History's well-loved rulers--King David, Ashoka, Wen of Han, Marcus Aurelius, Ieyasu Tokugawa
, Catherine the Great, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Lee Kuan Yew--all reigned over periods of relative peace and prosperity.
On the twelfth day of the second month of 1603 Emperor Goyoze appointed Ieyasu Tokugawa
shogun (generalissimo) and thus began a seminal event in Japanese history; the Tokugawa were to administer Japan until the next great change in Japanese history, the fall of that Shogunate rule in 1867, and the restoration of imperial rule.
Around 1600, Ieyasu Tokugawa
led a coalition of local lords to victory in battle and established a Japanese national dynasty that would last until the Meiji Restoration of 1868.
In 1614, Ieyasu Tokugawa
banned Christian missionaries as part of Japan's seclusion policies.
Born in 1563, he came to the attention of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who admired his incisive intelligence and took him into his service; as Hideyoshi's vassal he was master of Sawayama Castle (1585); served as inspector general during the Korean campaign; one of the five bugyo (commissioners) appointed by Hideyoshi on his deathbed (1598) to carry out the decisions of the regents for his infant son, Hideyori; worked to form a coalition of daimyo to isolate Ieyasu Tokugawa
, the most powerful of Hideyoshi's supporters, and the chief regent; their struggle for power in Japan culminated in the great battle of Sekigahara (October 21, 1600); captured in the aftermath of the battle, he was executed on Tokugawa's orders (late October 1600).
1555-1586); succeeded in checking Hideyoshi Toyotomi's initial advance (1587); Toyotomi's superior numbers eventually overwhelmed the Shimazu, but he treated them well, allowing them to keep their domain; but he compelled Yoshihisa to retire in favor of Yoshihiro, who became a loyal supporter; led a division during Toyotomi's invasion of Korea, and performed heroically in a defensive role (summer 1598); sided against Ieyasu Tokugawa
at the battle of Sekigahara (October 21, 1600), and when Tokugawa emerged victorious, he was obliged to yield clan leadership to his son, Tadatsune; died in 1619.
Perhaps the most remarkable figure of Japanese history, he certainly shares with Nobunaga Oda and Ieyasu Tokugawa
a preeminent position in sixteenth-century Japan; his rise from peasant to de facto ruler of Japan would have been remarkable in any premodern culture, and was even more so in the rigidly stratified society of medieval Japan; a small man whose visage was frequently likened to that of a monkey, Hideyoshi was clever, determined, and willful; a superior tactician, he was also a cunning politician, and a man of tremendous energy; he was a patron of the arts, and fostered the artistic and architectural style known as Azuchi-Momoyama (1573-1603); during his later years, his unstable mental state led him to acts that were both unwise and cruel.