Chiba Noritane


Chiba Clan


Shimōsa Province

Lifespan:  5/2 of Kakitsu 3 (1443), 7/18 of Kakitsu 3 (1443), or Bunan 1 (1444) to 8/19 of Eishō 2 (1505)

Rank:  bushō

Bakufu:  Muromachi

Clan:  Chiba

Father:  Chiba Suketane

Siblings:  Noritane, Shiizaki Tadatane

Children:  Katsutane

Chiba Noritane served as a bushō from the mid-Muromachi period to the early Sengoku period.  Noritane was the eldest son of Chiba Suketane, the twenty-first head of the Chiba clan.

His date of birth is uncertain and may have been either on 5/2 of Kakitsu 3 (1443), 7/18 of Kakitsu 3 (1443), or in Bunan 1 (1444).

Details of his succession to become the head of the clan

At the height of the Kyōtoku Conflict, after Tō Tsuneyori arrived at the encampment in the eleventh month of 1455, Noritane was ousted.  Hara Tanefusa absconded while Makuwari Yasutane and his son, Makuwari Tanemochi, were killed.  Chiba Sanetane, the lineal heir to the Chiba clan, lacked the power to take control of Shimōsa.  Tō Tsuneyori returned to Kyōto in the fourth month of 1469 owing to territorial issues in Mino Province arising from the Ōnin-Bunmei War and, in 1471, received secret interpretations of classical poems from a scholar named Sōgi.

As a result, the Iwahashi clan (a name given by Suketane to an illegitimate child of Makuwari Yasutane) which owned land near the village of Iwahashi in the Intō manor in the Inba District of Shimōsa adopted the title of head of the Chiba clan.  Although the Muromachi bakufu ousted Ashikaga Shigeuji (the Koga kubō) from Kamakura, it did not have enough power to eliminate him so, in a bid to expand his influence, Noritane aligned himself with Shigeuji and this lineage was also referred to as the Chiba clan.

Noritane and the Kyōtoku Conflict

Around 1471, Noritane’s father, Chiba Suketane, entered the priesthood so he succeeded him as head of the clan.  This is the first time that he used the title as head of the clan.  In the third month of 1471, Ashikaga Shigeuji (the Koga kubō), along with Noritane and others, sent soldiers to Mishima in Izu Province with the objective to eliminate Ashikaga Masatomo (the Horigoe kubō).

Initially, Masatomo had only a small number of forces under his command, but by converging with the army of the Yamanouchi-Uesugi family, he regained his power and the forces including those under Noritane in the course of withdrawing were thoroughly pummeled.  Moreover, in the fourth month, Nagao Kagenobu, the head of house affairs for the Yamanouchi-Uesugi family, attacked the Ashikaga manor in Shimōsa.  On 6/24, Koga Castle was toppled.  As a result, Shigeuji lost his place to go and stayed in the territory of Noritane.

In the second month of 1472, with the support of Noritane, Yūki Ujihiro, and Nasu Sukezane, Koga Castle was recaptured and Shigeuji returned.  Thereafter, in 1476, Nagao Kageharu (the eldest son of Nagao Kagenobu) betrayed Uesugi Akisada and went to Bushū-Hachigata Castle to side with Shigeuji after becoming upset that his uncle, Nagao Tadakage, would become the successor to the head of house affairs for the Yamanouchi-Uesugi family.  In an event known as the Revolt of Nagao Kageharu, the dispute gradually slid toward an all-out showdown.

Concerned by these developments, peace negotiations proceeded among Shigeuji, the Yamanouchi-Uesugi family, and the Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi family.  However, in the event of a settlement, Noritane would not be able to proclaim himself the head of the Chiba clan, so, along with Kageharu, he opposed the negotiations.  While having Shigeuji act as his nominal lord, he detailed a plan to prevent a return to Koga Castle.  In 1473, he constructed Nagasaki Castle and moved his main base.

