Chiba Tsunehide (千葉常秀)

Tsunehide CHIBA (the year of his birth and dead unknown) was a gokenin (an immediate vassal of the shogunate in the Kamakura and Muromachi through Edo periods) during the early Kamakura period. He was a child of Tanemasa CHIBA and a brother of Naritane CHIBA. His common name was Heiji SAKAI.
He was also referred to as 'Tsunehide SAKAI' or 'Tsunehide KAZUSA.'
He had sons, Hidetane CHIBA and Tokitsune CHIBA. He was the founder of the Chiba clan in Kazusa Province.


It is considered that his common name, 'Sakai' was derived from the fact that the foothold of the Chiba clan was located in the watershed of Sakai-gawa River, which is running through the outskirt of their base territory, Chiba no sho (the private estate of the Chiba clan); later he also reigned Habu no sho in Shimousa Province and Tamasaki no sho in Kazusa Province, and established his foothold at Oyanagi no tate (currently Mutsuzawa-cho, Chiba Prefecture) in Tamasaki no sho; he further expanded his territory to the opposite shore of Sakai-gawa River from Chiba no sho, Ichihara District in Kazusa Province. In 1184, he joined the army of MINAMOTO no Noriyori for the Battle of Jisho-Juei, and took part in various battles in Suo Province (now, a part of Yamaguchi Prefecture) and Bungo Province (now Oita Prefecture) with his grandfather, Tsunetane CHIBA, while they again took part in the Battle of Oshu (the area currently in Tohoku region) together by entering Taga-jo Castle in 1189. When MINAMOTO no Yoritomo headed to Kyoto in 1190, Tsunehide joined the force, and he was appointed to the new Hyoe-fu (Head quarters of the Middle Palace Guard) after his grandfather Tsunetane returned the position. Five years later, Tsunehide accompanied Yoritomo again as he went to Kyoto for participating in the inauguration ceremony of the rebuilt Great Buddha Hall of Todai-ji Temple. In 1200, he joined the procession of vassals that accompanied MINAMOTO no Yoriie visiting Tsuruoka Hachiman-gu Shrine. In 1203, he was appointed to Jisha-bugyo (magistrate of temples and shrines) of shogunal capital Kamakura along with OE no Chikahiro. In 1205, Tsunehide took part as the rear guard of the troops of Yoshitoki HOJO, which was organized to hunt down and kill a rebel, Shigetada HATAKEYAMA. In 1219, Tsunehide encountered the scene of MINAMOTO no Sanetomo being assassinated when he accompanied Sanetomo visiting Tsuruoka Hachiman-gu Shrine to make an address of gratitude to god for the bestowment of udaijin (minister of the right). In 1225, he was bestowed the rank of Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) and appointed to Shimousa no kami (Governor of Shimousa Province) along with Tomomasa KOYAMA, while he was later transferred to Kazusa no suke (Assistant Governor of Kazusa Province): he accompanied Yoritsune KUJO in joining the inauguration ceremony of Myoo-in Temple (in Kamakura City).

He surpassed his elder brother Naritane who succeeded the head of Chiba family, in terms of their official ranks; Tsunehide was promoted to Shimousa no kami, a higher rank to Naritane's Chiba no suke (assistant governor of Chiba Province, also called Shimousa no suke), while Tsunehide later achieved the position of Kazusa no suke, the highest rank official of Kazusa Kokuga (territories governed by provincial government office) designated as Shinno-ningoku (provinces whose gubernatorial posts were reserved as sinecures for imperial princes). According to the record of "Chiba Taikeizu (Genealogy of the Chiba Family)", Tsunehide was consequently appointed as Kazusa Shugo (the Governor of Kazusa Province); therefore, some suggests the possibility that he succeeded the head position of the Kazusa clan instead of the descendants of Hirotsune KAZUSA, who was killed by MINAMOTO no Yoritomo; but there is no reliable evidence to prove. While the year of his death is not specified, it is estimated to be around 1238 to 1241.

[Original Japanese]