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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Saru wrote:
I really enjoyed reading this thread. A big thank you to Obenjo Kusanosuke for posting this and keeping it alive as well as everyone else who contributed.

Thank you, Saru! I appreciate it!

In terms of the Sengoku period, think of it as a time of opportunism and calculated risk taking or just plain old gambling. Daimyo would see what they thought was an opportunity and simply go for it. Nobunaga had a lot of factors fall into place properly and was shrewd enough to know how to play his cards properly.

Nobody will never know what really motivated Mitsuhide, but my best guess is that like other Sengoku daimyo, he saw what he thought was his chance and went for it. I would not look into it too deeply into or try to romanticize his motivations. Stories like resentment over his mother's death, or other slights are the product of Edo period inventions to try to provide some logical reason as to why Mitsuhide did the "unthinkable thing"-- to rise against his liege lord, which is a supreme no-no in Confucian-steeped Edo culture. Rising against one's lord was all too common in Japan as the Onin War destabilized the status quo and the country descended into the Sengoku period. Disloyalty became a cardinal sin in the Edo period, as the Tokugawa promulgated Confucian thought as a tool to help stabilize and legitimize their rule.

In regards to Ashikaga Yoshiaki, Nobunaga did not just simply dispose of him when he first entered Kyoto, as he had value and Nobunaga needed this. Yoshiaki lent Nobunaga legitimacy and also gave Nobunaga the introductions he needed to the court and other important players to build his own connections and legitimacy. Once Nobunaga had these things, Yoshiaki's position became tenuous. And by the time Yoshiaki realized that his "servant" had become the "master" and acted upon it by supporting anti-Nobunaga coalitions, his fate was sealed.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Saru wrote:
I've only recently gotten interested in the period again by listening to the excellent SA Archives podcast.


Those guys are hacks.

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As shrewd a daimyo as he was, I can't help but think he lucked out in a couple of ways.....but it seems as though Nobunaga's good fortune had just as much to do with his rise to power as his political and martial prowess.


As does every "victor" in all of history. Nobody wins when every break goes against them. Winners take advantage of their strengths and opportunities.

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On top of that, he also owed his expansion into Mino to the instability there after Saito Dosan's death. Had he gone up against a Uesugi Kenshin or a Mori Motonari closer to home rather than a destabilized daimyo, his ascendancy might have been significantly delayed, if not stopped. Granted, a lot of daimyo were unstable during the Sengoku period, but as noted above, there were plenty of daimyo who had to contend with powerful local rivals before they could even think about unification.


Ah, this is the "Takeda Shingen would have done it if only he hadn't have had to deal with Uesugi Kenshin" argument. Perhaps. Perhaps not. No way to prove it, and it operates under the assumption that Shingen (or any other daimyo) had that as his desired goal, which is pure conjecture. Nobunaga had good circumstances, but he also took steps from early on to make marching on Kyoto and national unification a goal. You don't move towards that without wanting it, no matter what luck dumps in your lap.

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Why didn't he depose Ashikaga Yoshiaki before he did? Why did he seek to control Yoshiaki from 1568 to 1573 when, ultimately, keeping Yoshiaki around backfired in the establishment of anti-Oda coalitions and a source of legitimacy for anti-Oda feeling? In essence, it seems as though Nobunaga would have been better off tearing down the old institutions (if it was really never his intention to position himself as a continuation of the shogunate) than trying to "steer" it for as long as he did.


You really need to read Japonius Tyrannus by Jeroen Lamers to answer this question. Lamers makes a very convincing case that Nobunaga didn't intend to "depose" Yoshiaki at all, and gave him every chance to patch things up. The break was instigated by Yoshiaki, not Nobunaga, several times. It didn't "backfire" at all, because nobody became "anti-Nobunaga" because of a break with Yoshiaki. They were all already anti-Nobunaga, and Yoshiaki, seeing this, decided he had enough external support against Nobunaga to break with him and coordinate operations against him. Sadly for him, there was very little coordination between anti-Nobunaga factions, and it didn't work.

He couldn't have "torn down" any institutions in 1568, he didn't have the personal prestige and power base to do so. He didn't have that until 1573, at which point he'd defeated the Asai/Asakura and pressure was off of him due to Shingen's death. It really took until 1575, when he'd defeated the Takeda at Nagashino, the Ikko Ikki in Echizen, etc. before the court was fully behind him as central authority. You misunderstand the nature of power relationships in Japan at this time. Lamers is really an excellent source to explain all this.


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Should Nobunaga have been so confident that the Azai would honor the marriage between his sister and Nagamasa and not side with the Asakura when he went to war against the latter? According to the SA Wiki and the Azai Sandai-ki, it sounds as though the Azai almost instantly decided to honor its "generations-old" alliance with the Asakura instead. It's possible Nobunaga knew that he could beat both, but then again Anegawa seems to have been a near run thing at points.


Or, he simply miscalculated and misjudged Nagamasa. I lean towards that.

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I have tremendous respect for Nobunaga (and not just for the line of figure skaters he founded). However, I think his reputation is a bit inflated. Gifu castle and "Tenka Fubu" all suggest he had ambitions to end the civil war period, but I think it was equal parts genius and "right place/right time" that got him to where he was by the time he died.


As I said before, anyone who succeeds like he did has "right place/right time" luck on their side. He was shot twice--we wouldn't be talking about him if either of those were fatal. Hell, it was pretty amazing he even gained control of his own family, looking at the situation in Owari after his father's death. Not sure how that minimizes his accomplishments or historical impact in anyway. That's like saying a sports team doesn't deserve the championship because they got "lucky" the other team fumbled the ball. The winning team takes advantage of those opportunities. Nobunaga picked up the ball and scored.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Domer hit on the head explaining the situation with the Evil shogun Yoshiaki. Nobunaga gave him every chance, but Yoshiaki was not up to it. Once the tide tilted towards the Uesama's favor, he went full steam ahead. Nobunaga even had the chance to make Yoshiaki cut his belly, but changed his mind and said, "Let future generations be my judge." He eventually banished lame Yoshiaki which the high and low called him the Beggar Shogun.

