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Akechi Mitsuhide: Fact and Fiction

 
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Saru
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:15 am    Post subject: Akechi Mitsuhide: Fact and Fiction Reply with quote
The most recent podcast about Nobunaga's retainers and the discussion of Nobunaga's assassination had me thinking about Akechi Mitsuhide and some of his motives for killing Nobunaga. I had never heard the conspiracy theory that he was in cahoots with Hideyoshi and that Hideyoshi simply double-crossed him in order to obtain power for himself. However, it does make a lot of sense, given that Hideyoshi did indeed have a lot to lose if Nobunaga kicked him to the curb (and that Nobunaga had incentive to do so since Hideyoshi was a dirty, wretched, scum-of-the-earth peasant swine).

I just wanted to ask some questions to separate some myths from reality:

1. The story that Hatano Hideharu killed Mitsuhide's mother is a myth, right? I'm pretty sure I read on the forums that it was, even though it's told on the Samurai Wiki entry for Mitsuhide as reliable.

2. What were some of the "public insults" that Nobunaga made toward Mitsuhide that apparently got the attention of Western observers? Were they related to his competence as a retainer or more personal than that? This may seem like a trivial distinction, but I'm curious.

3. In the podcast, a lot is made about the fact that Nobunaga's retainers were around his age and not all that high in status relative to the Oda, whom themselves were not as well-established and prestigious as some other clans. Considering that Mitsuhide could trace his ancestry to the Minamoto, could this have been a source of tension between Mitsuhide and Nobunaga?

My preferred version (and for which I have no evidence, of course, but Just Kidding ) is that Mitsuhide saw what was going on with how Nobunaga was treating his retainers and how iconoclastic he was and decided to rebel on the basis that his claim to be shogun would be better received due to his lineage. (Obviously that was risible on the face of it, but people do stupid things all the time due to cultural norms and beliefs.) I think he kind of just assumed that people would support him because he was more conventional and potentially less brutal than Nobunaga and that he didn't fully grasp that the vacuum created by Nobunaga's death would be resolved through war rather than rationality.

Whether or not Hideyoshi was in on it from that perspective is interesting. Perhaps Mitsuhide thought Hideyoshi would know his place and brought him on it. On the other hand, I could see Mitsuhide's contempt for Hideyoshi as a grubby peasant (which seemed to be the popular opinion) would have meant that Hideyoshi would have been the last person to bring in on such a conspiracy. I definitely think it's true that Hideyoshi is portrayed as too positive a light in most popular accounts; he wanted power, not revenge, when he went against Mitsuhide.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
There is a great thesis on the Honnoji in English by Brandon Schindelwolf. Toki wa Ima (The Time is Now) is very balanced paper on Akechi Mitsuhide and the Honnoji.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I too enjoyed the podcast, and found especially interesting the idea that it was just because Nobunaga was not of high position that he could do what he did.

I will mention some of Saru's statements then comment on the conspiracy theory.

Saru:1. The story that Hatano Hideharu killed Mitsuhide's mother is a myth, right? I'm pretty sure I read on the forums that it was, even though it's told on the Samurai Wiki entry for Mitsuhide as reliable.

That it is a myth appears pretty well accepted by historians.

Saru: 2. What were some of the "public insults" that Nobunaga made toward Mitsuhide that apparently got the attention of Western observers? Were they related to his competence as a retainer or more personal than that? This may seem like a trivial distinction, but I'm curious.

Frois's History says, when Nobunaga and Mitsuhide were talking privately apparently about Ieyasu's visit, Mitsuhide answered back, and Nobunaga kicked him. As it was in private, how did it get to be a rumor? Maybe Mitsuhide told it in order to give a reason for his uprising (Nihon-shi 5:144)


Saru: 3. In the podcast, a lot is made about the fact that Nobunaga's retainers were around his age and not all that high in status relative to the Oda, whom themselves were not as well-established and prestigious as some other clans. Considering that Mitsuhide could trace his ancestry to the Minamoto, could this have been a source of tension between Mitsuhide and Nobunaga?

Frois describes Mitsuhide as "not of noble birth," and being a branch of the shugo Toki would not seem to be that much above the Oda. Weren't the latter Fujiwara? Most warriors of the period seemed to claim some type of Genji connection, so would Mitsuhide be considered above most in birth?

