Warring States Japan: Sengoku Jidai – Battle of Okehazama – Extra History – #1


[Intro Music] Sengoku Jidai: The Warring States Period The time we think of when we think of samurai A time of self sacrifice, bravery, treachery and betrayal A time when the fate of great clans could turn in a day and peasants could rise up to become regent of all Japan A time filled with personalities like Miyamoto Musashi Oda Nobunaga Hattori Hanzo and of course, Tokugawa Ieyasu Names that live on in our culture even today It’s one of the most seminal periods in Japanese history and it’ll be the topic of our next few videos. In 1467, a few decades before Colombus stumbled upon the shores of the Bahamas, and fifteen years after the light of Rome was extinguished for the last time at the fall of Constantinople, Japan erupted into a great civil war This war, the Onin War, rocked all of Japan. It started as a dynastic dispute between two great clans, the Hosokawa and the Imana but it soon spiralled out of their control, devastating both of these clans and shattering any semblance of unity within Japan As central authority collapsed, regional warlords called damiyo fought to assert their power over whatever portion of the country they could grab fracturing Japan into a hundred feuding fiefdoms and plunging the whole country into chaos and a hundred years of ceaseless war But we’re going to pick up the story in the province of Mikawa the home of the Matsudaira in 1548 This province and this whole region is central to our story because Kyoto, the capital of Japan at the time and traditionally the home of the emperor and the shogun, is just a short distance away and whoever controls the shogun, at least in theory, controls Japan But in Mikawa, the Matsudaira are surrounded by two larger, much more powerful clans The Oda to the west and the Imigawa to the east It was just a matter of time until one of these larger clans attacked the Matsudaira looking to claim their territories in this age of ‘might makes right’ 1548 is that year The Oda forces start marching into Matsudaira territory, Their defences collapse Without help, the Matsudaira are clearly lost so the head of the Matsudaira clan turns to the Imigawa. He asks them for an alliance, for help to defend his lands, but an alliance won’t come without a price The Imigawa clan offer to help on the condition that he send them his eldest son as a hostage Having little other choice, the head of the Matsudaira family agrees But, as his retuines are taking his son to the Imigawa territory, they’re ambushed Somebody tipped off the Oda The boy is kidnapped and spirited away to Oda lands The Oda write to the Matsudaira and tell them that, if they don’t turn traitor and end their alliance with the Imigawa, they’ll kill the boy And here’s where the head of the Matsudaira pulls one of the most brilliant manoeuvres of the Sengoku Jidai Now I don’t know if he did it as a brilliant stratagem or if he was doing it out of stoic samurai bravado but still…brilliant He writes back and says to them something roughly like: ‘Kill my son.’ ‘In doing so, you will show the Imigawa just how committed to our alliance I am’ What a Catch-22! Don’t kill my son, I win Kill my son, I win more And, boy, does it work! The Oda don’t kill the boy. In fact they have no idea what to do with him now So he just sits around in a local temple for several years Thus in a world where hostages are slaughtered left and right, this boy is left unharmed until, at last, an opportunity comes for the Oda to get what little use out of him they can The old head of the Oda has died and the Oda forces are in a bit of disarray The Imigawa see their opportunity and put to seige the castle that houses the new head of the Oda clan while he’s relatively undefended Then they offer the Oda a deal: ‘We’ll let you live as long if you hand over the castle we’re sieging and give us back the Matsudaira boy you stolen from us years ago’ The Oda jump at the deal because, hey, good riddance! The head of the Matsudaira clan has also just recently died, making this boy, in name at least, the new head of the clan The Imigawa see having him as a hostage as a good way of assuring that the Matsudaira will remain on their side And, with any luck, they can raise him to be a staunch ally of the Imigawa by the time he returns home at the age of 15 In 1556, the boy is now officially a man by the standards of the time and he returns to Mikawa to rule the province in his own right The alliance with the Imigawa is going well The Oda are feeling the pressure of the combined forces of the Matsudaira and the Imigawa And now it is time for this teenage damiyo to take up the sword himself and lead the Matsudaira forces His capacity for war is quickly confirmed as he storms through Oda lands reducing the hill forts along the border. But even as his armies are raising the Matsudaira flag over these fortified hills, the Imigawa forces are doing even better, cutting deep swathes into the Oda lands The end is near The Imigawa forces are going to march