As Domer mentioned, Lamers goes into great detail and those who own a copy of the English Shincho-Ko ki does as well.

Sugitani Zenjubo had the perfect opportunity to kill Nobunaga, but failed in 1570 and paid the price in 1573. Very Happy He was shot in the leg at Tennoji in 1576. at times, luck is need.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obviously people and movements in history don't get to choose their circumstances; we are all helped or hindered by fortune to some degree or another. It just strikes me how lucky Nobunaga really was for his gamble against the Imagawa to pay off, not to mention the advantages his geographic location gave him. So I'm not faulting him when I say luck played a large role in some of his victories, including his first and most significant one. While more of a political scientist than a historian, I personally believe that political, economic and cultural structures have more to do with the unfolding of human drama than the choices people make; to paraphrase Marx, Oda Nobunaga made history, but he did not make it as he pleased.

Putting aside the whole issue of structure versus agency, I still turn a critical eye to some of his decisions.

In regards to Yoshiaki... Granted, as Obenjo Kusanosuke said (and as the guys on the podcast pointed out as well), Nobunaga needed a pretext to occupy Kyoto and coming to the aid of the shogun served that end. And while I need to read Lamers in addition to this thread, I see that it was a case of each man using the other, and that it was Yoshiaki's attempts to actually have both his title and the power associated with it that led to their relationship unraveling. I also think it's an excellent point that Nobunaga did not have the status in 1568 he later had when his rivals were dead or defeated.

Nevertheless, once he had the capital in his hands, what was to stop him from creating his own shogunate and exiling Yoshiaki, regardless of whether Yoshiaki was going to be a docile puppet or not? I think once he provided the pretext for the march on the capital, he had served his purpose and would, in time, only have offered his legitimacy to other warlords. Yes, I realize that other daimyo did not need Yoshiaki's appeals to have anti-Oda sentiments, but if Nobunaga had discredited the Ashikaga shogunate by establishing his own rival shogunate with the Emperor's blessing (which, pardon my ignorance, does not seem like it would be hard to obtain, knowing what I know from Berry about how the Imperial household depended on Nobunaga's riches). Other people in this thread have stated that they believe Nobunaga's greater ambition was to set himself up as an absolute authority over Japan anyway. It just seems to me that if you're going to have some sort of major revolution in the political order like that, it hurts you rather than helps you to keep the institutions you'd like to replace around as a stopgap measure; just look at Egypt and how little actual power Morsi actually grabbed in his power grab. The military, the bureaucracy... These institutions remain essentially the same.

As for the Azai... Nobunaga may have miscalculated, but the warnings were there. Nagamasa told him up front to consult with him if the Oda were going to attack the Asakura and Nobunaga didn't. He must have been aware that there was this historical alliance between the Azai and the Asakura and that a nascent marriage alliance and some warm letters weren't going to override that.

Lastly, in regards to Mitsuhide... Yeah, I don't want to romanticize his intentions, whether or not he was getting revenge, attempting to realize ambitions, or both. Still, I think like most people I want to learn the lessons from history so it makes sense to want to understand why Mitsuhide betrayed Nobunaga and why Nobunaga put Mitsuhide in a position to betray him. The thesis mentioned earlier about Mitsuhide makes an excellent appeal to research the former question, although the latter is probably more relevant to this thread.

In terms of wise decisions, Nobunaga keeping his inner circle limited to his Owari comrades was a smart move because they shared a common history in terms of location and time spent together. Tokugawa Ieyasu, as a lord himself, brought troops and supplies to the table. But I'm not seeing the reason for why Mitsuhide was allowed in, given how different he was in background, outlook, etc. Leaders depend on the performances of their subordinates, and after studying U.S. presidents and world leaders in comparative perspective, it's relationship with Mitsuhide that is the most baffling to me.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Saru wrote:
While more of a political scientist than a historian, I personally believe that political, economic and cultural structures have more to do with the unfolding of human drama than the choices people make; to paraphrase Marx, Oda Nobunaga made history, but he did not make it as he pleased.


And this is my problem with Marxism. It's a mix between the two--you can't say that any other person in Nobunaga's circumstances would have done the same thing. One change at any point would have altered the course, and therefore the choices available and made in the future. Marxism and other schools of historical and/or political thought try to minimize the agency of the individual to avoid "great man" syndrome or to demonstrate that their expected endstate is the inevitable result of history. The bottom line, and feel free to disagree, is that there is no inevitable result of history. Human agency is confined to the choices available through cultural/political structures, but those structures are created through human agency.

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Nevertheless, once he had the capital in his hands, what was to stop him from creating his own shogunate and exiling Yoshiaki, regardless of whether Yoshiaki was going to be a docile puppet or not? I think once he provided the pretext for the march on the capital, he had served his purpose and would, in time, only have offered his legitimacy to other warlords


Because possession of the capital was not the be-all, end-all guarantor of power, as Miyoshi Chokei and Matsunaga Hisahide could have told you. Not only did Yoshiaki give Nobunaga a pretext for taking the capital, he gave him a continuing pretext to HOLD it, and to continue to strengthen his power. Again, it isn't as if he had the ability in 1568, after marching into Kyoto, to say "well, I don't need you anymore, off with you" to Yoshiaki. He very much needed him. Look at the territory Nobunaga controlled in 1568: Owari, Mino, Mikawa (under Ieyasu), and a thin line of communication from Mino through Omi to Kyoto. That's it. His stategic and operational situation was tenuous. It's doubtful at best that he could have held onto Kyoto on his own without Yoshiaki's legitimacy.