From the podcast:
About the poem "Toki wa ima," it was the lead poem in a linked poetry meet held the end of the 5th month before Mitsuhide left for the front. The 5th month seems almost always to be described in terms of rain in poetry. One thing that I wonder about is that the attack was made in the 6th month (6/2).

It seems to be a long-standing question as to whether Hideyoshi was involved. The guide at the Takamatsu Castle Site Museum (I greatly enjoyed my visit to the site) was sure that he was, and I have come across other references too.
I really cannot accept a conspiracy. It seems like there are two requirements: he one who broached it would have to be pretty sure it would be accepted by the other party, and they would have to be pretty sure it could be carried out, and soon. Both seem unlikely.

For the second, when could they have met? Hideyoshi left Himeji for Bitchu in the 3rd month. And especially, it all depended on the timing of troop movements. What would have happened if Nobunaga had stayed in Azuchi longer or brought his army with him (besides, according to Frois, Hideyoshi said Nobunaga did not have to come to Bitchu). What if Nobutaka didn't leave for battle in Shikoku until after Akechi left for Bitchu? It seems that no one could have been sure of a chance until the middle of the 5th month.

I think that Akechi may have been discontented or worried, but he did not plan to rebel until suddenly the chance was presented and he took it. He did not need to tell anyone until one or two days before when he told his closest retainers. The soldiers were told they were going to parade before Nobunaga (Frois). He could have cancelled the attack at anytime until "The enemy is in the Honnoji!" A conspiracy on the other hand would have been very dangerous. Probably if Nobunaga had followed his own advice "never let down your guard," Mitsuhide would have been faithful to the end.

As for support, he probably assumed people would accept a fait accompli. But the idea in the podcast that the Hosokawas were in the conspiracy seems unlikely to me. As they were supposed to go to Bitchu like Mitsuhide, why didn't they have their army in a good position at the time of the attack? Also, a letter exists from Mitsuhide to the Hosokawas dated 6/9. He describes his deed as 不慮 furyo (omoigakenai) out-of-the-blue, and offers them Settsu or if they prefer Tajima and Wakasa. It seems that this would have been agreed upon at the time the conspiracy was made.

It is an interesting and, because of that, perennial topic.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The Oda were of Taira lineage (or so was claimed).

Bethetsu wrote:
I think that Akechi may have been discontented or worried, but he did not plan to rebel until suddenly the chance was presented and he took it. He did not need to tell anyone until one or two days before when he told his closest retainers. The soldiers were told they were going to parade before Nobunaga (Frois). He could have cancelled the attack at anytime until "The enemy is in the Honnoji!" A conspiracy on the other hand would have been very dangerous. Probably if Nobunaga had followed his own advice "never let down your guard," Mitsuhide would have been faithful to the end.

As for support, he probably assumed people would accept a fait accompli. But the idea in the podcast that the Hosokawas were in the conspiracy seems unlikely to me. As they were supposed to go to Bitchu like Mitsuhide, why didn't they have their army in a good position at the time of the attack? Also, a letter exists from Mitsuhide to the Hosokawas dated 6/9. He describes his deed as 不慮 furyo (omoigakenai) out-of-the-blue, and offers them Settsu or if they prefer Tajima and Wakasa. It seems that this would have been agreed upon at the time the conspiracy was made.


I agree. Mitsuhide just 'seized the day'. It explains why he apparently had no plans or any sort of real agenda in place and why he scrambled wildly trying to recruit allies afterward (as evidenced by the Hosokawa letter). He saw his chance, decided to take it, and deal with tomorrow tomorrow.

The bit about the Hatano brothers and Mitsuhide's mother has been traced to an Edo period play. That's the problem with trying to learn from English sources about the Sengoku-so much of what is readily available is based largely on Edo period fiction that was accepted as fact (Turnbull is notorious for this), and there aren't all that many academic books on the period. Japan had no real tradition of separating fact from fiction in their histories pre WWII and that has further muddied the waters for later scholars.

