nobles).

Furthermore, there is a theory that, when Shogunate was transferred to Hidetada, the titles of Genji no choja (chief of the Minamoto clan) and Shogakuin no Betto (chief of Shogakuin) were not transferred (Tomohiko OKANO "Genji and King of Japan"). Although "Tokugawa Jikki" (The True Tokugawa Records) says that he received those titles, the theory claims that they were given after his death. If that was true, he was only Tokugawa Shogun who did not become Genji no choja.

After Ieyasu died in 1616, Hidetada started the direct Shogun's rule filling the key Bakufu positions with his own close aides including Tadayo SAKAI and Toshikatsu DOI appointed as Roju (senior councilor of the Tokugawa Shogunate) and displayed his own leadership. He tightened the controls on Daimyo (Japanese feudal lord), by which many Tozama daimyo (a daimyo who was not a hereditary vassal of the Tokugawa family) including Masanori FUKUSHIMA were deprived of their status, and assigned his three younger brothers to the Owari Domain, the Kii Domain and the Mito Domain respectively and gave Suruga Province, Totomi Province and Kai Province to his own son, Tadanaga TOKUGAWA. On the other hand, he deprived Tadateru MATSUDAIRA and Tadanao MATSUDAIRA, his adopted son-in-law of their status and exiled Masazumi HONDA, a tactician of Ieyasu. While he strictly tightened the controls on the Imperial Court, he arranged to have Kazuko TOKUGAWA, one of his daughters married with Emperor Gomizuno. He ordered that ports of call for foreign ships be limited to Hirado-ko Port and Nagasaki-ko Port in preparation for a national isolation policy.


In 1623, he handed over Shogunate to his legitimate son Iemitsu TOKUGAWA. Following the example of his father Ieyasu, he kept holding real power even after retirement and took the reins of Bakufu as Ogosho under a duarchy. Although he seems to have planned to attend to Bakufu affairs in Odawara-jo Castle following the example of Ieyasu who retired to Sunpu, he finally moved to the Nishi no maru (a castle compound to the west of the main compound) of the Edo-jo Castle (present Imperial Palace). For the Shie Incident which occurred in 1629 in his later years, he demonstrated a strict control of the Imperial Court and temples and shrines. In 1631, he confiscated Tadanaga's territories and placed him under house arrest, but around that time, he became indisposed and he died in early 1632.

According to "Tokugawa Jikki," Hidetada gave his last wishes to Iemitsu as below-mentioned.
As it has been only a short time since our family established our Bakufu, the official discipline and laws created so far are still incomplete and even though I intended to revise them, now it is unfortunately impossible, so after my death, you shall revise those without hesitation, it is a filial piety to pursue the same aims as myself.'

Ietsuna TOKUGAWA (the fourth Shogun), Tsunashige TOKUGAWA and Tsunayoshi TOKUGAWA (the fifth Shogun) were his grandchildren. Ienobu TOKUGAWA (the sixth Shogun) and Kiyotake MATSUDAIRA were his great-children. Ietsugu TOKUGAWA (the seventh Shogun) was his great-great-grandchild.

Record of offices and ranks held

* Date according to old lunar calendar

On August 8, 1587, he was granted Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) and appointed Jiju (a chamberlain) as Hidetada TOYOTOMI. He concurrently filled the position of Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain).

On January 5, 1588, he was promoted to Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) and concurrently filled the position of Musashi no kami (Governor of Musashi Province). He remained in the position of chamberlain. He resigned his position as Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain).

On January 5, 1590, he celebrated his coming of age. On December 29, he was promoted to Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and remained in the position of Jiju.

In 1591, he was promoted to Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and transferred to the position of Ukone no Gon no shosho (Provisional Minor Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards). On November 8, he was appointed Sangi (councilor) as Hidetada TOYOTOMI and concurrently filled the position of Ukone no Gon no chujo (Provisional Middle Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards).

On May 9, 1592, he was promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) as Hidetada TOYOTOMI and transferred to the position of Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state).

On February 13, 1594, he resigned his position as Gon Chunagon.

On March 28, 1601, he was transferred to the position of Gon Dainagon (provisional major counselor) as Hidetada TOYOTOMI.

On January 8, 1602, he was promoted to Junii (Junior Second Rank). He remained in the position of Gon Dainagon.