Quote:
Yes, I realize that other daimyo did not need Yoshiaki's appeals to have anti-Oda sentiments, but if Nobunaga had discredited the Ashikaga shogunate by establishing his own rival shogunate with the Emperor's blessing (which, pardon my ignorance, does not seem like it would be hard to obtain, knowing what I know from Berry about how the Imperial household depended on Nobunaga's riches).


Don't confuse what he was able to do in 1575 and later with the situation in 1568. He COULDN'T discredit the Ashikaga shogunate by establishing his own; he didn't have either the military or political capital to do so. Yes, Berry talks about how the Imperial household was depending on Nobunaga's riches--riches that he did not have in 1568, but only after he established authority over Kyoto, Sakai, and points in-between. He did this based on the fact that he represented Yoshiaki until 1573, by which point he'd demonstrated to the court over five years that he was the real power, not Yoshiaki. The court wouldn't have given him diddly squat in 1568, and he couldn't have supported them in 1568.


Quote:
Other people in this thread have stated that they believe Nobunaga's greater ambition was to set himself up as an absolute authority over Japan anyway. It just seems to me that if you're going to have some sort of major revolution in the political order like that, it hurts you rather than helps you to keep the institutions you'd like to replace around as a stopgap measure;


Why are you assuming he wanted a "major revolution" in the political order? Wanting to establish authority is one thing--there were mechanisms in place for him to do that WITHOUT a "major revolution" in the political order. All discussion about whether he could do it in 1568 or not aside, there's no indication from either earlier or later in his career that he intended to establish a "major revolution" and reshape the mechanics of political control. You seem to have a very simplistic view of how the system worked. It wasn't a case of having the biggest army in Kyoto, so you could compel the court to make you Shogun.

Frankly, the idea that "Shogun" is the highest title available is an Edo-period conception that was not the case at Nobunaga's time. Kampaku was actually higher on the totem pole. Nobunaga was offered his choice of titles in 1582, and died before he gave his answer. We'll never know what he would have chosen. But the fact that he was offered the titles in 1582, not in 1568, should indicate to you that kicking out Yoshiaki in 1568 wasn't an option--Nobunaga simply didn't have the cache with the court he would have needed. As it is, Lamers shows that Nobunaga wasn't particularly interested or concerned with titles--he rejects them from the court several times, as he didn't want to be beholden to the court more than necessary. To me, this confirms that his interest was in actual governing power, not whatever title was needed to justify it. Hence, it fits with his treatment of Yoshiaki--he didn't need to supplant Yoshiaki, because he didn't see the need to take the title of Shogun for himself.

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As for the Azai... Nobunaga may have miscalculated, but the warnings were there. Nagamasa told him up front to consult with him if the Oda were going to attack the Asakura and Nobunaga didn't. He must have been aware that there was this historical alliance between the Azai and the Asakura and that a nascent marriage alliance and some warm letters weren't going to override that.


Yes, he probably new about the alliance. He acted anyways. Either he ignored it, or he didn't lend it enough credence, or he misjudged Nagamasa. We can sit here and monday morning quarterback the actions of every historical actor, but it doesn't do a ton of good in this case. There's no historical lesson here--he simply miscalculated. For whatever reason, he didn't see it coming. It happens.


Quote:
In terms of wise decisions, Nobunaga keeping his inner circle limited to his Owari comrades was a smart move because they shared a common history in terms of location and time spent together. Tokugawa Ieyasu, as a lord himself, brought troops and supplies to the table. But I'm not seeing the reason for why Mitsuhide was allowed in, given how different he was in background, outlook, etc. Leaders depend on the performances of their subordinates, and after studying U.S. presidents and world leaders in comparative perspective, it's relationship with Mitsuhide that is the most baffling to me.


For someone who studies politics, you're not thinking about it at all. Mitsuhide was a CONNECTOR. Think about how they met--Mitsuhide was an intermediary for Yoshiaki, attempting to elicit support. Mitsuhide had connections in Kyoto. He had connections in Echizen. He had connections in Mino. He was an accomplished poet and tea practitioner, which were politically important because of who they put you in touch with. He was a political asset, who oh by the way could also command troops, was by all accounts a pretty good engineer, and competent administrator. Yes, the Owari band was the core of Nobunaga's strength, but Mitsuhide gave him what he couldn't get from that group--someone who knew and understood the workings of Kyoto society, and could GET HIM IN beyond what his army could.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:
And this is my problem with Marxism. It's a mix between the two--you can't say that any other person in Nobunaga's circumstances would have done the same thing. One change at any point would have altered the course, and therefore the choices available and made in the future. Marxism and other schools of historical and/or political thought try to minimize the agency of the individual to avoid "great man" syndrome or to demonstrate that their expected endstate is the inevitable result of history. The bottom line, and feel free to disagree, is that there is no inevitable result of history. Human agency is confined to the choices available through cultural/political structures, but those structures are created through human agency.


I don't want to turn this thread into one about Marxism, but suffice it to say that neither Marx nor Marxist historians felt that there was some sort of mechanical process to human history and that human agency counts for nothing. That, on the face of it, contradicts the very real actions taken by the bourgeoisie to attain their position under capitalism as well as what he predicted the proletariat would do to bring about communism. Indeed, the quote I am paraphrasing is that "human beings make history, but not as they please."

