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The building of this fort proved a very
difficult task, but it was finally accomplished by a clever device on
the part of Hideyoshi, who, a master of intrigue as well as of
military strategy, subsequently won over to Nobunaga's cause many of
the principal vassals of the Saito family, among them being Takenaka
Shigeharu, who afterwards proved a most capable lieutenant to
Hideyoshi.

These preliminaries arranged, Nobunaga once more crossed the Kiso
(1564) at the head of a large army, and after many days of severe
fighting, captured the castle of Inaba-yama, which had been strongly
fortified by Yoshitatsu, and was deemed impregnable. Nobunaga
established his headquarters at this castle, changing its name to
Gifu, and thus extending his dominion over the province of Mino as
well as Owari. He had now to consider whether he would push on at
once into the province of Omi, which alone lay between him and Kyoto,
or whether he would first provide against the danger of a possible
attack on the western littoral of Owari from the direction of Ise. He
chose the latter course, and invaded Ise at the head of a
considerable force. But he here met with a repulse at the hands of
Kusunoki Masatomo, who to the courage and loyalty of his immortal
ancestor, Masashige, added no small measure of strategical ability.
He succeeded in defending his castle of Yada against Nobunaga's
attacks, and finally the Owari general, deceived by a rumour to the
effect that Takeda Shingen had reached the neighbourhood of Gifu with
a strong army, retired hurriedly from Ise.

It may here be mentioned that three years later, in 1568, Hideyoshi
succeeded in inducing all the territorial nobles of northern Ise,
except Kusunoki Masatomo, to place themselves peacefully under
Nobunaga's sway. Hideyoshi's history shows him to have been a
constant believer in the theory that a conquered foe generally
remains an enemy, whereas a conciliated enemy often becomes a friend.
Acting on this conviction and aided by an extraordinary gift of
persuasive eloquence, he often won great victories without any
bloodshed. Thus he succeeded in convincing the Ise barons that
Nobunaga was not swayed by personal ambition, but that his ruling
desire was to put an end to the wars which had devastated Japan
continuously for more than a century. It is right to record that the
failures made by Nobunaga himself in his Ise campaign were in the
sequel of measures taken in opposition to Hideyoshi's advice, and
indeed the annals show that this was true of nearly all the disasters
that overtook Nobunaga throughout his career, whereas his many and
brilliant successes were generally the outcome of Hideyoshi's
counsels.

ANOTHER SUMMONS FROM THE EMPEROR

In November, 1567, the Emperor again sent Tachiri Munetsugu to invite
Nobunaga's presence in Kyoto. His Majesty still refrained from the
dangerous step of giving a written commission to Nobunaga, but he
instructed Munetsugu to carry to the Owari chieftain a suit of armour
and a sword. Two years previously to this event, the tumult in Kyoto
had culminated in an attack on the palace of the shogun Yoshiteru,
the conflagration of the building, and the suicide of the shogun amid
the blazing ruins. Yoshiteru's younger brother, Yoshiaki, effected
his escape from the capital, and wandered about the country during
three years, supplicating one baron after another to take up his
cause. This was in 1568, just nine months after the Emperor's second
message to Nobunaga, and the latter, acting upon Hideyoshi's advice,
determined to become Yoshiaki's champion, since by so doing he would
represent not only the sovereign but also the shogun in the eyes of
the nation. Meanwhile--and this step also was undertaken under
Hideyoshi's advice--a friendly contract had been concluded with Asai
Nagamasa, the most powerful baron in Omi, and the agreement had been
cemented by the marriage of Nobunaga's sister to Nagamasa.

NOBUNAGA PROCEEDS TO KYOTO

In October, 1568, Nobunaga set out for Kyoto at the head of an army
said to have numbered thirty thousand. He did not encounter any
serious resistance on the way, but the coming of his troops threw the
city into consternation, the general apprehension being that the
advent of these provincial warriors would preface a series of
depredations such as the people were only too well accustomed to. But
Nobunaga lost no time in issuing reassuring proclamations, which, in
the sequel, his officers proved themselves thoroughly capable of
enforcing, and before the year closed peace and order were restored
in the capital, Yoshiaki being nominated shogun and all the
ceremonies of Court life being restored. Subsequently, the forces of
the Miyoshi sept made armed attempts to recover the control of the
city, and the shogun asked Nobunaga to appoint one of his most
trusted generals and ablest administrators to maintain peace. It was
fully expected that Nobunaga would respond to this appeal by
nominating Shibata, Sakuma, or Niwa, who had served under his banners
from the outset, and in whose eyes Hideyoshi was a mere upstart. But
Nobunaga selected Hideyoshi, and the result justified his choice, for
during Hideyoshi's sway Kyoto enjoyed such tranquillity as it had not
known for a century.