A settlement was reached by the Muromachi bakufu on one side and the Koga kubō, the Yamauchi-Uesugi family and the Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi family on the other, while the rebel forces were limited to Kageharu and Noritane.  The men were then targeted by the bakufu (backed by Ōta Dōkan) which recognized Chiba Yoritane (the younger brother of Sanetane) as the head of the Chiba clan.  On 12/10 of Bunmei 10 (1478), Noritane was roundly defeated as the Battle of Sakainehara and unable to keep Nagasaki Castle.  He gathered his forces and retreated to mount another defense from Usui Castle, but, on 7/15 of Bunmei 11 (1479), the castle fell while Yoritane took control of the majority of Shimōsa and Kazusa provinces.

Noritane’s movements at this time are not certain, but in the chaos accompanying the fall of the castle, he took cover and likely established a base at Shinozuka Castle and battled against Yoritane.  He may also have returned to the village of Iwahashi in the Intō manor that served as the base of his father.  Meanwhile, no problems arose in regard to Motosakura Castle which was built around 1484.  Although Dōkan built Mabashi Castle to keep Noritane in check, the governance by Noritane of a portion of Shimōsa may have been recognized.

There was a strong movement among the generals in Shimōsa and Kazusa provinces to support Noritane whereas Yoritane (who did not have their support) only placed proxies in these locations so he could not secure his governance over a long period.  Based on a settlement between the Muromachi bakufu and Shigeuji in 1482, followed by the assassination of Ōta Dōkan in 1486, Yoritane lost his patrons and, after losing control of Shimōsa, is surmised to have died in 1493. Thereafter, the Musashi-Chiba clan no longer invaded Shimōsa and, as a result, having maintained his position to abide by the Koga kubō, Noritane secured his governance of the Shimōsa-Chiba territory.

In this manner, the Kyōtoku Conflict came to a close, but battles serving as catalysts for the Ōnin-Bunmei War continued in many places, ushering in the Sengoku period.

Later years

Thereafter, Noritane constructed Motosakura Castle to serve as the base for his governance of Shimōsa.  On 2/15 of Entoku 4 (1492), his father died so he entered the priesthood while Katsutane succeeded him as head of the clan.  Nevertheless, Noritane continued to be the real holder of power in the family.  During the Bunki (1501 to 1504) and Eishō (1504 to 1521) eras, in an event known as the Shinozuka Campaign, Ashikaga Masauji (the Koga kubō) attacked the Chiba clan, but Noritane, together with Katsutane, was able to defend Motosakura Castle so the two sides settled.  Noritane is believed to have died either on 9/26 of Eishō 2 (1505) before the coming-of-age ceremony for his grandson, Chiba Masatane, or, on 8/19 of Eishō 18 (1521).


In the course of meetings to reach a settlement in the Shinozuka Campaign, a messenger of the Koga kubō  approached Noritane, as the holder of real power in the Chiba clan, with a proposal that Noritane’s eldest son, Chiba Katsutane, be conferred one of the characters from the name of Ashikaga Masauji (as the Koga kubō).  Noritane responded by noting that, for generations, a coming-of-age ceremony was held for the head of the Chiba clan at the Chiba-Myōken Shrine and that the character was adopted via a lottery, so receiving one of the characters from the Koga kubō was unnecessary.  In that case, the messenger proposed that one of the characters be conferred upon his second son, but Noritane replied that the second son would receive the character from the first son, so he refused again.  This reflected the fact that the Shimōsa-Chiba clan founded by Makuwari Yasutane was not recognized by the Imperial court and the Muromachi bakufu as the legitimate head of the Chiba clan.  Furthermore, owing to a deterioration of the Imperial Court and the bakufu in the wake of the Ōnin-Bunmei War, as well as the collapse of the system under which daimyō in the Kantō served the Kamakura kubō, the Shimōsa-Chiba clan did not have a clearly defined lord to obey.  Consequently, the authority of the head of the family had its basis in their shared beliefs in the Buddhist deity known as Myōken.  From the perspective of the lord of the province, this anecdote highlights the degree to which the Shimōsa-Chiba clan had provincial roots.