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Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長 Oda Nobunaga, June 23, 1534 - June 21, 1582) was a major daimyo during the Sengoku period of Japanese history. Son of Oda Nobuhide, a minor warlord with meager land holdings in Owari Province, Oda lived a life of continuous military conquest to eventually conquer most of Japan before his untimely death in 1582.
Militarily, Oda's revolutionary dreaming not only changed the way war was fought in Japan, but also in turn made one of the most modernized forces in the world at that time. He developed, implemented, and expanded the use of long pikes, firearms, ironclad ships, and castle fortifications in accordance with the expanded mass battles of the period. Oda also instituted a specialized warrior class system and appointed his retainers and subjects to positions based on ability, not wholly based on name, rank, or family relationship as in prior periods. Retainers were also given land on the basis of rice output, not land size. Oda's organizational system in particular was later used and extensively developed by his ally Tokugawa Ieyasu in the forming of the Tokugawa shogunate in Edo.
Oda's dominance and brilliance was not restricted to the battlefield, for he also was a keen businessman and understood the principles of microeconomics and macroeconomics. First, in order to modernize the economy from an agricultural base to a manufacture and service base, castle towns were developed as the center and basis of local economies. Roads were also made within his domain between castle towns to not only facilitate trade, but also to move armies great distances in short timespans. International trade was also expanded beyond China and the Korean peninsula, while nanban (southern barbarian) trade with Europe, the Philippines, Siam, and Indonesia was also started.
Oda also instituted rakuichi rakuza policies as a way to stimulate business and the overall economy. These policies abolished and prohibited monopolies and opened once closed and privileged unions, associations, and guilds, which he saw as impediments to commerce. He also developed tax exemptions and established laws to regulate and ease the borrowing of debt.
As Oda conquered Sengoku period Japan and amassed a great amount of wealth, he progressively supported the arts for which he always had an interest, but which he later and gradually more importantly used as a display of his power and prestige. He built extensive gardens and castles which were themselves great works of art. Azuchi castle on the shores of Lake Biwa is said to be the greatest castle in the history of Japan, covered with gold and statues on the outside and decorated with standing screen, sliding door, wall, and ceiling paintings made by his subject Kano Eitoku on the inside. Oda is remembered in Japan as one of the most brutal figures of the Sengoku period. During this time, Oda's subject and tea master Sen no Rikyu established the Japanese tea ceremony which Oda popularized and used originally as a way to talk politics and business. The beginnings of modern kabuki were started and later fully developed in the early Edo period. Additionally, Oda was very interested in European culture which was still very new to Japan. He collected pieces of Western art as well as arms and armour. He is considered to be among the first Japanese people in recorded history to wear European clothes. He also became the patron of the Jesuit missionaries in Japan, although he never converted to Christianity.
Oda was the first of three unifiers during the Sengoku-Jidai period. These unifiers were (in order) Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Oda Nobunaga was well on his way to the complete conquest and unification of Japan when Akechi Mitsuhide, one of his generals, killed Oda in a coup. Akechi then proceeded to declare himself shogun, but was quickly defeated by Oda`s general Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
Oda in fiction
Oda has been made popular through fictionalized references in video games (such as Onimusha) and anime, often portrayed as a villain with monstrous help as the source of his power. In other videogames like Kessen III Oda Nobunaga is portrayed as a hero.
- 1534 Born the second (or maybe third) son of Oda Nobuhide however is the first son not born to a concubine so is heir to the Oda clan and domain.
- 1542 Becomes master of Nagoya castle around the age of seven. Is separated from father and mother who raise his younger brother Oda Nobuyuki at Suemori castle, while Oda is brought up alone by retainer Hirate Masahide.
- 1547 Oda sees first, however short, military action
- 1549 Marries Nouhime, daughter of Saito Dosan the daimyo of Mino province (Gifu prefecture). It is a political marriage set up by his father and Hirate Masahide.
Unification of Owari Province
- 1551 Father Nobuhide dies and Oda inherits domain. Becomes engaged in struggle with younger brother Nobuyuki for succession of the Oda clan and with others for total control of Owari province.
- 1552 Battle of Kaizu. Oda defeats the rebelling Oda Nobutomo.
- 1553 Retainer Hirate Masahide commits seppuku out of shame for Oda. Oda meets father-in-law Saito Dousan for the first time.
- 1555 Battle of Ino. Defeats younger brother Nobuyuki and Shibata Katsuie to become undisputed head of the Oda clan.
- 1556 Father-in-law Saito Dousan killed in coup in Mino province.
- 1557 Oda Nobuyuki again plans to overthrow Oda. Oda informed of the plot by Shibata Katsuie and in turn forces Nobuyuki to commit seppuku.
- 1558 Battle of Ukino. Defeats the Oda Nobukata, last of the rebelling relatives in Owari province.
- 1559 Oda goes to Kyoto to announce his unification of Owari province to the 13th Muromachi shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru.
First major campaign
- 1560 Battle of Okehazama. Defeats invading daimyo Imagawa Yoshimoto, ruler of the Mikawa (eastern Aichi prefecture), Totomi (western Shizuoka prefecture), and Suruga (eastern Shizuoka) provinces.
- 1562 Forms "Kiyosu alliance" with Matsudaira Motoyasu (later Tokugawa Ieyasu), new daimyo of Mikawa province.
- 1567 Oda invades and conquers Mino province. Starts to have ambitions of conquering all of Japan, calling it Tenka Fubu, "Conquer through military force".
- 1568 Oda Nobunaga marches his armies into Kyoto at the request of 14th Ashikaga shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki. With Kyoto conquered and Ashikaga Yoshiaki installed as a puppet shogun, the Azuchi-Momoyama period of Japanese history officially begins (overlaps with Muromachi period until 1573).
- 1570 Battle of Ane river (Battle of Anegawa). Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu defeat the combined forces of daimyos Asakura Yoshikage and Azai Nagamasa.
- 1571 Attacks and razes the Tendai warrior monk complex Enryakuji on Mt. Hiei near Kyoto.
- 1573 Invades and conquers Echizen and Wakasa provinces. Oda drives last Muromachi shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki out of Kyoto. The Muromachi shogunate ends.
Invasion of Chugoku (Western Honshu)
- 1575 Battle of Nagashino. Oda and Tokugawa Ieyasu defeat Takeda Katsuyori through the effective uses of muskets. First invasion of Tamba by general Akechi Mitsuhide.
- 1579 Akechi Mitsuhide invades Tanba for the 3rd time and finally conquers it. Settsu province also invaded and conquered. Mimasaka and Bizen provinces "given" to Oda.
- 1580 Miki Castle falls after 2 year siege by Oda's general Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Invades and conquers Tajima. Inaba province invaded.
- 1581 Toyotomi Hideyoshi lays siege to Tottori castle. Inaba province conquered.
- 1582 Toyotomi Hideyoshi invades Bitchu province. Takeda clan falls under the forces of Oda; Shinano, Kai, and Suruga provinces conquered. Oda falls in coup (Honnoji no Hen) by retainer Akechi Mitsuhide at Honnoji, Kyoto, known as the Incident of Honnoji.
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