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Akechi Mitsuhide / (1528-July 2 1582)
Nicknamed the Jusan Kubo, or “Thirteen Day Ruler”, Akechi Mitsuhide is best remembered
as the traitor responsible for the death of Oda Nobunaga.
Mitsuhide was said to have been born possibly in Kyoto, but more likely in Kani, Mino Province
(Gifu Prefecture). He came into the service of Oda Nobunaga following Nobunaga’s conquest
of Mino in 1566. Nobunaga rarely placed much trust in his followers, however he highly valued
Shibata Katsuie, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Akechi Mitsuhide.
Mitsuhide was the first of these samurai to be awarded a castle, Sakamoto in Omi (Shiga Prefecture),
by Nobunaga, and later received Kamiyama in Tamba. Despite his advances and loyal service, Nobunaga
appears to have treated the man severely, reprimanding and publicly humiliating the samurai in front of
his peers, and even foreign travelers of the day who recorded such insults in their journals.
This mistreatment has been forwarded as one of the reasons for his treachery.
Another reason could well be the Hatano incident. Mitsuhide was ordered to attack the Hatano of Tamba
Province. In an attempt to control the situation without bloodshed, he offered the Hatano a chance to
surrender to Nobunaga and join forces. Mitsuhide took the Hatano Lord’s mother and family as a goodwill
gesture to Nobunaga, who promptly had the old lady and family members executed. Some time later, the retainers of the Hatano found Mitsuhide’s mother and had her killed in revenge. This could well have been
the prime reason that would serve to turn Mitsuhide against his master.
His chance came five years later. On June 21, 1582, Mitsuhide was supposed to have assisted Hideyoshi
in his prolonged attack on the Mori clan in the western most provinces of Honshu. Instead, Mistuhide
directed his 13,000 samurai to the Honno-Ji, a temple in Kyoto where Nobunaga was billeted with just
a handful of bodyguards. Mitsuhide’s troops surrounded the Honnoji, and in the melee, Nobunaga was
wounded.The Great General retired into the burning temple where he is believed to have committed
seppuku amongst the flames. Although Mitsuhide did not personally kill Nobunaga, he claimed responsibility.
The betrayal shocked the nation. Mitsuhide then claimed the title of Shogun based on his ancestry.
Mitsuhide had expected little adversary to his coup, as he believed Hideyoshi was preoccupied with
the attack on the Mori. Hideyoshi, however, quickly and peacefully resolved the situation with the Mori,
and was able to relocate his army within four days to Yamazaki catching Mitsuhide by surprise.
Two hours after engaging, the traitor’s army was routed.
While escaping from the ruinous Battle of Yamazaki, Mitsuhide was killed by a group of peasants
wielding bamboo staves. He was 54 years old, and had been self proclaimed Shogun for all of
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