As to the Wiki, I've updated the entry. Many of the entires, particularly for the more notable samurai, were transferred from the original biographical entires posted on the SA 15 years or more ago. There's been a lot of advancement in academia as far as separating fact from fiction in that time, but sometimes those entries don't get updated with the new findings.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The siege of Yagami Castle went so well that the Hantano brother's were removed by their own troops. No hostage exchange was needed. None of the major chronicles or dairies mentioned Mitsuhide's mother's death. Not even the Shincho-Ko ki. See Nishigaya Yasuhiro's Oda Nobunaga Jiten (pp. 269-270).
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm not convinced that there was a "conspiracy" between multiple generals, however, if there was, Mitsuhide's apparently ill-conceived bid for power doesn't look so ill conceived if he thought he had allies in the matter, which is why I can't completely discount it. And from a complete hindsight and rational point of view, does it really make sense that Hideyoshi tied up things with the Mori and RAN back to Kyoto in time to deal out the swift sword of justice with next to no planning or provocation?

As an aside, people talk, and yes, there is a big leap from everyone being loyal to Nobunaga to suddenly springing the idea of a rebellion on fellow generals, but the reality is, people talk. Small talk, theoreticals, back room grumbling - all this can slowly generate the seed of rebellion. So rather than "I want to rebel, join me" being sprung completely out of the blue, it could have built up over a number of years. After a while, dealing with the same people for a decade, you get to know them, their preferences, and attitudes. Again, not convinced, but it is interesting to look at.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I totally agree that there must have at least been talk. Much like there's endless gossip about the most trivial political events today, I am sure something as major as the dispossession and banishment of Sakuma Nobumori must have had the other retainers reflecting privately and between themselves about their own futures. Add that to all the enemies Nobunaga had made in the country generally by being an iconoclastic tyrant, and Akechi's rebellion makes sense. This was the era of the low overcoming the high anyway...

As for the Mori thing, I am not sure how unrealistic it would have been if a spy had told him what was going on when Akechi was plotting in the fifth month but before he attacked Honnoji in the sixth month. That would give Saru some time to strike a deal with the Mori, who just wanted to hold on to what they had. The "catching the messenger" story was maybe cover for using spies rather than being privy to a conspiracy.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Saru wrote:
As for the Mori thing, I am not sure how unrealistic it would have been if a spy had told him what was going on when Akechi was plotting in the fifth month but before he attacked Honnoji in the sixth month. That would give Saru some time to strike a deal with the Mori, who just wanted to hold on to what they had. The "catching the messenger" story was maybe cover for using spies rather than being privy to a conspiracy.

Aren't "being told by a spy" and "being privy" contradictory? I wonder how the spy would know Akechi was going to attack since he acted "normally" till 6/1, and I don't see that just the poem would give him away. It does rain in the 5th month.

To really argue for a conspiracy, you have to come up with a scenario. I am sure fiction writers have come up with many, but I haven't read any of them.

A conspiracy would mean a plan with various people having various tasks to bring about a goal. Apparently there have been theories lately that the court was involved (perhaps particularly upset at Nobunaga's impinging on the calendar-making of the court in the argument about the date of the 1583 new year? Smile ), but when would the plan have been made? What were the tasks of people besides Akechi? I don't see that he needed anyone else.

If Hideyoshi was involved, presumably his role would have been to get the armies Nobunaga sent to the front (Hosokawa, Takayama, Nakagawa, etc.) out of central Japan, and Nobunaga out of Azuchi and into Kyoto. Presumably this conspiracy would have been made in the 2nd month before Hideyoshi went to Bizen. Then early in the 5th month he sends a letter asking Nobunaga to come (if Frois was wrong in stating that Hideyoshi said Nobunaga need not come).
But how could Hideyoshi be sure at the beginning of the 5th month that that Takamatsu would fall near the beginning of the 6th month and not the middle of the month? How could he be sure that Nobutaka's army would be out of the way? Why not wait a week or so till the flooding was finished and Nobutaka and his army were immeshed in Shikoku?
Also how could he know Nobunaga would come to Kyoto without his army, and very importantly, that his heir Nobutada would be there also? If Nobutada had still been alive, Hideyoshi could hardly have seized power.

As far as Hideyoshi running back to Kyoto, I heard someone compare this with his running from Ôgaki to Shizugatake when he heard of Sakuma's attack (1583/4), though this was not so far. He could move fast when he needed to. He was probably working on a deal with Mori since the time it was clear Takamatsu would fall, though he couldn't know when he could reach a deal, so when he heard the news, he pressed it harder.

