Azai Nagamasa


Kanji: 浅井長政
Dates: 1545-August 28, 1573
Other Known Names: N/A


Azai clan mon

Azai Nagamasa was the third daimyo of the Azai clan and was the brother-in-law to Oda Nobunaga. He is well-known for fighting against Nobunaga when he attacked an ally of the Azai clan, the Asakura clan.
Azai Nagamasa was born at Odani Castle in 1545, and was the son of Azai Hisamasa, the second daimyo of the Azai clan. They ruled over the northern part of Omi Province, east of Lake Biwa. When he was young, there was a marriage proposal for him to marry a girl of the Rokkaku clan, but he declined after traveling to Kannonji. In 1560, Nagamasa turned fifteen and became head of the Azai clan after his father stepped down and retired to Odani Castle. One of his first decisions after becoming daimyo was breaking away from the Rokkaku clan. That same year, he led his first major battle, the Battle of Norada. He proved to be an outstanding leader, as he defeated the Rokkaku army, and he would continue to defeat the Rokkaku and the Saitō during their skirmishes.
In 1564, Nagamasa married Oda Nobunaga’s sister, Oichi. This was mainly a political move by Nobunaga, because the Azai clan was close to Kyōto, however, the marriage would become a problem in the coming years.
In 1570, Nobunaga declared war on the Asakura clan of Echizen. The Asakura were old allies of Azai clan, and the clan became divided on who to support: the Asakura or the Azai. Nagamasa favored being neutral, but he also wanted to side with his brother-in-law. In the end, the Azai clan sided with the Asakura.
By that summer, Nagamasa would face Nobunaga in battle at Anegawa. The battle ended indecisively and suffering great losses. A brief truce was made between the parties but Nagamasa lived under constant threat of his brother-in-law. In August 1573, Nobunaga sent an army to attack Odani Castle. Seeing that it was his time, Nagamasa sent Oichi and his three daughters to Nobunaga, and then committed seppuku.
The Azai continued to suffer after Nagamasa’s death. One of Nagamasa’s sons, Manpukumaru, was hidden from Nobunaga, and only Oichi knew his whereabouts. Nobunaga convinced her to tell him her son’s location after saying that he wanted to raise the child himself. Sadly, the child was killed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. There is at least one account of Nobunaga having the skulls of Azai Nagamasa, Azai Hisamasa, and Asakura Yoshikage lacquered and used them as cups.
Nagamasa’s daughters became famous after their father’s death through their marriages. The eldest, Yodo-dono or Chacha, became the concubine of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the mother of his heir, Hideyori. She would die alongside her son via seppuku at the Summer Siege of Ōsaka Castle in 1615. Hatsu, the second oldest, married a famous daimyo, Kyōgoku Takatsugu. The third daughter who escaped Odani Castle that August was Oeyo, the wife of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s eldest son, Hidetada, and the mother of the third Tokugawa shōgun, Iemitsu.