It's more accurate to say that Marxism is deterministic. Part of "determine" comes from "terminus," meaning a limitation or boundary. People have freedom, but that freedom is constrained by structural forces beyond their control. I do in fact disagree that human agency is the primary driving force of history; things like geography and resource allocation have a huge impact on which civilizations rise and fall, which countries become core states and others become periphery ones, etc. Everyone from Immanuel Wallerstein to Jared Diamond recognizes this to be true.

It's fair to say that Oda Nobunaga, like Hideyoshi and Ieyasu, was a "great man." For all the dumb luck of victories like Okehazama there were also well-conceived victories like Nagashino. Up until his death, he managed to defeat his rivals and rose up to the ranks until he was able to send out his subordinates to fight his wars for him. But, again, none of this detracts from the fact he made some pretty serious errors along the way and benefited more than once from fortune beyond his control or intentions.

Quote:
Again, it isn't as if he had the ability in 1568, after marching into Kyoto, to say "well, I don't need you anymore, off with you" to Yoshiaki. He very much needed him. Look at the territory Nobunaga controlled in 1568: Owari, Mino, Mikawa (under Ieyasu), and a thin line of communication from Mino through Omi to Kyoto. That's it. His stategic and operational situation was tenuous. It's doubtful at best that he could have held onto Kyoto on his own without Yoshiaki's legitimacy.


Yet, for all that legitimacy, the power struggle between him and Yoshiaki began almost immediately after he arrived in Kyoto. Things went south as early as 1569 and Nagahara Keiji has argued that Yoshiaki was already at that point working with the Azai, Asakura, Takeda and the Honganji. By 1573, Nobunaga was openly threatening Yoshiaki and went so far as to burn down part of Kyoto, with Yoshiaki ultimately exiled to Wakae castle.

I think you could say that it was after Nagashino that Nobunaga was the undisputed warlord among warlords. Yet Yoshiaki forced Nobunaga's hand years before his decisive victory over the Takeda. If his position was so precarious, you'd expect Nobunaga to be more prudent in his handling of Yoshiaki if his position in Kyoto depended on Yoshiaki's support. Even if you argue that Nobunaga was totally blameless in how he treated Yoshiaki, it is hard to dispute that Nobunaga did not hold back when the kid gloves were off.

Bottom line, it seems to me that Nobunaga felt that his authority was supreme over all others and Yoshiaki did not have the ingredients to be a docile puppet. In such a situation, it would have been far better for Nobunaga to have removed the stone from his shoe in 1569 or 1570 when the first major falling out happened rather than let it fester. As you yourself said, rival clans had plenty of reason to be anti-Oda without Yoshiaki adding credibility to their plots; it seems kind of dubious that, once he had Kyoto, the only thing standing between Nobunaga and losing the capital was Yoshiaki's ostensible support.

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Yes, Berry talks about how the Imperial household was depending on Nobunaga's riches--riches that he did not have in 1568, but only after he established authority over Kyoto, Sakai, and points in-between. He did this based on the fact that he represented Yoshiaki until 1573, by which point he'd demonstrated to the court over five years that he was the real power, not Yoshiaki. The court wouldn't have given him diddly squat in 1568, and he couldn't have supported them in 1568.


Granted, Nobunaga wasn't as economically strong in 1568 as he would later be, but the court asked Nobunaga to restore imperial estates in 1564 and again in 1567, after he took Mino. After all, the court was so poor during this period that Emperor Ogimachi's enthronement was delayed three years.

Again, granted, a lot of daimyo received imperial orders to restore estates, but Nobunaga not only tended to respect these orders but also made donations to repair the imperial palace in 1569 and 1571, according to the Shincho-ko Ki. It's pretty clear that Nobunaga was keeping the court in the lifestyle to which it had become accustomed well before 1575.

You could make the argument that Nobunaga did these things out of love for the court rather than manipulation, but this contradicts his taking power away from the emperor to adjudicate between Buddhist temples, his appointing several vassals to keep the court under watch, etc.

Theories that Nobunaga wanted to overthrow imperial rule itself don't seem to be entirely supported, but I did read somewhere that he adopted an imperial prince as his heir. Essentially it seems as though Nobunaga had as many machinations in place for the court as he did for undermining the Ashikaga shogunate. Given this and the relative weakness of both the court and Yoshiaki, it's still difficult for me to fathom why he didn't neutralize Yoshiaki sooner, set up his own bakufu and assert clear dominance over the court (if you argue that he was dancing a cautious dance with them immediately after 1568 rather than rushing in to be their sugar daddy).

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You seem to have a very simplistic view of how the system worked. It wasn't a case of having the biggest army in Kyoto, so you could compel the court to make you Shogun.

...But the fact that he was offered the titles in 1582, not in 1568, should indicate to you that kicking out Yoshiaki in 1568 wasn't an option--Nobunaga simply didn't have the cache with the court he would have needed. As it is, Lamers shows that Nobunaga wasn't particularly interested or concerned with titles--he rejects them from the court several times, as he didn't want to be beholden to the court more than necessary. To me, this confirms that his interest was in actual governing power, not whatever title was needed to justify it. Hence, it fits with his treatment of Yoshiaki--he didn't need to supplant Yoshiaki, because he didn't see the need to take the title of Shogun for himself.


I totally grasp the concept that it wasn't as easy as the Emperor declaring you shogun, thereby granting you magical powers to pacify the land. The fact that Nobunaga refused titles to keep himself autonomous from Yoshiaki and patronized the court to use it as a tool for his own interests is well-documented. Indeed, Nobunaga was, early on after taking Kyoto, equating his interests with the good of the realm and essentially seeing his goals as the goals of the entire country. When he ordered other daimyo to come to Kyoto to pay their respects in 1570, it was clear he was asking them to recognize their subordination to him.

