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Oichi

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  • Died: 1583
  • Distinction: Sister of Oda Nobunaga


Few women in Japanese history have quite the pathos of Oichi, a sister of Oda Nobunaga renowned for her beauty. She was initially married to Shibata Katsuie after the latter begged pardon for an abortive rebellion in 1557. Following Nobunaga's conquest of Mino in 1567, Nobunaga made Shibata divorce Oichi so that she might be sent as wife to the young Asai Nagamasa, lord of North Ômi province. Through Nagamasa she bore one son (Manpukumaru)[1] and three daughters. Unfortunately, Nagamasa betrayed his alliance with Nobunaga in 1570 and went to war with him on behalf of the Asakura family. The fighting continued for three years until the Asakura were destroyed and Nagamasa's Odani Castle was surrounded. Nobunaga requested that his sister be returned to him, and this Nagamasa allowed, sending out Oichi and her three daughters, as well as Manpukumaru. Nagamasa then perished, and Manpukumaru was soon put to death by Nobunaga, leaving Oichi to be shuffled back to Katsuie (though when this happened seems to be a point of debate).

In 1583, following Nobunaga's death, Shibata Katsuie and Toyotomi Hideyoshi went to war over the issue of succession. Katsuie's army was crushed at Shizugatake in the hills of northern Ômi, and the old general himself (who had not been present at the battle) shut himself up in Kitanoshō castle with the intention of committing suicide. He begged Oichi to take her daughters and flee but to no avail. Oichi did send her daughters into Hideyoshi's care, but stayed herself to die with Katsuie as his castle was engulfed in flames.

One of her daughters, the future Yodogimi would add yet another element of tragedy to this tale, although another would marry Tokugawa Hidetada - the 2nd Tokugawa shôgun - and produce the 3rd shôgun, Iemitsu.

Notes

  1. It is more likely that Manpukumaru was actually the son of one of Nagamasa's concubines

References

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