Toyotomi Hidetsugu

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  • Born: 1568
  • Died: 1595
  • Titles: Kanpaku (1592)
  • Other names: Hashiba Hidetsugu, Hidetsugi
  • Distinction: Toyotomi retainer

Hidetsugu was the son of Miyoshi Yorifusa, who was married to Toyotomi Hideyoshi's sister. He first saw service on campaign at Nagakute (1584) against Tokugawa Ieyasu, where his leadership skills were found lacking. He nonetheless went on to serve in the Shikoku and Odawara campaigns and was first given a fief in Ômi and later much of Owari (1590). He was named Hideyoshi's heir and kanpaku in January 1592 following the deaths of Hashiba Hidenaga and Hideyoshi's infant son Tsurumatsu. He moved his residence to Jurakutei and carried out his duties as Imperial Regent, entertaining the emperor in early 1592 and gaining a reputation for trivial dalliances. In August 1595 he was suddenly ordered into exile at Mt. Kôya and was soon afterwards ordered to commit suicide along with his chief vassals, followed by a number of his favorites (including Maeno Nagayasu and Watarase Shigeaki). His immediate family, including his young children (a daughter and two sons) and a few dozen others, were executed before the public and buried in a mass grave. Even daimyô considered to be on friendly terms with Hidetsugu were made uncomfortable for their association. Hideyoshi's motivations for his harsh measures are unclear but may well have been driven by the birth of Toyotomi Hideyori two years previously. Some have suggested that Hidetsugu refused to take a part in the Korean Campaigns, and that this served as a pretext for his sudden fall. Regardless, Hidetsugu does appear to have become concerned about his own fate after the birth of Hideyori and took certain protective steps that Hideyoshi elected to see as signs of treason. That Hidetsugu had enemies within the Toyotomi's inner circle--including Ishida Mitsunari and very possibly Yodo gimi--is clear and no doubt contributed to his fate. A man of some learning, Hidetsugu nonetheless had a reputation for cruelty that, according to Luis Frois and such sources as the Taikôki, was centered on his delight for killing. His behavior may in fact have played a part in Hideyoshi's decision to eliminate Hidetsugu - the same man Hideyoshi had promised to make the kanpaku of China (in a document dated 6/92). In any event, there is very little documentation from which one can draw a sketch of the personal relationship between Hideyoshi and Hidetsugu. That Hideyoshi elevated Hidetsugu only after the deaths of Tsurumatsu and Hidenaga is at any rate telling.

In his time, Hidetsugu was actually known as 'Hidetsugi'.