2008: Tseng Fu-wen, drug dealer 1574: Gabriel de Lorges, accidental regicide

1579: Hatano Hideharu, en route to the Tokugawa Shogunate

June 25th, 2009 Headsman

On this date in 1579, the treacherous execution of a rebellious Japanese lord set events in motion that would shape the nation’s destiny.

For two centuries, Japan had been shaken with civil strife in the Sengoku, or “Warring States”, period.

Hatano Hideharu, chief of the minor Hatano clan, got himself on the outs with powerful daimyo Oda Nobunaga. Nobunaga’s samurai general Akechi Mitsuhide forced Hideharu’s capitulation, convincing him to lay down his arms by offering his own mother as a hostage.*

And here’s where the bodies start piling up.

Nobunaga overruled Mitsuhide’s promise of safe conduct and had Hatano Hideharu put to death.

Outraged, the Hatano clan retaliated by crucifying Akechi Mitsuhide’s mother.

Since Mitsuhide suffered the consequences for the bad behavior of his boss, this tit-for-tat left a bit of tension between the two. (The Hatano were done as a factor in Japanese politics, so having served to poison this relationship, our story takes its leave of them here.)

Perhaps as a result — there’s no single agreed-upon reason, but the personal vendetta has drawn the most commentary — Mitsuhide himself rebelled and forced Oba Nobunaga to commit seppuku.

It probably wasn’t exactly like this fanvid of Samurai Warriors 2 scenes.

Mitsuhide’s betrayal opened the door for another Nobunaga retainer, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, to in turn crush Mitsuhide,** and seize power for himself.

From that station, Hideyoshi completed the national unificiation that Nobunaga had commenced and set the stage for the Edo period under the shogunate founded by his successor, Tokugawa Ieyasu.

And maybe — with a stretch — they owe it all to Hatano Hideharu.

* The online sourcing on the death of Makiko, Akechi Mitsuhide’s mother, is a bit inconsistent; some suggest that the Hatano didn’t have her a hostage, but found a way to kidnap her for revenge.

** Mitsuhide’s daughter Hosokawa Gracia, became a legendary Christian convert after his death.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 16th Century,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Japan,No Formal Charge,Notable Participants,Politicians,Power,Public Executions,Soldiers,Summary Executions,Wartime Executions,Wrongful Executions

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