Conspiracy theories are interesting, but most references I have heard to them talk just about motive. It would be interesting to look at a specific plan.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 11:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I also find the conspiracy theory while logical, seem to fail in many area.

1. you would figure if that happened someone would let it slip in the couple decades after, surely some of the Akechi retainers survived to tell the tale or at least told it to someone that survived.

2. If your Akechi and you had Hideyoshi betray you in that matter, and now he's lined up against you at Yamazaki with ODA NOBUTAKA and a bunch of other guys not under Hideyoshi, and they out number you at least 2:1, wouldn't the best idea be to simply tell all the non-Hideyoshi's men that Hideyoshi was in on this, and thus try to sow doubts and split up the opponent's? If he had that card how could he not play it?

And if we're saying there's a conspiracy that everyone was in on killing Nobunaga, including his SON, AND they conspired to kill the guy that did the dirty work immediately after, that seems way too far of a stretch.

It seems that Akechi had thought to do this but the timing was not pre planned. he probably figure he had longer to consolidate and gather forces .

Granted. that is also another question, to me it seems like the best idea would have waited at least a couple more months. then Nobutaka and Niwa Nagahide would be in Shikoku (remember, they made up of nearly half of the force at Yamazaki.) and Hideyoshi and Shibata even further away, and Shibata would probably not get back before the snow.


So, was there a feeling that Nobunaga was leaving Kyoto for good and not coming back or something?
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
RollingWave wrote:
Granted. that is also another question, to me it seems like the best idea would have waited at least a couple more months. then Nobutaka and Niwa Nagahide would be in Shikoku (remember, they made up of nearly half of the force at Yamazaki.) and Hideyoshi and Shibata even further away, and Shibata would probably not get back before the snow.


So, was there a feeling that Nobunaga was leaving Kyoto for good and not coming back or something?


This is why I lean towards the decision to kill Nobunaga being an unplanned, emotional reaction predicated on the perfect opportunity (Nobunaga isolated with a small force and guard down, Nobutada also in Kyoto with a small force). I somewhat imagine the discussion, whether it was between Mitsuhide and his advisers or just the devil on his shoulder, being something like:

Mitsuhide: "Man, I hate Nobunaga sometimes. He's such an ass to me. I can't believe he humiliated me AGAIN at the dinner for Ieyasu, and now I'm being sent with my big force to work UNDERNEATH Hideyoshi?!?! Ugh!!"

Devil: "Yeah, you're on your way to place your big force under Hideyoshi's command...and Nobunaga's here in Kyoto...at the Honnoji...with just a handful of guards...so...."

Mitsuhide: "Wait...are you suggesting....?"

Devil: "Well, I'm not saying, I'm just saying, if you REALLY want to kill him...there won't ever be a better chance...oh, and the only nearby force is Hosokawa Yusai's, and he's your relative and all, so...and Hideyoshi's tied up with the Mori, and Shibata's all the way in Hokuriku...you know, it could work. But I'm being silly, we really shouldn't..."(/sly grin)

Mitsuhide: "Hmm...you're right...eff it, I'm sick of his sh@t..."

The post-Honnoji attempts at consolidation of control are so hamfisted, so ill-conceived, that in the absence of hard evidence (another letter, for instance) that clearly outlines some sort of plan, I can't buy any explanation other than the convergence of Mistuhide being extremely butthurt plus the perfect opportunity of Nobunaga unguarded.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Mitsuhide was a man who had serious doubts on what action to take. Yes, it was unplanned and going on full emotion. His biggest mistake was after Nobunaga's death. He hesitated and did not make up his mind on what to do next. It cost him his life at the Battle of Yamazaki.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2014 4:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Mitsuhide is the Sengoku example of an Executive Director who, relentlessly harassed by his abusive psychopath of a CEO, learns that the latter is going to be all alone in the company's rented apartment by the lake with his eldest son and future CEO. So, deciding that enough is enough and toki wa ima to make the SOB pay, he takes the M16-A4 his CEO had given him as a gift, drives there with his SUV, literally goes postal on him.

On the way though, he decides it might be the right time to create a vaccum inside his company, plus there needs to be no witness, and thus he strangles his boss' son in his bedroom, then sets the whole block on fire.

Then he wakes up, looks down to his blood-soaked hands, and goes on his knees mumbling to himself "oh my God I'm so deep, deep, deep in s*** right now... what the f*** I'm gonna do?!"