Nobunaga omitted nothing that could make for the dignity and comfort
of the new shogun. He caused a palace to be erected for him on the
site of the former Nijo Castle, contributions being levied for the
purpose on the five provinces of the Kinai as well as on six others;
and Nobunaga himself personally supervised the work, which was
completed in May, 1569. But it may fairly be doubted whether Nobunaga
acted in all this matter with sincerity. At the outset his attitude
towards the shogun was so respectful and so considerate that Yoshiaki
learned to regard and speak of him as a father. But presently
Nobunaga presented a memorial, charging the shogun with faults which
were set forth in seventeen articles. In this impeachment, Yoshiaki
was accused of neglecting his duties at Court; of failing to
propitiate the territorial nobles; of partiality in meting out
rewards and punishments; of arbitrarily confiscating private
property; of squandering money on needless enterprises; of listening
to flatterers; of going abroad in the disguise of a private person,
and so forth. It is claimed by some of Nobunaga's biographers that he
was perfectly honest in presenting this memorial, but others, whose
judgment appears to be more perspicacious, consider that his chief
object was to discredit Yoshiaki and thus make room for his own
subsequent succession to the shogunate.

At all events Yoshiaki interpreted the memorial in that sense. He
became openly hostile to Nobunaga, and ultimately took up arms.
Nobunaga made many attempts to conciliate him. He even sent Hideyoshi
to solicit Yoshiaki's return to Kyoto from Kawachi whither the shogun
had fled. But Yoshiaki, declining to be placated, placed himself
under the protection of the Mori family, and thus from the year 1573,
Nobunaga became actual wielder of the shogun's authority. Ten years
later, Yoshiaki returned to the capital, took the tonsure and changed
his name to Shozan. At the suggestion of Hideyoshi a title and a
yearly income of ten thousand koku were conferred on him. He died in
Osaka and thus ended the Ashikaga shogunate.

SAKAI

One of the incidents connected with Hideyoshi's administration in
Kyoto illustrates the customs of his time. Within eight miles of the
city of Osaka lies Sakai, a great manufacturing mart. This latter
town, though originally forming part of the Ashikaga domain,
nevertheless assisted the Miyoshi in their attack upon the shogunate.
Nobunaga, much enraged at such action, proposed to sack the town, but
Hideyoshi asked to have the matter left in his hands. This request
being granted, he sent messengers to Sakai, who informed the citizens
that Nobunaga contemplated the destruction of the town by fire.
Thereupon the citizens, preferring to die sword in hand rather than
to be cremated, built forts and made preparations for resistance.

This was just what Hideyoshi designed. Disguising himself, he
repaired to Sakai and asked to be informed as to the object of these
military preparations. Learning the apprehensions of the people, he
ridiculed their fears; declared that Nobunaga had for prime object
the safety and peace of the realm, and that by giving ear to such
wild rumours and assuming a defiant attitude, they had committed a
fault not to be lightly condoned. Delegates were then sent from Sakai
at Hideyoshi's suggestion to explain the facts to Nobunaga, who acted
his part in the drama by ordering the deputies to be thrown into
prison and promising to execute them as well as their fellow
townsmen. In this strait the people of Sakai appealed to a celebrated
Buddhist priest named Kennyo, and through his intercession Hideyoshi
agreed to ransom the town for a payment of twenty thousand ryo. The
funds thus obtained were devoted to the repair of the palaces of the
Emperor and the shogun, a measure which won for Nobunaga the applause
of the whole of Kyoto.

NOBUNAGA'S SITUATION

Oda Nobunaga was now in fact shogun. So far as concerned legalized
power he had no equal in the empire, but his military strength was by
no means proportionate. In the north, in the east, in the west, and
in the south, there were great territorial nobles who could put into
the field armies much larger than all the Owari chief's troops.
Takeda Shingen, in the Kwanto, was the most formidable of these
opponents. In the year 1570, when the events now to be related
occurred, the Hojo sept was under the rule of Ujimasa, and with him
Shingen had concluded an alliance which rendered the latter secure
against attack on the rear in the event of movement against Kyoto.
The better to ensure himself against Hojo designs, Shingen joined
hands with the Satomi family in Awa, and the Satake family in
Hitachi; while to provide against irruptions by the Uesugi family he
enlisted the co-operation of the priests in Kaga, Echizen, and Noto.
Shingen further established relations of friendship with Matsunaga
Hisahide in the far west.



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