The Battle of Sekigahara c.1600

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Map Code: Ax01270

The battle of Sekigahara exemplified the tortuousness of Japanese feudal politics rather than military prowess. The death of strongman Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1598) left the regents of his infant son in control of western Japan. Eastern Japan was the fiefdom of Tokugawa Ieyasu. On a foggy morning in October 1600, armies of the two factions faced one another across the Sekigahara River. Superficially, the leader of the western forces, Ishida Mitsunari, had the advantage. He occupied a strong defensive position and had numerical superiority. But Ieyasu had deep pockets, and Ishida, an imperial bureaucrat, did not command unquestioning loyalty from the daimyo (feudal warlords) who commanded the contingents of his army. One of these, Hideaki was on the right flank; he was bribed in advance by Ieyasu and switched sides in mid-battle. Others followed suit, and Ishida was routed and later executed. Under the Tokugawa Shogunate, Japan would be preserved in feudal aspic until 1868.

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