That's really it, if you come down to it.

The act itself is too sudden, too improvised to be anything else than a man finally having the occasion of dishing out years of torment first, and ending a tyrant's rule second. Mitsuhide's firemost objective was to kill Nobunaga, then destroy everything the man stood for within his reach, and not get caught/stay alive.

However, that it was him going postal on his boss, doesn't exclude that he attempted to put in motion some sort of a plan. Mitsuhide wasn't a madman out of a psychiatric ward, he was capable of reason and understood very well how feudal Japan politics worked. His scramble to count his gains and find ways to stay alive and turn the situation to his advantage was improvised, yes, but he had to, he had to act fast! I'm certain he had avenues in mind, except that Hideyoshi didn't allow him the time...

I would like to bring two new points, however, that are really seldom discussed:

A) That Oda Nobutada was eliminated and Tokugawa Ieyasu was supposed to as well on the same night is almost never mentioned. When I think about Honnoji, I get to believe this is an important piece of the puzzle.

We have to play the detective here, so the first question would be "why". What motive, what benefit, even if irrational and emotional, had Mitsuhide to murder Nobutada as an accessory to Nobunaga's murder?

We know for sure that he intented to kill Nobunaga that night (duh!); what's less clear is, why did he intent to have Nobutada killed? Did Mitsuhide hate Nobunaga's legacy so badly that he premeditated his death also to erase that legacy, was he just a "collateral" because he was a threat within reach, or a victim whose's death was a political statement speaking by itself?

Oda Nobutada was the only Nobunaga's son and heir that was really groomed to be like Oda Nobunaga. Nobunaga had him raised and trained very closely. We have to remember, Oda Nobutada was formally the Lord of the Oda clan by decision of Nobunaga himself. If Mitsuhide ordered that Nobutada had to be killed as well it would be a significant clue that not only he was targeting Nobunaga's legacy as much as the man himself, but also the Oda Clan itself, that it was part of a bigger plan.

Same with Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was also marked to die that night, in Osaka. Something almost never brought up when Honnoji is discussed. Honnoji is much bigger than simply killing Nobunaga in his temple. There was a plan around it, which involved destroying anyone close to Nobunaga and within reach that could represent an immediate threat.

B) Okey, let's say Lady Macbeth wins and destroys Hideyoshi (and Oda Nobutaka too in his luggage) at Yamazaki (Just roll with it...) Then what?

Hideyoshi, for better or for worse, was a made man of Nobunaga and the avenger of Nobunaga, which granted him a fountain of legitimacy when he backed Oda Hidenobu. Akechi Mitsuhide was a tozama vassal from the Toki clan, holding Tango province, and only the Hosokawa flip-flopping in their support. While apt, he didn't hold any significant clout over the rest of the Oda vassal band and there too many senior retainers who owed their existence to Nobunaga (Shibata Katsuie, Maeda Toshiie, Niwa Nigahide, among others). Would they would have accepted an Akechi guardian over the Oda Clan? Hell, a Oda heir backed by Akechi Mitsuhide?

I doubt Mitsuhide was foolish and naive enough to believe he had a chance to be the next Nobunaga himself, taking over the Oda Clan like Saito Dôsan did with the Toki Clan. If Hideyoshi failed to crush him, odds are another Oda retainer would have (even if deep inside, these same retainers were surely all secretly thanking him for getting rid of a douchebag of a boss). Hell, anyone in the region who wanted to pay lip service to the Oda and had the gutso to go after him would have. The second Nobunaga had died, Mitsuhide had become a marked man.

I do have a sense of what Mitsuhide's immediate, post-Honnôji plan might have been: What Mitsuhide seemed to attempt was to set himself a power base around the Capital and get the backing of the Court, with Tango and Tamba plus the surrounding daimyos freed from Nobunaga. What he needed was time, time enough that the decapitated Oda clan ceased to be an effective and independent source of command and control. He probably tabled on the belief (not unfounded, I might add) that Nobunaga's senior retainers would then decide that Nobunaga's death plays right in their self-interest, that the bicker over the spoils and go their separate way override their past loyalty to Nobunaga. Same as what happened at Alexander the Great's deathbed, when all his senior retainers start to fight over who got what satrapy as fiefdom and who was to be the next King of Macedonia.