When I suggest he should have taken the shogunate for himself and made clear his position relative to the court, that has everything to do with removing mobility for Yoshiaki to undermine him and intrigue against him. It merely would have made de jure what was already a de facto reality -- and the disagreement between us seems to stem more from when Nobunaga was consolidated in Kyoto than anything else.

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Yes, he probably new about the alliance. He acted anyways. Either he ignored it, or he didn't lend it enough credence, or he misjudged Nagamasa. We can sit here and monday morning quarterback the actions of every historical actor, but it doesn't do a ton of good in this case. There's no historical lesson here--he simply miscalculated. For whatever reason, he didn't see it coming. It happens.


I don't think there is any historical merit in looking at the decisions made by historical leaders, shrugging and saying, "It happens." There is a wealth of literature in political science alone surrounding why leaders and institutions make the decisions they do. It's not about "Monday morning QBing" but about attempting to learn lessons about governance, strategy and leadership from historical figures who excelled in those areas. There would be no study of history if there was no interest in learning lessons from it.

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For someone who studies politics, you're not thinking about it at all. Mitsuhide was a CONNECTOR. Think about how they met--Mitsuhide was an intermediary for Yoshiaki, attempting to elicit support. Mitsuhide had connections in Kyoto. He had connections in Echizen. He had connections in Mino. He was an accomplished poet and tea practitioner, which were politically important because of who they put you in touch with. He was a political asset, who oh by the way could also command troops, was by all accounts a pretty good engineer, and competent administrator. Yes, the Owari band was the core of Nobunaga's strength, but Mitsuhide gave him what he couldn't get from that group--someone who knew and understood the workings of Kyoto society, and could GET HIM IN beyond what his army could.


Surely there were others in Kyoto society he could have called on, other talented generals, others familiar with the tea ceremony...? Surely he could have found those people and NOT entrusted them to the degree that he trusted Mitsuhide? Even if all his talents and knowledge made him an exceptionally useful personage, why bring him into the inner circle? Why tolerate him when he so clearly butted heads with others in the inner circle, including Nobunaga himself? Obviously there were benefits to bringing in a more intellectual, effete figure into the Oda upper echelons, but I guess I'm still missing the "je ne sais quois" that made Nobunaga mistakenly trust Mitsuhide to the degree that he did.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote from Saru’s last post:
“For all the dumb luck of victories like Okehazama”

Okehazama in my view was by no means “dumb luck”. Once Imagawa decided to march to Kyoto and pass by Nobunaga’s domain, Nobunaga had a few options when assessing the situation he was about to be faced with:
1. Bow down to Imagawa and hope his head is not rolling on the ground.
2. Run to the hills and wait for Imagawa to pass by
3. Defensive siege in castle and hope Imagawa gets bored and moves on and deals with him later.
4. Offensive surprise attack into heart of the Imagawa camp with single minded focus of getting Yoshimoto’s head which in turn would disband the Army into chaotic state. (or get killed trying)
As we all know, option 4 was picked and put Nobunaga and made him the talk of Japan, and made every Daimyo take notice of him. This was by no means dumb luck…
Okehazama victory was a key pillar of Nobunaga’s base that then in turn enabled his march to Kyoto later on in his life’s quest to unify Japan under 1 flag.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Even though Okehazama wasn't a blind, unthinking strike on Oda's part, there was indeed a huge element of dumb luck involved. Sudden rainstorm? All the camp guards screwing around? No scouts in the areas the strike force went through? And while you could expect that the army might be thrown into disarray by Yoshimoto's death if it succeeded, there was no guarantee that the Imagawa army would dissolve. Everything had to go right for the assault to succeed, and it did. Credit Nobunaga for being aggressive, taking the initiative, and calculating enough to try it-often, luck favors the bold. But it very easily could have ended up with him being cut down by an alert sentry, his strike force decimated, and his head presented to Yoshimoto for his viewing pleasure-and we'd now remember 'Owari no otsuke' for being a REAL 'Owari no otsuke'. Success in practically anything requires both skill and luck-at Okehazama, Oda had a huge amount of both.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Exactly. Nobunaga did not just stroll out and defeat the Imagawa, but even with his armies rallied and the deceptive methods he used, he was still outnumbered, caught the Imagawa totally with their pants down and was helped by the unanticipated weather that aided a surprise attack immensely. You have to remember that

1) the Oda were incredibly outnumbered (2,500 to 35,000)
2) Nobunaga hadn't really done anything before then to inspire a huge amount of faith in his followers or fear in his enemies
3) if the Imagawa forces had been more vigilant and sober and conditions better, the surprise attack could easily have become a suicidal assault

Let's look at human behavior and assume people prefer the choice with the greatest payoff.

Allowing a siege to take place or making a front assault would both be construed as futile resistance and would be suicidal.

A surprise attack against a large number of enemies is not exactly certain death, but depends on good fortune.

Submitting without resistance, however, offers the greatest chance of survival, even if it means losing power and a loss of prestige. At best, the Imagawa might let you keep your title and keep you on as a vassal and subordinate. At worst, you lose everything, but hey, you can shave your head, take vows and live out the rest of your life as a harmless monk. You save not only your life but the lives of your men.

Surrendering would have been the most rational option, viewed purely from a reasonable perspective. Of course, we know human beings are not reasonable and Nobunaga opted for a risky surprise attack rather than survival, no doubt inspired by cultural narratives of going out with a bang being more prestigious than submitting. Of course, this would have been a death sentence for lots of people who had no choice in the matter of all (his retainers and his more numerous footsoldiers) -- who may very well have preferred to living on their knees than dying on their feet. But that's another issue.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
luck favors the bold. .


