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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Being placed under the command of Mitsuhide


is evident from these words that the project of invading Korea and China was entertained by Hideyoshi nearly twenty years before--as will presently be seen--he attempted to carry it into practice. Hideyoshi marched in the first place to Harima, where his operations were so vigorous and so successful that Ukita Naoiye, who held the neighbouring provinces of Bizen and Mimasaka under the suzerainty of Mori Terumoto, espoused Nobunaga's cause without fighting. It is unnecessary to follow the details of the campaign that ensued. It lasted for five years, and ended in the subjection of as many provinces, namely, Harima, Tamba, Tango, Tajima, and Inaba. Hideyoshi then returned to Azuchi and presented to Nobunaga an immense quantity of spolia opima which are said to have exceeded five thousand in number and to have covered all the ground around the castle.


Shortly before Hideyoshi's triumphant return from his first brilliant campaign in the central provinces, a memorable event occurred in Kai. Nobunaga's eldest son, Nobutada, uniting his forces with those of Ieyasu, completely destroyed the army of Takeda Katsuyori at Temmoku-zan, in the province of Kai. So thorough was the victory that Katsuyori and his son both committed suicide. Nobunaga then gave the province of Suruga to Ieyasu, and divided Shinano and Kotsuke into manors, which were distributed among the Owari generals as rewards. Takigawa

Kazumasu was nominated kwanryo of the Kwanto, chiefly in order to watch and restrain the movements of the Hojo family, now the only formidable enemy of Nobunaga in the east.


After a brief rest, Hideyoshi again left Kyoto for the central provinces. He commenced operations on this second occasion by invading the island of Awaji, and having reduced it, he passed on to Bitchu, where he invested the important castle of Takamatsu, then under the command of Shimizu Muneharu. This stronghold was so well planned and had such great natural advantages that Hideyoshi abstained from any attempt to carry it by assault, and had recourse to the device of damming and banking a river so as to flood the fortress. About two miles and a half of embankment had to be made, and during the progress of the work, Mori Terumoto, who had been conducting a campaign elsewhere, found time to march a strong army to the relief of Takamatsu. But Terumoto, acting on the advice of his best generals, refrained from attacking Hideyoshi's army. He sought rather to invite an onset from Hideyoshi, so that, during the progress of the combat, the garrison might find an opportunity to destroy the embankment. Hideyoshi, however, was much too astute to be tempted by such tactics. He saw that the fate of the castle must be sealed in a few days, and he refrained from any offensive movement. But, in order to gratify Nobunaga by simulating need of his assistance, a despatch was sent to Azuchi begging him to come and personally direct the capture of the fort and the shattering of Terumoto's army.


Among Nobunaga's vassal barons at that time was Akechi Mitsuhide. A scion of the illustrious family of Seiwa Genji, Mitsuhide had served under several suzerains prior to 1566, when he repaired to Gifu and offered his sword to Nobunaga. Five years afterwards he received a fief of one hundred thousand koku and the title of Hyuga no Kami. This rapid promotion made him Nobunaga's debtor, but a shocking event, which occurred in 1577, seems to have inspired him with the deepest resentment against his patron. Mitsuhide, besieging the castle of Yakami in Tamba province, promised quarter to the brothers Hatano, who commanded its defence, and gave his own mother as hostage. But Nobunaga, disregarding this promise, put the Hatano brothers to the sword, and the latter's adherents avenged themselves by slaughtering Mitsuhide's mother. The best informed belief is that this incident converted Mitsuhide into Nobunaga's bitter enemy, and that the spirit of revenge was fostered by insults to which Nobunaga, always passionate and rough, publicly subjected Mitsuhide. At all events, when, as stated above, Hideyoshi's message of invitation reached Nobunaga at Azuchi, the latter gave orders for the despatch of a strong force to Takamatsu, one body, consisting of some thirty thousand men, being placed under the command of Mitsuhide. Nobunaga himself repaired to Kyoto and took up his quarters at the temple Honno-ji, whence he intended to follow his armies to the central provinces.

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