onto the final great Oda castle, destroy their last major rival and sweep on to take Kyoto with the loyal Matsudaira at their side The Imigawa forces are resting in a gorge, partying, celebrating and regathering their strength for the final siege of this castle. The Matsudaira forces are camped a bit further off at one of the border forts they’ve recently taken Meanwhile, the last of the Oda forces are in their castle They are preparing for one last desperate defence, but their leader, the twenty-six year old Oda Nobunaga has other plans His advisers counsel him to hide in the castle or perhaps surrender without a fight, but he turns to them and he says ‘Do you really want to spend your entire lives praying for longevity? We were born in order to die!’ Whoever’s with me, come to the battlefield tomorrow morning. Whoever’s not, just stay wherever you are and watch me win it!’ He knows that all defending the the castle will do is buy him maybe a few more days, but he has no interest in losing more slowly. He’d rather take the thousand to one shot at victory So he gathers up the few hundred men he has in his castle and begins riding towards the Imigawa force, an army that numbers in the tens of thousands He rallies men to his banner as he winds through the countryside mustering a force of about twenty five hundred souls not afraid to die on this suicide charge he’s proposing But his information network is still good and he knows that the Inigawa forces are resting in a gorge What’s more, it’s a gorge he knows well from when he was a boy He has a plan It may be a desperate one, perhaps even a foolhardy one but it is a plan He has no intention of charging onto the spears of his enemies just to die with glory When they near the gorge where his enemies are resting, Oda Nobunaga does something that seems like madness with his force of 2500 facing up against an army of 25,000 He splits up his men But he’s playing to win here and he knows that he’s only got one shot so he sends a division of 500 men up to a fortified temple on a nearby hill These 500 men are not there to fight, but rather, to create a decoy army They take flags and banners and litter them atop the hill so that the men in the gorge think Nobunaga’s entire force has taken up a defensive position there Hardly a threat for them to worry about After all, it’s just one more hill fort to take But Oda Nobunaga has another plan He knows how to sneak around the gorge and enter it from a place the Imigawa will never suspect As he begins to lead his forces around their stealthy path, a storm rolls in The rain begins to pour The clouds and the water whipping through the wind mask his approach No one in the gorge sees them until it’s too late The men in the gorge have been drinking Some are in tents, many have dispered to find shelter from the rain And then just as the clouds part and the rain stops, Oda Nobunaga’s men come charging into the valley It’s mayhem. It’s a slaughter The unprepared and drunken men scatter or fall where they stand The attack is so sudden that the lord of the Imigawa doesn’t even realise it’s an attack. He thinks it’s just a ruckus caused by the peasants in his army so he doesn’t move from the play he’s watching until a soldier bursts in his tent At first he thinks it’s one of his men but the soldier thrusts his spear at him He whips out his katana at the last moment and slice the spear in two, but too late! Another man rushes in and lops off his head. With that, with such surprise and such panic, with the complete loss of their leadership, the Imigawa army evaporates. Thousands are cut as they flee, thousands more just quietly return to their farms back in the Imigawa lands But this force was everything! The Imigawa thought they were going to go all the way to Kyoto with this army so they brought everything they had The weakened Imigawa are now just carrion for their hungry neighbours All of those clans around them descend on their land and carve it up between them. even one of their former allies The young leader of the Matsudaira understood which way the wind was blowing As he watched the routing Imigawa forces stream past his captured hill fort, he decided it was time to meet the young lord of the Oda. Oda Nobunaga, perhaps due to his own lack of forces, or perhaps due to the Matsudaira boy’s nearly mythical ability to dodge death, agreed to work with him rather than slaughter his forces outright as was often done to the losing side during the Sengoku Jidai. The young Matsudaira leader agreed to be, not perhaps a vassal, but more of a junior partner in wherever Nobunaga’s adventures may lead him This young man who will one day be known far and wide: Tokugawa Ieyasu Join us for the next episode as Oda Nobunaga begins to formulate his own plans to march on Kyoto and this young man transforms the Matsudaira into the formidable Tokugawa clan! Ooh, and if you want more cool samurai facts, check out this video from our friends at AllTimeNumbers See you next time!

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