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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Crossed the Kiso River into Mino


Two things were necessary, however, namely, a feasible route and a plausible pretext. Even in those times, when wars were often undertaken merely for the purpose of deciding personal supremacy, there remained sufficient public morality to condemn any baron who suffered himself to be guided openly by ambition alone. Some reasonably decent cause had to be found. Now the Emperor, though, as above stated, communicating his will verbally to Nobunaga, had not sent him any written commission. The necessary pretext was furnished, however, by the relations between the members of the Saito family of Mino province, which lay upon the immediate north of Owari, and constituted the most convenient road to Kyoto. Hidetatsu, the head of that family, had fought against Nobunaga's father, Nobuhide, and one of the conditions of peace had been that the daughter of Hidetatsu should become the wife of Nobunaga.

Subsequently, the Saito household was disturbed by one of the family feuds so common during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Japan. Hidetatsu, desiring to disinherit his eldest son, Yoshitatsu, had been attacked and killed by the latter, and Nobunaga announced his intention of avenging the death of his father-in-law. But before this intention could be carried out, Yoshitatsu died (1561), and his son, Tatsuoki, a man of little resource or ability, had to bear the onset from Owari. Nobunaga, at the head of a large force, crossed the Kiso River into Mino. But he found that, even under the leadership of Tatsuoki, the Mino men were too strong for him, and he was ultimately compelled to adopt the device of erecting on the Mino side of the river a fortress which should serve at once as a basis of military operations and as a place for establishing relations with the minor families in the province. The building of this fort proved a very difficult task, but it was finally accomplished by a clever device on the part of Hideyoshi, who, a master of intrigue as well as of military strategy, subsequently won over to Nobunaga's cause many of the principal vassals of the Saito family, among them being Takenaka Shigeharu, who afterwards proved a most capable lieutenant to Hideyoshi.

These preliminaries arranged, Nobunaga once more crossed the Kiso (1564) at the head of a large army, and after many days of severe fighting, captured the castle of Inaba-yama, which had been strongly fortified by Yoshitatsu, and was deemed impregnable. Nobunaga established his headquarters at this castle, changing its name to Gifu, and thus extending his dominion over the province of Mino as well as Owari. He had now to consider whether he would push on at once into the province of Omi, which alone lay between him and Kyoto, or whether he would first provide against the danger of a possible attack on the western littoral of Owari from the direction of Ise. He chose the latter course, and invaded Ise at the head of a considerable force. But he here met with a repulse at the hands of Kusunoki Masatomo, who to the courage and loyalty of his immortal ancestor, Masashige, added no small measure of strategical ability. He succeeded in defending his castle of Yada against Nobunaga's attacks, and finally the Owari general, deceived by a rumour to the effect that Takeda Shingen had reached the neighbourhood of Gifu with a strong army, retired hurriedly from Ise.


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