Tokugawa Ieyasu - Ieyasu As A Person

Ieyasu As A Person

Ieyasu had a number of qualities that enabled him to rise to power. He was both careful and bold—at the right times, and at the right places. Calculating and subtle, Ieyasu switched alliances when he thought he would benefit from the change. He allied with the Hōjō clan; then he joined Hideyoshi's army of conquest, which destroyed the Hōjō clan; and he himself took over their lands. In this he was like other daimyo of his time. This was an era of violence, sudden death, and betrayal. He was not very well liked nor personally popular, but he was feared and he was respected for his leadership and his cunning. For example, he wisely kept his soldiers out of Hideyoshi's campaign in Korea.

He was capable of great loyalty: once he allied with Oda Nobunaga, he never went against Nobunaga; and both leaders profited from their long alliance. He was known for being loyal towards his personal friends and vassals, whom he rewarded, He was said to have a close friendship with his vassal Hattori Hanzo. However, he also remembered those who had wronged him in the past. It is said that Ieyasu executed a man who came into his power because he had insulted him when Ieyasu was young.

Ieyasu protected many former Takeda retainers from the wrath of Oda Nobunaga, who was known to harbor a bitter grudge towards the Takeda. He managed to successfully transform many of the retainers of the Takeda, Hōjō, and Imagawa clans—all whom he had defeated himself or helped to defeat—into loyal followers.

He had nineteen wives and concubines, by whom he had eleven sons and five daughters. The eleven sons of Ieyasu were:

  • Matsudaira Nobuyasu (松平 信康)
  • Yūki Hideyasu (結城 秀康)
  • Tokugawa Hidetada (徳川 秀忠)
  • Matsudaira Tadayoshi (松平 忠吉)
  • Takeda Nobuyoshi (武田 信吉)
  • Matsudaira Tadateru (松平 忠輝)
  • Matsuchiyo (松千代)
  • Senchiyo (仙千代)
  • Tokugawa Yoshinao (徳川 義直)
  • Tokugawa Yorinobu (徳川 頼宣)
  • Tokugawa Yorifusa (徳川 頼房)

(In this listing, the two sons without surnames died before adulthood.) His daughters were Kame hime (亀姫), Toku hime (徳姫), Furi hime (振姫), Matsu hime (松姫), Eishōin hime (_姫), and Ichi hime (市姫). He is said to have cared for his children and grandchildren, establishing three of them, Yorinobu, Yoshinao, and Yorifusa as the daimyos of Kii, Owari, and Mito provinces, respectively. At the same time, he could be ruthless when crossed. For example, he ordered the executions of his first wife and his eldest son—a son-in-law of Oda Nobunaga; Oda was also an uncle of Hidetada's wife Oeyo.

After Hidetada became shogun, he married Oeyo of the Oda clan and they had two sons, Tokugawa Iemitsu and Tokugawa Tadanaga. They also had two daughters, one of whom, Sen hime, married twice. The other daughter, Kazuko hime, married Emperor Go-Mizunoo of descent from the Fujiwara clan.

Ieyasu's favorite pastime was falconry. He regarded it as excellent training for a warrior. "When you go into the country hawking, you learn to understand the military spirit and also the hard life of the lower classes. You exercise your muscles and train your limbs. You have any amount of walking and running and become quite indifferent to heat and cold, and so you are little likely to suffer from any illness.". Ieyasu swam often; even late in his life he is reported to have swum in the moat of Edo Castle.

Later in life he took to scholarship and religion, patronizing scholars like Hayashi Razan.

Two of his famous quotes:

"Life is like unto a long journey with a heavy burden. Let thy step be slow and steady, that thou stumble not. Persuade thyself that imperfection and inconvenience are the lot of natural mortals, and there will be no room for discontent, neither for despair. When ambitious desires arise in thy heart, recall the days of extremity thou hast passed through. Forbearance is the root of all quietness and assurance forever. Look upon the wrath of thy enemy. If thou only knowest what it is to conquer, and knowest not what it is to be defeated; woe unto thee, it will fare ill with thee. Find fault with thyself rather than with others."
"The strong manly ones in life are those who understand the meaning of the word patience. Patience means restraining one's inclinations. There are seven emotions: joy, anger, anxiety, adoration, grief, fear, and hate, and if a man does not give way to these he can be called patient. I am not as strong as I might be, but I have long known and practiced patience. And if my descendants wish to be as I am, they must study patience."

He claimed that he fought, as a warrior or a general, in 90 battles.

He was interested in various kenjutsu skills, was a patron of the Yagyū Shinkage-ryū school, and also had them as his personal sword instructors.

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