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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The era of Hidetada was essentially one of organization



Hidetada, third son of Ieyasu, was born in 1579; succeeded to the shogunate in 1605; abdicated in 1622, and died in 1632. His appearance on the historical stage was not very glorious, for, as already shown, when marching to join his father's army before the battle of Sekigahara, he allowed himself to be detained so long at the siege of Ueda Castle that he failed to be present at the great combat, and Ieyasu, as a mark of displeasure, refused to meet him until Honda Masazumi pleaded Hidetada's cause. During the first eleven years of his shogunate he exercised little real authority, the administration being conducted by Ieyasu himself from his nominal place of retirement in Sumpu. Thus, the period of Hidetada's independent sway extended over six years only. But during the ten subsequent years he continued to exercise much camera influence over the Government, though his power was inferior to that which had been wielded by Ieyasu in nominal retirement. Honda Masazumi, who had befriended him at the critical time mentioned above, occupied the highest post in the administration, the second place being assigned to Sakai Tadayo, while in Kyoto the Tokugawa interests were guarded by Itakura Katsushige and Matsudaira Masatsuna.

The era of Hidetada was essentially one of organization, and by the exercise of sincerity and justice he contributed much to the stability of the Tokugawa rule.

Not the least memorable step taken by him related to the fortress of Yedo. In the year following his succession, he ordered the feudatories of the east to construct the castle which remains to this day one of the marvels of the world. "Around it stretched a triple line of moats, the outermost measuring nine and a half miles in length, the innermost one and a half, their scarps constructed with blocks of granite nearly as colossal as those of the Osaka stronghold, though in the case of the Yedo fortification every stone had to be carried hundreds of miles over the sea. The gates were proportionately as huge as those at Osaka, well-nigh the most stupendous works ever undertaken, not excepting even the Pyramids of Egypt. There is not to be found elsewhere a more striking monument of military power, nor can anyone considering such a work, as well as its immediate predecessor, the Taiko's stronghold at Osaka, and its numerous contemporaries of lesser but still striking proportions in the principal fiefs, refuse to credit the Japanese with capacity for large conceptions and competence to carry them into practice."


It had been one of the most cherished wishes of Ieyasu to follow the Fujiwara precedent by establishing conjugal relations between the Imperial family and the Tokugawa. But the ex-Emperor, Go-Yozei, turned a deaf ear to this proposal on the ground that a lady born in a military house had never been chosen consort of a sovereign. Ieyasu, however, did not abandon his purpose. He entrusted its prosecution to Todo Takatora, and in 1616, the year of Ieyasu's death, Todo induced Konoe Nobuhiro, minister of the Right, to promote this undertaking. Nobuhiro, being the Emperor's younger brother, was able to exert much influence, and finally the ex-Emperor gave his consent. In June, 1620, Kazuko, daughter of Hidetada, became first lady-in-waiting, and ultimately Empress under the name of Tofuku-mon-in. It is recorded that 1180 chests were required to carry her trousseau from Yedo, and that the costs of her outfit and of her journey to Kyoto aggregated more than a million sterling. She gave birth to two princes and five princesses, and the house of Konoe, which had been instrumental in procuring her summons to the Court, became the leader of the Go-sekke.

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