Shibata Katsuie (柴田勝家)

Katsuie SHIBATA was a busho (Japanese military commander) and daimyo (Japanese feudal lord) who lived from the Sengoku period (period of warring states) (Japan) to the Azuchi-Momoyama period.

Period serving Nobuhide ODA

He was born in Kamiyashiro Village, Aichi County, Owari Province (present Meito Ward, Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture) in 1522 (there are also other theories). Some say the year of his birth was 1526 or 1527, which is unclear. His place of birth and father's name are unknown. It is believed that he was probably from a local ruling family.

He is said to have served as a vassal for Nobuhide ODA of Owari Province since he was young, and owned Shimoyashiro Village, Aichi County in Owari. Though his position is unknown, he was an important figure in the Oda family at the time of Nobunaga's succession. When Nobuhide died in 1551, he served as a chief retainer for his son Nobuyuki (Nobukatsu) ODA.

Period serving Nobukatsu ODA

At the battle against Nobutomo ODA, who was Shugodai (the acting Military Governor) governing the Owari shimo yongun (four counties of Nakashima, Aichi, Kaisa and Kaito) and the lord of Kiyosu-jo Castle, in 1552, he killed Jinsuke SAKAI, the chief retainer of the enemy side. In attack on Kiyosu-jo Castle in following year, he went into battle as a general, and killed 30 soldiers (Battle of Kayazu).

He maneuvered along with Hidesada HAYASHI to make Nobukatsu a successor of Nobuhide, and tried to eliminate Nobunaga ODA, an older brother of Nobukatsu. However, he was defeated in the battle against Nobunaga in September, 1556, took the tonsure and surrendered to Nobunaga (Battle of Ino). Following this, he started to have sympathy for Nobunaga, and when Nobukatsu made a plan to raise a rebellion in 1557, he is said to have tipped off Nobunaga beforehand, which drove Nobukatsu commit suicide. Nobusumi TSUDA, a son of Nobukatsu, was raised by Katsuie by order of Nobunaga.

Period serving Nobunaga ODA

After Nobukatsu died, he was forgiven for his offence and he became a vassal of Nobunaga. However, perhaps because he had taken sides with Nobukatsu and stood against Nobunaga, he was not used in Nobunaga's Owari unification war or the attack against the Mino Saito clan. He was again given important posts at the operation of advancing to the capital, then he always took part in Kinai (provinces surrounding Kyoto and Nara) suppression war and other wars (Battle of Shoryuji-jo Castle and so on) as one of the four spearheads of the Oda army, and he distinguished himself as a senior vassal of Nobunaga. He went back to Gifu with Nobunaga, but in January, 1569, he went to the capital again with Nobunaga at the time of the attack against the shogun Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA in Honkoku-ji Temple by Miyoshi sanninshu (three chief retainers of the Miyoshi clan) (Conspiracy of Honkoku-ji Temple), and he was in charge of the administration of Kyoto and Kinai as one of five officers until late April.

In February, 1570, Nobunaga made Yoshiaki accept the Josho (itemized document) to take over the authority of shogun, and in April, the Imperial Court gave him Tenka seihitsu ken (right to control the society under the order of the Emperor). In June, Yoshitaka ROKKAKU advanced to the south shore of Lake Biwa again, and shut the route to Gifu. Therefore he was deployed in Chokoji-jo Castle as one of the four busho in charge of the castle to secure the south shore; the battle started in July, and he and Nobumori SAKUMA fought them off.

In 1571, he took part in the first Siege of Nagashima, but he gave up attacking and pulled back due to the adverse state of the war. He was Shingari (the rear part of the army troops), but had a hard time and got injured, and the hatasashi-mono (battle flags) was taken away. Therefore Naomoto (Bokuzen) UJIIE replaced him, but was killed (Nagashima Ikko Ikki [an uprising of Ikko sect followers in Nagashima]).

In March, 1573, when Nobunaga and Shogun Yoshiaki were opposed to each other and soldiers garrisoned forts in Ishiyama and Imakatata, four busho including Katsuie attacked and defeated them. When Nobunaga departed for the front in May, Katsuie had the Kamigyo district, which opposed Nobunaga, burned to the ground as a commander in chief. However, Yoshiaki barricaded himself in Makishima-jo Castle, but was forced to surrender in the all-out battle in which 70 thousand soldiers, including Katsuie, fought. Before long, Yoshiaki was cast out and the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) fell. When Yoshiaki, who was protected by the Mori clan, built an anti-Nobunaga network, Katsuie fought in various places including Omi Province and Settsu Province as a powerful military commander of the Oda army.

At the attack against Yoshikage ASAKURA in Echizen in October, all the soldiers of the Nobunaga army were mobilized and destroyed him. He also took part in the attack against Nagamasa AZAI in Kitaomi, but Hideyoshi served as a spearhead. He took part in the Siege of Nagashima right after that, but he pulled back again.

In 1574, he took part in the third Siege of Nagashima. He commanded the right wing among the three groups along with Nobumori SAKUMA. He took the fort and pushed the enemy back to the castle, and in March when they accepted mediation following a starvation policy, he opened fire and had his soldiers attack them before erecting barricades and burning the remaining 20,000 peasants to death.

He also took part in the Battle of Nagashino in 1575.

