TOKUGAWA IEYASU Biography - Royalty, Rulers & leaders


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Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543 - 1616)                                                                   
Tokugawa Ieyasu was born Matsudaira Takechiyo, the son of Matsudaira Hirotada (1526-1549),       
a relatively minor Mikawa lord who had spent much of his young life fending off                 
the military advances of the Oda and the political ploys of the Imagawa. The                     
question of accepting Imagawa rule had been a source of controversy within the                   
Matsudaira for many years, and had in fact contributed to the murder of Hirotada's               
father (Kiyoyasu) in 1536. Hirotada's own leanings towards the Imagawa, whom he                 
saw as the lesser of two evils, had driven a number of family members into the                   
arms of the Oda. To a great extent, Oda Nobuhide made his decision for him. In                   
1548 the Oda attacked Mikawa, and Hirotada turned to Imagawa Yoshimoto for                       
assistance. Yoshimoto was only too willing to throw the considerable weight of                   
the Imagawa in with Hirotada but on the condition that Hirotada's young son be                   
sent to Sumpu as a hostage. The decision was not an easy one, and prompted a                     
storm of protest within the Matsudaira, but in the end Hirotada agreed.                         
Takechiyo was duly prepared and sent off on the road east with a group of other                 
young men (also hostages but primarily present to serve Takechiyo).                             
Unfortunately, the wily Oda Nobuhide caught wind of the deal, and saw to it that                 
Takechiyo's entourage was intercepted on the road to Suruga. Takechiyo was                       
wisked away to Owari and confined to Kowatari Castle. While he was not badly                     
treated, Nobuhide threatened to put him to death unless Hirotada renounce his                   
ties with the Imagawa and ally with the Oda. Hirotada wisely elected to call his                 
Owari rival's bluff and made no response except to say that the sacrifice of his                 
own son could only impress upon the Imagawa his dedication to their pact.                       
Nobuhide was no doubt disappointed his scheme had not borne fruit, but did young                 
Takechiyo no harm. The following year, 1549, both Hirotada and Nobuhide passed                   
away, leaving the Matsudaira leaderless and the already splintered Oda weakened.                 
Imagawa wasted no time in capitalizing on this turn of events, and dispatched                   
his uncle, Sessai, with an army to attack the Oda's border castles. The primary                 
objective was Anjo, a former Matsudaira fort which presently housed Oda Nobuhiro,               
Nobuhide's eldest son and successor. Sessai, a reknowned warrior, surrounded                     
Anjo, and the fall of that place looked to be inevitable. Yet rather then press                 
home the assault, Sessai struck a bargain with Oda Nobunaga, Nobuhide's 2nd son.                 
Anjo - and Nobuhiro - would be spared in return for the release of Takechiyo.                   
Nobunaga had little choice but to agree, and Sessai returned to Suruga with                     
Takechiyo, who finally arrived in Sumpu after a year's delay.                                   
Takechiyo's life in the capital of the Imagawa would not be uncomfortable, but                   
for those Matsudaira kinsmen and retainers back in Mikawa, the following years                   
would be long and depressing. Happy to take advantage of the clan's sad state,                   
Yoshimoto saw to it that Imagawa men received important posts and forts within