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Sanada Yukimura

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Kanji: 真田 幸村

Dates: 1567-June 3, 1615

Other Known Names: Sanada Nobushige, Sanada Saemonnosuke Yukimura

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Sanada clan mon

Sanada Yukimura was a samurai sho-daimyo (“minor warlord”) who served under both the Takeda and the Toyotomi clans. He was a samurai who was held in high regard by his peers and was also quite the tactician by using ninja strategies on the battlefield.

Sanada Yukimura was the second son of Sanada Masayuki; leader of the Sanada clan and a retainer to the Takeda clan. When the Takeda clan collapsed in 1582, the Sanada clan became independent, then allied themselves with Toyotomi Hideyoshi after Oda Nobunaga’s death in June of the same year. After the death of Hideyoshi in September 1598, the Sanada clan split with the following Sekigahara Campaign. Sanada Yukimura and his father sided with Ishida Mitsunari of the Western Army while his older brother, Sanada Nobuyuki, sided with Tokugawa Ieyasu of the Eastern Army. The split in the clan is most likely due to the brother’s wives. Sanada Nobuyuki was married to the daughter of Honda Tadakatsu, who served under Ieyasu, while Sanada Yukimura was married to the daughter of Ōtani Yoshitsugu, who served under Mitsunari.

In 1600, Tokugawa Hidetada, the son of Tokugawa Ieyasu, laid siege to the Sanada stronghold of Ueda Castle. The castle was so well defended that Hidetada abandoned the siege. It delayed both Hidetada and Yukimura’s arrival to Sekigahara, which could have dramatically changed the outcome.

After the Battle of Sekigahara on October 21, 1600, Sanada Yukimura and his father managed to escape execution but were sent into exile to Kudoyama. His father died in exile, however, Yukimura escaped and served the Toyotomi at their last stronghold of Ōsaka. In 1614, Tokugawa Ieyasu began a siege on Ōsaka Castle, beginning on November 19. The final attack of the winter campaign was the siege of Sanada-maru: a fortress named after Sanada Yukimura who designed it. The siege began on December 4, 1614 and continued throughout the winter. Yukimura’s army was able to hold back the Tokugawa army.

The siege of Ōsaka Castle began again in May 1615, known as the Summer Siege of Ōsaka Castle. Sanada Yukimura would meet his end at the Battle of Tennōji, the final battle of the siege and the Sengoku Jidai as a whole. He was wounded while leading an attack on the Tokugawa main camp and while resting, an enemy soldier found him and beheaded him. Sanada Yukimura died on June 3, 1615.