On April 16, 1603, he concurrently filled the position of Ukone no daisho (Major Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards).

On April 16, 1605, he was promoted as Hidetada TOYOTOMI to Shonii (Senior Second Rank) and transferred to the position of Naidaijin (the Minister of the Interior). He remained concurrently in the position of Ukone no daisho. On May 1, he was given the title of Seii-taishogun.

In 1606, he resigned the positions of Naidaijin and Ukone no daisho.

On March 9, 1614, he was promoted to Juichii (Junior First Rank) and transferred to the position of Udaijin (Minister of the Right).

On July 27, 1623, he resigned the position of Udaijin.

On August 19, 1626, he was transferred to the position of Daijo-daijin (Grand minister of state).

On January 24, 1632, he died (Kokyo [death of a man of upper than Third Rank]). He was posthumously conferred Shoichii (Senior First Rank).

* Whether he received the Senji (Imperial decree) as Hidetada TOYOTOMI, refer to "Law and economy in the medieval period in Japan" written by Isao Shimomura, issued by "Classified Documents, continued" completing committee in March 1998.

Graveyard and body

His Homyo (a posthumous Buddhist name) was 台徳院殿興蓮社徳譽入西大居士. His graveyard was Daitokuin Mausoleum which used to be located in a corner of Minato Ward, Tokyo, but it was burnt down during the War and in 1958, the Daitokuin Mausoleum was relocated and rebuilt at a place close to the main hall of Zojo-ji Temple. At that time, the body of Hidetada buried in the ground was cremated and reburied. In addition, an investigation was conducted on Hidetada's body, in which his body with his clothes and so on were found crushed by the weight pressure of coffin cover and pebbles in the ground. Furthermore, Hidetada's blood type was found to be ABO. About this particular investigation, refer to "Bones speak, Tokugawa Shogun and Daimyo families" and "Tombs of the Tokugawa Shogun families in Zojo-ji Temple and their articles left and bodies" written by Hisashi Suzuki.


His Uijin (first battle) was the Battle of Sekigahara. The Hidetada's troops at that time consisted of Tozama daimyo in Shinano Province and Fudai daimyo (hereditary vassal to the Tokugawa family) who had their territory along the Uesugi Nakasendo Road, according to a custom of troops which went through the road. However, regarding tactics to cope with the Ueda-jo Castle, there was a confrontation among vassals, which threw his troops into disarray. Although Hidetada finally accepted the opinions of Yasumasa and Tadachika on attacks, Fudai daimyo were not able to support Hidetada.

As soon as Ieyasu realized that Hidetada would not arrive in time, he discussed with Naomasa II and Tadakatsu HONDA if they should wait till Hidetada arrived or start battles. Tadakatsu was for the former and Naomasa for the latter. As Ieyasu accepted Naomasa's opinion, Hidetada's late arrival to Sekigahara became unavoidable at that moment.

In the Battle of Sekigahara, Hidetada led a large force of 38,000, however, when he attacked Shinshu Ueda-jo Castle in which only 2,000 soldiers holed up, he was soundly defeated by Masayuki SANADA. The heavy defeat at that time was described as 'Our troops were severely defeated and our casualties could not be counted' ("Ressoseiseki"). Due to the defeat, Ieyasu declined even to see Hidetada for a while after the Battle of Sekigahara and if he saw Hidetada, he is said to have given Hidetada a sharp rebuke.

At the time of departure for the front of Osaka Fuyu no Jin (Winter Siege of Osaka) in 1614, Hidetada left Edo-jo Castle on October 23 leading his troops. Hidetada made forced marches from Edo to Fushimi and arrived at the Fushimi-jo Castle on November 10 taking only 17 days, that is, arriving at Fujisawa-shuku Station on October 24, Mishima-shuku on October 26, Ejiri-juku on October 27, Kakegawa-juku on October 28 and Yoshida-juku on October 29. It made the officers and soldiers of the Hidetada's troops so exhausted that they were in no condition to engage in battle.

"Todaiki" (a famous chronicle describing the Early Modern age) described the situation at that time as below-mentioned.

On the 26th in Mishima.'
On the 27th in Shimizu.'
On the 28th in Kakegawa.'
On the 29th arrived at Yoshida.'
Leaving their followers behind, only 240 foot soldiers and 34 mounted warriors arrived at Shimizu racing after racing, abandoning their arms and personal effects.'