I would probably phase it "luck favors the skilled"

At any rate, his actions such as what he did at Okehazama helped form his legendary legacy that will be still talked about 1000 years from now (if we still exist then)
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
mktanaka wrote:
At any rate, his actions such as what he did at Okehazama helped form his legendary legacy that will be still talked about 1000 years from now (if we still exist then)


No one disputes that. The issue is how much of that victory can be ascribed to Nobunaga's skill and how much can be ascribed to his fortune that day.

The Union defeated Confederate forces at least in part at the Battle of Antietam because the Union forces intercepted Special Order 191, which detailed Robert E. Lee's plans for his upcoming campaign. Did that have anything to do with the skills of the Union commanders?

Julius Caesar decided not to take his bodyguard with him when he attended the Senate session where he was assassinated. Caesar was obviously a skilled politician and military leader, but it was a product of bad luck that he left his lictors behind on the day his enemies plotted to kill him.

People like to tell themselves that they are not beholden to forces beyond their control, but it's a myth. In some situations, the best you can go with is the odds, and in Nobunaga's case, even with what preparation he did do, the odds were still against him. What tipped him over the edge at Okehazama was "outrageous fortune," to quote the bard.

History is often determined by chance. I think this scene from The Wire sums it up nicely: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2Fv-nJCfrk
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Saru wrote:
mktanaka wrote:
At any rate, his actions such as what he did at Okehazama helped form his legendary legacy that will be still talked about 1000 years from now (if we still exist then)


No one disputes that. The issue is how much of that victory can be ascribed to Nobunaga's skill and how much can be ascribed to his fortune that day.

The Union defeated Confederate forces at least in part at the Battle of Antietam because the Union forces intercepted Special Order 191, which detailed Robert E. Lee's plans for his upcoming campaign. Did that have anything to do with the skills of the Union commanders?

Julius Caesar decided not to take his bodyguard with him when he attended the Senate session where he was assassinated. Caesar was obviously a skilled politician and military leader, but it was a product of bad luck that he left his lictors behind on the day his enemies plotted to kill him.

People like to tell themselves that they are not beholden to forces beyond their control, but it's a myth. In some situations, the best you can go with is the odds, and in Nobunaga's case, even with what preparation he did do, the odds were still against him. What tipped him over the edge at Okehazama was "outrageous fortune," to quote the bard.

History is often determined by chance. I think this scene from The Wire sums it up nicely: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2Fv-nJCfrk



If the discussion is "What was the majority reason of Nobunaga's victory at Okehazama?"... (skill vs forture/luck).. my personal opinion is it was his skills. The specifics may not be formally documented, and in some cases what is "public" can be folklore or embellishments. The final outcome of Okehazama are fact... as well as Nobunaga's many other victories in battle... as well as actions as Daimyo Lord clearly showcased his vast skills as a leader of Warriors.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Saru wrote:
For all the dumb luck of victories like Okehazama there were also.....


I'm just reading through this thread, haven't read it all yet, so I don't know if this has been addressed - but the above comment might be completely wrong. David Neilson's work on the Bukoyawa, if it turns out to be legit, indicates that a tremendous amount of effort went into setting up Yoshimoto at every turn and opportunity to fall into Nobunaga's trap. If it is true, rather than "dumb luck" it was a spectacular coup of military planning, diversion, and intelligence. If this is the case, everything else Nobunaga accomplished in light of this makes it seem that rather than lucky, he was a very high level military mind. I think officially the jury is still out, but it is worth considering.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
Saru wrote:
For all the dumb luck of victories like Okehazama there were also.....


I'm just reading through this thread, haven't read it all yet, so I don't know if this has been addressed - but the above comment might be completely wrong. The work on the Bukoyawa, if it turns out to be legit, indicates that a tremendous amount of effort went into setting up Yoshimoto at every turn and opportunity to fall into Nobunaga's trap. If it is true, rather than "dumb luck" it was a spectacular coup of military planning, diversion, and intelligence.
well, that's the genius of the ue-sama for ya!! Wink
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
David D. Neilson's paper Society at War is an Okehazama gold mine. I urge those who have not read the paper do so. It will open yours eyes.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Saru wrote:
Theories that Nobunaga wanted to overthrow imperial rule itself don't seem to be entirely supported, but I did read somewhere that he adopted an imperial prince as his heir.
That must be a slip of the pen for "adopted an imperial prince as son." He certainly did not intend Kuniyoshi to replace Nobutada. Probably that was an adoption in name only.

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Surely there were others in Kyoto society [Nobunaga] could have called on, other talented generals, others familiar with the tea ceremony...? Surely he could have found those people and NOT entrusted them to the degree that he trusted Mitsuhide? Even if all his talents and knowledge made him an exceptionally useful personage, why bring him into the inner circle? Why tolerate him when he so clearly butted heads with others in the inner circle, including Nobunaga himself? Obviously there were benefits to bringing in a more intellectual, effete figure into the Oda upper echelons, but I guess I'm still missing the "je ne sais quois" that made Nobunaga mistakenly trust Mitsuhide to the degree that he did.
I don't remember any mention of quarrels with Nobunaga's subordinates, and glancing through Takayanagi's biography of Mitsuhide I couldn't find any either. Are you thinking of anything in particular? As for Nobunaga, most seem to be Edo-period accounts. Frois in his History said there was a story that Nobunaga kicked Mitsuhide once or twice in private when they had an argument, but that as there were no witnesses, Mitsuhide may have talked about it to give grounds for his actions, though probably the reason for his actions was his ambitions. That rumor may have developed into the later stories of public humiliations.

Mitsuhide was not the only important outsider, Hideyoshi was not a "fudai" retainer either.