After the destruction of the Asakura clan, Nobunaga assigned Yoshitsugu MAEBA, an old retainer of Asakura, as Shugo (a provincial military governor). Nagashige TOMITA, also a former retainer of Asakura, brought the Ikko Ikki (Ikko sect revolt) into the internal strife and killed Maeba, but the revolt force killed Tomita as well, and took control of Echizen Province. Nobunaga led his army into battle and subdued the Ikko Ikki. Katsuie was given eight counties of Echizen Province with 490 thousand koku (crop yields) and Fukui-jo Castle (in present Fukui City). On this occasion, yoriki (police sergeants) such as Toshiie MAEDA, Narimasa SASA and Mitsuharu FUWA were provided for him, and he was put in charge of subduing Kaga Province, which had been in the possession of the Ikki for 90 years, and became the commander in chief in the Hokuriku area.

In 1577, Kenshin UESUGI from Echigo Province invaded Kaga Province. Katsuie went to rescue Nanao-jo Castle, but he didn't make it in time and the castle fell, and he was attacked by Kenshin UESUGI at the Tetori-gawa River while withdrawing.

However, when Kenshin died in 1578, Shingoro SAITO, a commander in Nobutada ODA's army, drove the Uesugi army out of the middle of Ecchu. In March, 1580, as soon as Nobunaga and Hongan-ji Temple made peace, the Hokuriku area became active, and Katsuie attacked and destroyed Kanazawa Mido (hall), the control tower of the Ikko Ikki, and moved his army up to the border of Ecchu in northern Kaga. In December, 1580, he brought the Ikko Ikki in Kaga under control, and then broke into Noto Province and Ecchu Province.

In the following year of 1581, Katsuie went to Kyoto and participated in the Kyoto Umazoroe (military parade) held by Nobunaga, taking people from Echizen including Toshiie MAEDA.

In 1582, when he was besieging the Uesugi clan's Uozu-jo Castle and Matsukura-jo Castle in Ecchu Province (Uozu City, Toyama Province), the Honnoji Incident occurred and Nobunaga ODA died a violent death. However, Katsuie was interrupted by bringing the eastern part of Ecchu Province under control due to Kagekatsu UESUGI's counterattack, which prevented him from going to Kyoto.


After the Honnoji Incident, Katsuie pushed Nobutaka ODA, the third son of Nobunaga for the successor of the Oda clan, but Hideyoshi HASHIBA (Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI), who had a major achievements and influence as a result of subduing Mitsuhide AKECHI, backed Sanboshi (Hidenobu ODA), the legitimate grandson of Nobunaga, so the reigns of the Oda clan were transferred to Sanboshi. While Hideyoshi gained the territories of Kawachi Province, Tanba Province and Yamashiro Province when Nobunaga's property inheritance was allocated, Katsuie only received three counties in Kitaomi and Nagahama-jo Castle (Omi Province) (present Nagahama City), which reversed the positions of Katsuie and Hideyoshi (Kiyosu Conference). Katsuie subsequently married Lady Oichi through the intermediation of Hideyoshi HASHIBA (though it was once said that this intermediation was by Nobutaka, it is widely accepted that it was through Hideyoshi due to his letter of intermediation).

Following this, Katsuie opposed Hideyoshi, joining hands with Kazumasu TAKIGAWA and Nobutaka ODA, but he lost against Hideyoshi at the Battle of Shizugatake in 1583, and he and Oichi killed themselves in Kitanosho in Echizen. He died at the age of 62.
His death poem was: 'My life was like an empty dream in a summer night. Little cuckoo, fly high above the clouds to hand down my name to posterity.'

His family temples are Saiko-ji Temple in Fukui City, Fukui Prefecture and Bangaku-ji Temple in Takashima City, Shiga Prefecture. His Buddhist mortuary tablet still exists.

He was posthumously bestowed the rank of Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) by the Kunaisho (Ministry of the Sovereign's Household) on November 10, 1928.

Personal profile and anecdotes

Although he was a figure who once stood against Nobunaga, Nobunaga praised Katsuie's military tactics and had strong faith in him. It is even said that Katsuie's loyalty to Nobunaga was absolute.

Although the image that he didn't get along with Hideyoshi has generally been established, it is said that he gave his own soldiers to Hideyoshi in a battle. However, the feud after the Kiyosu conference could not be reconciled.

Although Katsuie asked Oichi to flee the castle right before their suicide, Oichi refused to run away again as she did after the fall of Asai-jo Castle.

Katsuie was well known for his exploits in battles throughout his lifetime, but he was also an excellent politician who was said to govern fairly and rule the territories well. It is believed that this was why he owned the most territories of the Oda family.

Although Katsuie left many great achievements, he was a little too mild how he managed others; his colleague Hideyoshi HASHIBA and his subordinate Morimasa SAKUMA ignored his military orders and acted arbitrarily; he tolerated the betrayal of Toshiie MAEDA, who was a subordinate daimyo, when he switched to the Hideyoshi side.

There is a theory that it was Katsuie, not Hideyoshi, who conducted the Sword Hunt for the first time. Katsuie had the collected swords made into new farming equipment and nails.

He was essentially rough, and he was also called Oni (demon) Shibata or Kakare (cry for offensive) Shibata.

It is said that he was called Binwari (jar crushing) Shibata because he crushed a water jar and encouraged his troops by shouting 'Men, it is the honor of a samurai to die on the battlefield rather than to die of thirst, so remember, the water you just had was your matsugo-no-mizu (water of the last moment)!' to approach the resistance by burning their boats while holding Choko-ji Castle (this is believed to be a later creation).

It is said that Toshiie MAEDA said 'Shuri (Katsuie) SHIBATA has boasted about 24 military exploits since he served for Nobunaga' (Bukejiki [Factual chronicle of the military families]).

Luis FROIS mentioned that 'he was one of the two important generals of Nobunaga.'

After he lost at the Battle of Shizugatake, he did not blame Toshiie MAEDA, who withdrew earlier, and said 'You can rely on Hideyoshi from now on.' to Toshiie.

[Original Japanese]