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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Instead of retaliating by direct impeachment of Ishida


EVENTS

IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO THE BATTLE OF SEKIGAHARA

The political complications that followed the death of the Taiko are extremely difficult to unravel, and the result is not commensurate with the trouble. Several annalists have sought to prove that Ieyasu strenuously endeavoured to observe faithfully the oath of loyalty made by him to Hideyoshi on the latter's death-bed. They claim for him that until his hands were forced he steadfastly and faithfully worked in the interests of Hideyoshi. But his acts do not lend themselves to any such interpretation. The best that can be said of him is that he believed himself to have been entrusted by the Taiko with discretionary power to determine the expediency of Hideyori's succession, and that he exercised that power in the interests of the Tokugawa family, not of the Toyotomi.

Circumstances helped him as they do generally help great men. From the time of the birth of the lady Yodo's second son, the official world in Kyoto had been divided into two factions. The Hidetsugu catastrophe accentuated the lines of division, and the Korean campaign had a similar effect by affording a field for bitter rivalry between the forces of Konishi Yukinaga, who belonged to the Yodo faction, and Kato Kiyomasa, who was a protege of Hideyoshi's wife, Yae. Further fuel was added to this fire of antagonism when the order went forth that the army should leave Korea, for the Kato faction protested

against surrendering all the fruits of the campaign without any tangible recompense, and the Konishi party insisted that the Taiko's dying words must be obeyed implicitly. In this dispute, Ishida Katsushige, the chief actor in the Hidetsugu tragedy, took a prominent part. For, when in their capacity as belonging to the Board of Five Administrators, Ishida and Asano Nagamasa were sent to Kyushu to superintend the evacuation of the Korean peninsula, they, too, fell into a controversy on the same subject. Ieyasu stood aloof from both parties. His policy was to let the feud develop and to step in himself at the supreme moment.

On the other hand, it was the aim of Ishida Katsushige to involve the Tokugawa chief, thus compassing his downfall and opening an avenue for the ascension of Ishida himself to the place of dictator. Allied with Ishida in this plot was his colleague on the Board of Five Administrators, Masuda Nagamori. Their method was to create enmity between Ieyasu and Maeda Toshiiye, to whom the Taiko had entrusted the guardianship of Hideyori and of the Osaka Castle. This design was barely thwarted by the intervention of Hosokawa Tadaoki (ancestor of the present Marquis Hosokawa). Ieyasu was well informed as to Ishida's schemes on two other occasions; the first immediately before, the second just after, the death of the Taiko. In each case rumours of an armed outbreak were suddenly circulated in Fushimi for the purpose of creating confusion such as might furnish an opportunity to strike suddenly at Ieyasu. These essays failed in both instances, and the Tokugawa chief, instead of retaliating by direct impeachment of Ishida, applied himself to cementing close relations with certain great daimyo by matrimonial alliances. Such unions had been implicitly interdicted by the Taiko, and the procedure of Ieyasu elicited a written protest from the boards of the Five Senior Ministers and the Five Administrators. They threatened Ieyasu with dismissal from the former board unless he furnished a satisfactory explanation. This he declined to do and for some time a very strained situation existed in Kyoto, an armed struggle being ultimately averted by the good offices of the Three Middle Ministers.


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