Being a writer is a lot of work. Most of your time is spent in front of a computer, either typing the next chapter of a book or researching various things on the Internet for said book. Since so much of my time recently has been spent working on the historical fiction novel, I don’t get a chance to sit down and write out full articles like I used to. That doesn’t mean I haven’t stopped researching. Considering that January has been quiet, I thought about sharing some of things I have learned about this month. Here are the five most interesting I found in my research in January 2023.
#1: Kobayakawa Hideaki was an alcoholic by 12 years old
I can tell you a lot about Ishida Mitsunari. I can tell you a lot about Tokugawa Ieyasu. Yet, my knowledge on the famous (or infamous) traitor of Sekigahara was severely lacking. Once I started looking into his life, it became apparent that this man’s life was not his own. In a Japanese Wikipedia article about him, it states that he was highly sought after by many daimyō during his time as heir to the Toyotomi. He was second in line, behind Toyotomi Hidetsugu, but once Toyotomi Hideyori was born, he was removed from that list, for Hideyori was made heir. During his time being in the line for succession, however, daimyō came to persuade the young lord starting at age seven. These events included alcohol. The problem got worse after the daimyō stopped coming around after he was removed from succession and he drank heavily, becoming what we would call an alcoholic by today’s standards at the tender age of twelve. This would also be the contributing factor for his death in 1602, dying at only twenty-one years old.
Source: Hideaki Kobayakawa – Wikipedia
#2: There’s an interesting war chronicle featuring Uesugi Kagekatsu
I thank the Heavens that this is not credible, but it makes for interesting reading.
There is a war chronicle called Ouu Eikei Gunki which paints Uesugi Kagekatsu in a…unique light. According to this chronicle, Kagekatsu was an extreme misogynist, and tended to favor the company of men. It has been discredited because it doesn’t line up with historical fact and there are two examples of the chronicle’s content to show how it doesn’t match history.
The first has to deal with Kagekatsu’s supposed hatred of women. For some context, Kagekatsu did not have an heir even after Sekigahara, for his illegitimate son, Uesugi Sadakatsu was born in 1604. Since there isn’t anything available on his wife, Kikuhime, I can only assume that she was barren considering how she was unable to produce an heir, but the chronicle tells a completely different tale. He apparently enjoyed the company of men so much that Naoe Kanetsugu, his senior retainer, decided to dress up a prostitute as a man…you see where this is going right? She gives birth to Sadakatsu but is met with Kagekatsu’s wrath at the discovery. Since she has lost favor with him, she commits seppuku and years later Sadakatsu kills Kanetsugu. Another source states that it was Kikuhime who was furious at Sadakatsu’s birth, but here is where the problem comes in. Kikuhime would pass only a couple of months before Sadakatsu was born, meaning that she was not around for his birth.(1)
There’s also the fact that many claim that Kagekatsu was not a homosexual either, for he would ban the practice in his domain in 1612. Again, though, this claim is based off this ban so, not a hundred percent sure on this one, but it is fact that Sadakatsu did not kill Kanetsugu. In fact, because his mother, Keiganin, would die not long after giving birth to him, Kanetsugu and his wife, Osen no Kata would end up raising him.(2)
1 & 2. “Uesugi Kagekatsu”, Sengokujidai.org. Last accessed January 30, 2023. Uesugi Kagekatsu「上杉景勝」 | Sengoku Jidai
#3: There was a musical drama about Konishi Yukinaga in 1607 in Italy
Konishi Yukinaga is a man that doesn’t get a lot of attention here in the West. He, along with Ankokuji Ekei, tend to be forgotten about compared to Ishida Mitsunari during the Sekigahara Campaign, yet all three men were executed on the same day: November 6, 1600. Yet, Yukinaga is interesting because not only was he one of the Supreme Commanders during the Imjin War, but he was also a Christian convert, and apparently a beloved one. There were multiple attempts made by the missionaries to give him Last Rites before he was executed, all denied by Tokugawa Ieyasu. He was given a Christian funeral after the execution, and the news of his death even reached Rome, where Pope Clemens VIII lamented his death. Interestingly, there is record of a musical production being put on in Genova, Italy in which Yukinaga was the main character. Why isn’t he a saint yet?
Source: Konishi Yukinaga | Sengoku Jidai
#4: Tōdō Takatora was in rough shape by the end of his life
Tōdō Takatora has a pretty interesting resume, something I’m learning more about especially after getting my hands on Chris Glenn’s new biography about him. Yet, before I got my hands on this book, I did some research on him and found that he sustained a significant number of injuries from his time on the battlefield. Not only that, but he would also lose his sight just before his death in 1630. The young attendant who was preparing his body for burial was appalled by the condition he was in, which tells me that the kid was so young that he never saw battle a day in his life. Something that would seem insignificant to those who had fought during the Sengoku Jidai was viewed in a different light a mere fifteen years later after Ōsaka Castle fell.
Takatora, was in fact, in rough shape by the end of his life. His body was scarred with bullet and spear wounds and was even missing fingers. He lost the third and little finger on his right hand and lost part of the middle finger on his left. He managed to live through the wars, so his battle scars became a testament to chaos he survived. Illness would eventually do him in, passing away at seventy-five years of age.
#5: The Uesugi men all died on the same day just years apart
Queue The Twilight Zone theme.
While doing research on the Uesugi clan, I noticed something odd. Uesugi Kenshin, Uesugi Kagetora and Uesugi Kagekatsu, all died on April 19, just in different years, at least according to the modern calendar.
We’ve talked a lot about Uesugi Kenshin on the website before, noting that he passed away on April 19, 1578, probably due to esophageal cancer. Kenshin’s death led to a dispute between the two adopted sons: Uesugi Kagetora and Uesugi Kagekatsu. This dispute led to a civil war within the clan called Otate no Ran. This ended with Uesugi Kagetora and his family committing seppuku on April 19, 1579: the first anniversary of Kenshin’s passing. Finally, after the wars were over, Uesugi Kagekatsu would pass away on April 19, 1623.
Sources: Uesugi Kenshin – Wikipedia