That might be one of the reasons, aside from attacking Nobunaga's legacy, that he might have premeditated Azuchi Castle destroyed and Nobutada killed. Nobutada was the only heir established and proven enough to unite all the Oda retainers behind him.


ltdomer98 wrote:

The post-Honnoji attempts at consolidation of control are so hamfisted, so ill-conceived, that in the absence of hard evidence (another letter, for instance) that clearly outlines some sort of plan, I can't buy any explanation other than the convergence of Mistuhide being extremely butthurt plus the perfect opportunity of Nobunaga unguarded.


To play the Devil's Advocate here, even if he had any plan in mind he was a dead man within two weeks. For anyone, that would be really too short a timeframe to execute any semblance of a grand strategy plan.

I'm not saying what Mitsuhide had in mind was brillant; only that, whatever he had in mind, two weeks was not enough.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2014 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
RollingWave wrote:
I also find the conspiracy theory while logical, seem to fail in many area.

1. you would figure if that happened someone would let it slip in the couple decades after, surely some of the Akechi retainers survived to tell the tale or at least told it to someone that survived.


I agree. Two people in a conspiracy is visibly one people too many.

That said, I am pretty certain no direct Akechi retainer who would have been in the know survived the aftermath of Yamazaki. If hypothetically some of them did fled and survive they had no interest to talk and reveal by it they were part of the band of an archtraitor.


RollingWave wrote:

Granted. that is also another question, to me it seems like the best idea would have waited at least a couple more months. then Nobutaka and Niwa Nagahide would be in Shikoku (remember, they made up of nearly half of the force at Yamazaki.) and Hideyoshi and Shibata even further away, and Shibata would probably not get back before the snow.

So, was there a feeling that Nobunaga was leaving Kyoto for good and not coming back or something?


Mitsuhide simply felt that it was a lifetime opportunity to catch Nobunaga at his most vulnerable, without his retinue of killer bodyguards surrounding him. It was now or never.

Remember, since 1580 a lot of Nobunaga's vassals felt they were living on borrowed time. Nobunaga could banish them anytime for the flimsiest of reasons, especially Mitsuhide since he was a tozama AND Nobunaga's favourite bullying victim.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2014 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Drakken wrote:
To play the Devil's Advocate here, even if he had any plan in mind he was a dead man within two weeks. For anyone, that would be really too short a timeframe to execute any semblance of a grand strategy plan.

I'm not saying what Mitsuhide had in mind was brillant; only that, whatever he had in mind, two weeks was not enough.


Your conclusion is correct, but the logic is completely backwards. Yes, 2 weeks is too short a time in which to execute any form of lasting power consolidation and control. One could argue that he *THOUGHT* he'd have more than 2 weeks, what with Hideyoshi being tied up with the Mori, etc. But your observation agrees with my point, rather than argues against it. If you're going to assassinate Nobunaga, WITH THE INTENTION OF SEIZING POWER FOR YOURSELF, there's a whole hell of a lot more that needs to be done than can be accomplished in that short amount of time, whether you have two weeks or two months (let's remember it took Hideyoshi until beyond Kiyosu to consolidate his position, and he had the claim of being Nobunaga's avenger AND possession of Samboshi...).

IF one posits that Mitsuhide's actions were calculated to seize control after removing Nobunaga, THEN one would expect to see more evidence of planning--documentary evidence pointing to cozied relations with co-conspirators and potential post-Honnoji allies, if nothing else. But we don't have that--what we have instead is a picture of an action taken, and THEN attempts at a plan to consolidate control and stave off threats AFTER the fact.

Every action is rational in the mind of the actor, at the time the action is taken. I believe this 100%. No one takes action, be it Mitsuhide, or Katsuyori at Nagashino, or Hitler invading Russia, and says "well, this is probably a really bad idea, but eff it, let's do it anyways and see what happens." Within a certain context, it must be rational to that person at that time. If we believe that Mitsuhide's goal was usurpation of control from Nobunaga, he was either irrational or woefully ignorant of what would be necessary to do so. Hence I believe the more likely scenario is the case where the action is rational--as a violent expression of resentment and anger at a perceived tormenter when a golden opportunity came about that was almost too good to be true and likely would never come again, with enough space (or so he thought) afterwards to figure out what was next. The "NEXT" was not the motivation--had it been the motivation, we'd either see more evidence of planning or he wouldn't have taken action. The "NOW" was the motivation, the opportunity to strike a blow at Nobunaga and remove him and his son without IMMEDIATE (ie, no one in the vicinity) reprisal.