As for Nobunaga's trusting Mitsuhide, since Mitsuhide served him well for thirteen years, it is hard to say that Nobunaga was a man of poor judgement in using him around 1569. Mitsuhide may have day-dreamed about taking Tenka, and Takayanagi suggests that at the end he may also have felt his position with Nobunaga was slipping, especially vis-a-vis Hideyoshi, but if Nobunaga hadn't left himself open with the major vassals and their armies scattered from Bitchu to Kozuke, Mitsuhide would probably have served him faithfully to the end, or as long as Nobunaga let him.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
I'm just reading through this thread, haven't read it all yet, so I don't know if this has been addressed - but the above comment might be completely wrong. The work on the Bukoyawa, if it turns out to be legit, indicates that a tremendous amount of effort went into setting up Yoshimoto at every turn and opportunity to fall into Nobunaga's trap.


I would have to see more about what is said, although the Bukoyawa was written from the perspective of Oda retainers, right? As far as I know, it also lends credence to the idea that Hideyoshi built Sunomata-jō and some of the legends surrounding that...

I mean, part of why I am so skeptical is because it doesn't seem as though 2,500 can beat 35,000 unless the enemy soldiers are fooling around drunk, the weather and terrain is unfavorable, etc. I know deceptive tactics were used, but how much can really compensate for what was also left up to chance?

Bethetsu wrote:
That must be a slip of the pen for "adopted an imperial prince as son." He certainly did not intend Kuniyoshi to replace Nobutada. Probably that was an adoption in name only.


The source I read suggested that Oda did not intend the imperial prince to succeed him so much as Nobunaga was grooming the prince to replace the Emperor, thereby bringing the court under his complete manipulation. Offered as evidence that Nobunaga wanted to supplant all traditional central authority in Japan. I can find the source for you if you want.

Quote:
I don't remember any mention of quarrels with Nobunaga's subordinates, and glancing through Takayanagi's biography of Mitsuhide I couldn't find any either. Are you thinking of anything in particular? As for Nobunaga, most seem to be Edo-period accounts. Frois in his History said there was a story that Nobunaga kicked Mitsuhide once or twice in private when they had an argument, but that as there were no witnesses, Mitsuhide may have talked about it to give grounds for his actions, though probably the reason for his actions was his ambitions. That rumor may have developed into the later stories of public humiliations.


It could be in the Ehon Taiko-ki but I could be wrong. Anyway, the story goes that Mitsuhide resented being put under Hideyoshi's command at certain points and felt superior both to Hideyoshi and the other Oda retainers. While Hideyoshi had truly humble origins, Mitsuhide still thought of himself as a more refined scholar than the likes of Maeda Toshiie and Shibata Katsuie, who were warriors first, second and third.

There was also the specific tension with Mori Ranmaru. Aside from fear of losing Tamba to Mori, there was a story about Mitsuhide losing face after Ranmaru put him on the spot for castle designs.

Additionally, I believe there is a source from the Asakura about Mitsuhide generally being false in his social interactions, very mindful of etiquette, and thereby alienating people with his lack of authentic behavior. Which makes sense, if the people he was around were not as refined as he was and as prestigious as his believed his lineage was.

Combine this with the shifting of territories, the promotion of other Oda retainers, and the relative deprivation felt by Mitsuhide you mention below, I think there was an element of loose social ties that made striking out for ambition easier.

Quote:
As for Nobunaga's trusting Mitsuhide, since Mitsuhide served him well for thirteen years, it is hard to say that Nobunaga was a man of poor judgement in using him around 1569. Mitsuhide may have day-dreamed about taking Tenka, and Takayanagi suggests that at the end he may also have felt his position with Nobunaga was slipping, especially vis-a-vis Hideyoshi, but if Nobunaga hadn't left himself open with the major vassals and their armies scattered from Bitchu to Kozuke, Mitsuhide would probably have served him faithfully to the end, or as long as Nobunaga let him.


Possibly, but he never seemed to live up to whatever it was that was expected him that got him a position in the first place. If he had indeed been supplanted by Mori Ranmaru or at the very least saw himself being totally ecliped by Hideyoshi, he might have just waited for a different opportunity. He just seems like a round peg in a square hole and I'm not entirely sure why Nobunaga tried to fit him in.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Saru, you can't consider an Edo period source like the Ehon Taiko-ki reliable. It is an illustrated bio of Hideyoshi that first appeared in 1797. To reference this work for trying to figure out Mitsuhide is not that different from using Stan Sakai's new Chushingura comic as a reliable source for insight into the character and motivations of Ôishi Kuranosuke.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Saru wrote:


I mean, part of why I am so skeptical is because it doesn't seem as though 2,500 can beat 35,000 unless the enemy soldiers are fooling around drunk, the weather and terrain is unfavorable, etc. I know deceptive tactics were used, but how much can really compensate for what was also left up to chance?


Just to play devil's advocate, the two armies weren't arrayed across a field Braveheart style, charging forward, killing 60,000 men. 2,500 or 4,000 or however many got into the main camp of a huge army spread out over who knows what distance, cut off the head of the beast (literally and figuratively), and got out. I'd be surprised if more than a few hundred Imagawa troops were killed.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
Saru, you can't consider an Edo period source like the Ehon Taiko-ki reliable. It is an illustrated bio of Hideyoshi that first appeared in 1797. To reference this work for trying to figure out Mitsuhide is not that different from using Stan Sakai's new Chushingura comic as a reliable source for insight into the character and motivations of Ôishi Kuranosuke.


