Tokugawa Ieyasu

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tokugawa Ieyasu


Born Dec. 15,1542, in Aichi Prefecture; died 1616 in Kunazan, near Shizuoka. Japanese feudal lord; founder of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Tokugawa was a close associate of Oda Nobunaga and Toyo-tomi Hideyoshi, the military leaders who in the late 16th century established a centralized feudal state in Japan. After Toyotomi’s death in 1598, Tokugawa became the leader of a coalition of feudal lords. In 1600, in the battle of Sekigahara, he completely defeated his opponents, who had formed an alliance under Toyo-tomi Hideyori, the son of Hideyoshi. In 1603, after forcing the emperor to confer on him the title of shogun, Tokugawa concentrated all power in his own hands. Although in 1605 he declared that power had been transferred to his son, Hidetada, he in fact continued to rule the country. Tokugawa issued edicts confirming the enserfment of the peasants. He also promulgated codes of conduct for princes and noblemen, as well as for the emperor and members of his court, which placed them under the shogunate’s control.


Sadler, A. L. The Maker of Modern Japan: The Life of Tokugawa Ieyasu. London [1937].
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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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.