To your "A":

You're assuming premeditation, for one. For another, I'd respond "it just makes good sense". Nobutada, Nobunaga's heir, is also in the city, also lightly guarded, and is (as you say) the only one who could strike back at Mitsuhide with the undivided support of the Oda house. Also, a point you don't mention, however, is that the attacks on Nobunaga and Nobutada were sequential, not simultaneous. This doesn't prove anything one way or the other, but if it was a premeditated attempt at a power grab, it would make more sense for them to be simultaneous. The timing reads as if Nobunaga was the primary goal, and once accomplished he moved on to Nobutada as a secondary target.

Once the decision is made to do it, of course Mitsuhide sought to take out the obstacles to his survival afterwards (Ieyasu and Nobutada). This isn't Lord Ako getting angry and drawing his sword in a fit of rage, but it's also not Hojo Soun's premeditated and extremely well-planned takeover of Izu and Sagami.

I don't understand what you're saying with point B--you go from saying it was premeditated and focused on power in Point A, to saying he couldn't have taken over the Oda clan (correct) and outlining a rather haphazard plan to survive while the remaining Oda retainers argue amongst themselves (which I agree, probably was the "well, now what?" plan). Your point B supports the supposition that it WASN'T a premeditated power grab.

Then you "play Devil's Advocate" with my statement, suggesting that he did have a plan and didn't get a chance to execute it. Then in your response to Rolling Wave, you say

Quote:
Mitsuhide simply felt that it was a lifetime opportunity to catch Nobunaga at his most vulnerable, without his retinue of killer bodyguards surrounding him. It was now or never.


Which is pretty much exactly what I said in my own statement. So I'm not exactly sure what position you're trying to argue.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
(besides, according to Frois, Hideyoshi said Nobunaga did not have to come to Bitchu)


That's news to me. Was that in Frois' History of Japan book? Never heard of this before.

But were it true, Shinchoukoki seems to support it in a way. Maybe I read it wrong, but the way it was worded made it seem like all Hideyoshi did was make a report of the situation and Nobunaga himself was the one who wanted to go there with the backup to gloat over the expected utter defeat of the Mouri. At least... that's the impression that I got.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
(besides, according to Frois, Hideyoshi said Nobunaga did not have to come to Bitchu)

hashiba_hideyoshi wrote:
That's news to me. Was that in Frois' History of Japan book? Never heard of this before.

But were it true, Shinchoukoki seems to support it in a way. Maybe I read it wrong, but the way it was worded made it seem like all Hideyoshi did was make a report of the situation and Nobunaga himself was the one who wanted to go there with the backup to gloat over the expected utter defeat of the Mouri. At least... that's the impression that I got.
In Frois's supplement to the 1582 Annual Letter, he says
Môri had gathered soldiers to make a last stand, so Hashiba, who had only 25,000 men, wrote to Nobunaga asking for reinforcements. He said that if he had 30,000 more men he could immediately occupy Mori's land and present him with Mori's head, so Nobunaga himself shouldn't come. But Nobunaga decided to come to the capital and go to the battlefield via Sakai. When the subjection of Môri and then all Japan was complete, he would turn his attention to China.

Frois repeats this in the History.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I looked at the Shinchôkôki passage. You are right that it says nothing about Hideyoshi asking him to come. That is the "standard" version though. I wonder where it came from. 


The Shinchôkôki passage says something like that Hideyoshi had ordered Takamatsu flooded and that Môri was gathering an army from Aki to oppose him. When Nobunaga heard this, he thought [because soon heaven would give him the oportunity??] he would move his position, complete the conquest of the Chûgoku regions one after another, and his orders would go (?) even to Kyushu. So then he ordered Mitsuhide, Hosokawa Tadaoki, etc. (has anyone heard of 塩河吉大夫?) to go as the vanguard.
It does have similarities with Frois in his conviction that it was part of further conquests; it almost seems to say that he would move on to Kyushu in this campaign. Does anyone have the English translation of the passage?
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
Does anyone have the English translation of the passage?