Like I said, I'm not entirely sure if the story in question was from the Ehon Taiko-ki, but your point is well-taken. I searched the Internet for another source on the story of Mori Ranmaru and the castle designs and found an outdated Web page on Geocities that doesn't cite any sources but does acknowledge that the story about Mitsuhide's mother being killed is false.

Anyway, I believe the work of Taniguchi Katsuhiro and Fujita Tatsuo delve into the issue of Mitsuhide being passed over for commands, often being sent as reinforcements to support other Oda commanders, and at least one of them talks about instances where Mitsuhide offended Nobunaga (if not the other Oda commanders in some way). They also discuss the shifts in fiefdoms and how Mitsuhide may have been threatened by the historical association of the Mori family and Tamba, in addition to the deepening bridge between Nobunaga's family and the other vassals, especially Hideyoshi.

While I don't disagree with either Takayanagi Mitsutoshi or Lamers that the theories surrounding Mitsuhide's ambition have preeminent support or that is any real evidence that Mitsuhide was ill-treated, I think scholars like Taniguchi and Fujita are not out of line when they make some connections like the above. It's a bit more speculative than the ambition theory, but to me at least in helps fill in some of the questions that arise as to how the betrayal and subsequent events played out.

kitsuno wrote:
Just to play devil's advocate, the two armies weren't arrayed across a field Braveheart style, charging forward, killing 60,000 men. 2,500 or 4,000 or however many got into the main camp of a huge army spread out over who knows what distance, cut off the head of the beast (literally and figuratively), and got out. I'd be surprised if more than a few hundred Imagawa troops were killed.


Clearly a surprise attack is hard to pull off even under favorable conditions; what strikes me is just how favorable the conditions were when Nobunaga attacked. Yes, it wasn't a frontal assault, but had the Imagawa troops been more vigilant, they could have recovered from the initial attack more easily, had Yoshimoto in a position where he couldn't have been killed so easily, etc. Unless someone can somehow demonstrate that Nobunaga had knowledge prior to the fact that he would find a drunken mess with Yoshimoto out in the open like that, I have to ascribe it to luck.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Saru wrote:


Clearly a surprise attack is hard to pull off even under favorable conditions; what strikes me is just how favorable the conditions were when Nobunaga attacked. Yes, it wasn't a frontal assault, but had the Imagawa troops been more vigilant, they could have recovered from the initial attack more easily, had Yoshimoto in a position where he couldn't have been killed so easily, etc. Unless someone can somehow demonstrate that Nobunaga had knowledge prior to the fact that he would find a drunken mess with Yoshimoto out in the open like that, I have to ascribe it to luck.


Continuing to play devil's advocate, what you're implying is, if Nobunaga had worked things with his Owari network in such a way to get Yoshimoto to stop his army specifically in this particular spot which makes for an effective surprise attack without arousing any suspicion, thus removing the need for a heightened sense of awareness and care by the Imagawa soldiers, and work his intelligence network for information necessary for his plans, luck is more or less removed from the equation, but you don't think this is the case, you think that Nobunaga basically had no plan, didn't work his contacts, just gathered a suicide squad to charge boldly into the main camp on the off chance that they'd get lucky.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
Saru wrote:


I mean, part of why I am so skeptical is because it doesn't seem as though 2,500 can beat 35,000 unless the enemy soldiers are fooling around drunk, the weather and terrain is unfavorable, etc. I know deceptive tactics were used, but how much can really compensate for what was also left up to chance?


Just to play devil's advocate, the two armies weren't arrayed across a field Braveheart style, charging forward, killing 60,000 men. 2,500 or 4,000 or however many got into the main camp of a huge army spread out over who knows what distance, cut off the head of the beast (literally and figuratively), and got out. I'd be surprised if more than a few hundred Imagawa troops were killed.



The disadvantage in numbers that Oda had to the Imagawa added to the complacency of Yoshimoto.
The fact the attack was on Nobunaga's home territory was his advantage...as he was aware of the landscape and best location to try to take the Imagawa on. The use of "intel" on one's opponent is a variable that can used to one's advantage (or disadvantage). The fact Oda would not be confined to the status quo of his time showed his was "broad minded" and would take all the information available on his battle planning.

A good example that I am aware of is his use of Hideyoshi over the years and promoting him time after time based on his assessment of Hideyoshi's skills and disregard of his lowly family status.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
On the Okehazama topic, there are three key things.

1) Nobunaga had a plan at the start.
2) Did not trust his senior retainers.
3) Used the Men of the Fields (no no aru mono) to do his dirty for him. Men like Hachisuka Koroku and Maeno shoemon were key to his success. Nobunaga trusted them more than his own men due to defections.

When Nobunaga held a dance party at Ikoma mansion,both Koroku and Shoemon knew that the Uesama was not messing around. Neilson's thesis goes into great detail on this as well as the Sunomata project.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Saru wrote:
Exactly. Nobunaga did not just stroll out and defeat the Imagawa, but even with his armies rallied and the deceptive methods he used, he was still outnumbered, caught the Imagawa totally with their pants down and was helped by the unanticipated weather that aided a surprise attack immensely.


Saru wrote:
In some situations, the best you can go with is the odds, and in Nobunaga's case, even with what preparation he did do, the odds were still against him. What tipped him over the edge at Okehazama was "outrageous fortune," to quote the bard.


Saru wrote:
I mean, part of why I am so skeptical is because it doesn't seem as though 2,500 can beat 35,000 unless the enemy soldiers are fooling around drunk, the weather and terrain is unfavorable, etc. I know deceptive tactics were used, but how much can really compensate for what was also left up to chance?


kitsuno wrote:
...you think that Nobunaga basically had no plan, didn't work his contacts, just gathered a suicide squad to charge boldly into the main camp on the off chance that they'd get lucky.



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I love this thread. Smile
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