When Ieyasu was informed of it, he got infuriated and ordered Hidetada to have troops take a rest and march slowly.
According to Todaiki, when Hidetada arrived at Okazaki-shuku Station on November 1, Ieyasu is said to have sent a messenger to Hidetada to give a reprimand, 'It was too unthoughtful of you to lose many of your troops, who were supposed to reach Kyoto, by needlessly hurrying the way.'
However, Hidetada, in disregard of the Ieyasu's order, continued to go on a forced march arriving at Nagoya on November 2 and Hikone on November 5.
"Sunpuki" wrote that Ieyasu was 'very much offended by a long distance march by a large force.'

At the military ceremony held immediately before the Osaka Natsu no Jin (Summer Siege of Osaka), both Ieyasu and Hidetada insisted on leading the van. The battle was regarded an overall finish for Ieyasu, while it was a good chance to retrieve his lost honor for Hidetada. After all, as Hidetada was too adamant to make concessions, he led the van. However, on May 7 when an all-out attack was launched, it was Ieyasu that led the van at Tennoguchi which was the site of the hardest-fought battle, and Hidetada was not able to restore his impaired reputation.

"Tokugawa Jikki" (Tokugawa Chronicle) evaluated the personality of Hidetada TOKUGAWA as mentioned below.

There are many Kindachi (children) of Toshoko (Ieyasu).'
Okazaki Saburo gimi (Nobuyasu MATSUDAIRA), as well as Echizen Komon (Hideyasu YUKI) and Satsuma Chujo (Tadayoshi MATSUDAIRA) inherited their father's high military spirit.'
They were distinguished in their military services and clever strategy.'
On the other hand, Daitoin (Hidetada) dono was endowed with benevolence, filial piety and modesty from his childhood.
He respectfully obeyed his father's discipline for everything.'
He never disobeyed any of his father's instructions.'
He never behaved as selfishly as he pleased.'

Consequently, his elder brothers Nobuyasu and Hideyasu and his younger brother Tadayoshi were highly rated as great commanders with their military prowess and clever strategy. In fact, Nobuyasu was remarkably brave in battles, Hideyasu was recognized for his personality by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI and Tadayoshi distinguished himself in the final battle in Sekigahara by defeating Toyohisa SHIMAZU. On the other hand, Hidetada was poorly recognized for military prowess and clever strategy. However, since Hidetada was the second Shogun, the last half of the chronicle spoke in favor of him as a gentle person. However, even a history book by the Tokugawa clan itself lowly rated Hidetada as Busho.

However, at one time after the Osaka no Jin (The Siege of Osaka), when Hidetada was watching a Noh play with his brother Yoshinao TOKUGAWA, an earthquake occurred and people were about to panic. At that moment, he quickly instructed how to cope with the situation saying, 'It is quite a strong jolt, but the wall and roof show no signs of collapse -> It is safer not to move hastily' and held down the confusion and the damage. Even if his reputation as Busho was not favorable, his ability to command and observe the situation is thought to have received a passing mark.

There are some opinions which highly rate his competence as statesman who solidified the foundation of the Tokugawa Shogunate by preparing and establishing such relevant laws as Kuge Shohatto and Buke Shohatto. Hidetada fully attended to government affairs as Ogosho even after he handed over Shogunate to Iemitsu, as Ieyasu did so after he handed over Shogunate to Hidetada.
Chogoro KAIONJI commented as follows;
Ieyasu decided everything by himself.'
Hidetada fell short of that, but decided at least half by himself.'
Iemitsu left everything to his chief retainers.'

Hidetada is understood to have been a submissive husband who could not oppose to his Seishitsu (legal wife) Oe no kata. While it is widely accepted that he was not allowed to have Sokushitsu (Concubine) due to influence of his quick-tempered wife, it seems that Hidetada loved and respected Oe no kata and she was an attractive woman that much. When Hidetada only once had an affair with Jokoin, a maidservant in the Edo-jo Castle, he did not make Shizu (Jokoin) a formal Sokushitsu, fearful of being pursued by his legal wife. He did not see the child born (Masayuki HOSHINA) at all, gave the child to the Hoshina family as its heir and did not acknowledge Masayuki as his own biological child in Oe's lifetime.

[Original Japanese]