I've got the Lamers/Elisonas translation at home. Will look it up when I get home today after work (about 9 hours from now). If someone beats me to it, then great.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
Does anyone have the English translation of the passage?


From the Elisonas and Lamers translation:

Anvancing from Aki Province with their forces, Mouri, Kikkawa, and Kobayakawa took up positions confronting Hashiba in the field. When word of this reached Lord Nobunaga, he pronounced that the enemy's having massed so close by was a gift from Heaven. Hence he would move out himself, he said, wipe out the entire elite of Chugoku, and reduce everything as far to Kyushu to obedience. Using Hori Kyutaro as his messenger, Nobunaga sent itemized orders to Hashiba Chikuzen's camp. Then he designated Koreto Hyuga no Kami, Nagaoka Yoichiro, Ikeda Shuzaburo, Shiokawa Kitsudayu, Takayama Ukon, and Nakagawa Sehyoe to spearhead the offensive and immediately gave them leave.


Last edited by hashiba_hideyoshi on Sun Feb 22, 2015 5:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
In Frois's supplement to the 1582 Annual Letter, he says
Môri had gathered soldiers to make a last stand, so Hashiba, who had only 25,000 men, wrote to Nobunaga asking for reinforcements. He said that if he had 30,000 more men he could immediately occupy Mori's land and present him with Mori's head, so Nobunaga himself shouldn't come. But Nobunaga decided to come to the capital and go to the battlefield via Sakai. When the subjection of Môri and then all Japan was complete, he would turn his attention to China.

Frois repeats this in the History.


Huh. That sounds more like Hideyoshi was tired of the campaign already and wanted this to be done and over with ASAP, not that he needed help in particular.

Do you know if there's a transcript of this letter somewhere? I don't recall seeing it in the "They came to Japan" compilation, but maybe I just missed it or forgot about it.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
hashiba_hideyoshi wrote:
Do you know if there's a transcript of this letter somewhere? I don't recall seeing it in the "They came to Japan" compilation, but maybe I just missed it or forgot about it.

The letter was originally published in 1598 in Cartas (sometimes called Evora after the place of publication). I used the modern Japanese translation in Jesuit Reports and also checked the translation of the History.

So, who said Hideyoshi asked Nobunaga to come in person?
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 5:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
So, who said Hideyoshi asked Nobunaga to come in person?


I didn't think anybody actually did, or... did they? O___O

I thought it was kind of implied by the whole "Hideyoshi and Mitsuhide was working together to off Nobunaga" theory. If Hideyoshi's request for backup was part of some conspiracy plot, that required him to be sure that Nobunaga will be heading down himself, otherwise it wouldn't work.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:


So, who said Hideyoshi asked Nobunaga to come in person?


I'm very sure I have read that somewhere, but at this moment I couldn't begin to give a source. I'm pretty sure that what I had read went along the lines that Hideyoshi knew that he could handle the Mori by himself, but wanted to give Nobunaga the glory of being on site - which was either that he wanted Nobunaga to feel superior because Hideyoshi needed him there, or Hideyoshi wanted to show Nobunaga his handywork. I wish I could remember where I read it, but I have no idea right now. This isn't to say it's true or correct, just that it's in a book somewhere.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
Bethetsu: So, who said Hideyoshi asked Nobunaga to come in person?

I'm very sure I have read that somewhere, but at this moment I couldn't begin to give a source.
You probably did read that. I think that it is how it is popularly understood; for example, that was how it went in the Taiga Gunshi Kambei. I had always understood that to be the Japanese account, which is why I was so surprised when earlier in this thread hashiba_hideyoshi pointed out that the Shinchokoki does not say so. So I was wondering about the original source of the story, not particularly where you read it.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I thought that For quite awhile though Nobunaga had kept relatively limited guards in his Kyoto stays. It's not like this was the first time he stayed in that place with that level of defense.

And I personally doubt Akechi was really in danger of being fired, at least any more so than the other guys, the guys Nobunaga fired you can understand when looking at their body of work leading up to the incident, Sakuma performed poorly in his attempt to aid Tokugawa and also in his siege of Osaka. while Hayashi and others basically sat on their arse most of this time. Akechi seems widely agreed on being one of the most capable and productive retainers for him. Sure, he could take him out out of fear of his ability, but then that seem to go against what we know of Nobunaga.
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