Gotō Ienobu


Gotō Clan


Hizen Province

Lifespan:  6/5 of Eiroku 6 (1563) to 4/2 of Genna 8 (1622)

Name Changes:  Tsurujinōmaru (childhood) → Ienobu

Other Names:  Zenjirō (common)

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Governor of Hōki

Clan:  Ryūzōji → Hizen-Gotō

Father:  Ryūzōji Takanobu

Adoptive Father:  Gotō Takaaki

Mother:  Daughter of Ryūzōji Iekado

Siblings:  Ryūzōji Masaie, Ryūzōji Takahira, Egami Ietane, Ienobu, Tamatsuruhime (wife of Kamachi Shigenami), Oyasu, sister (wife of Kuramachi Nobutoshi)

Wife:  Tuschiichi (daughter of Gotō Takaaki)

Children:  Nabeshima Shigetsuna, Nabeshima Shigenobu

Gotō Ienobu served as a bushō during the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo periods.  He was the twentieth head of the Hizen-Gotō clan.

Period prior to the Battle of Okitanawate

In 1563, Ienobu was born as the fourth son of Ryūzōji Takanobu.  In 1577, Gotō Takaaki sent his son, Haruaki (later known as Ryūzōji 家均) for adoption by the Ryūzōji clan.  In exchange, Takanobu sent Ienobu to wed Takaaki’s daughter (Tsuchiichi) and become Takaaki’s adopted son-in-law.  The Gotō and Ryūzōji clans had a complex history between them, at times reconciling and at times coming into conflict.  Nevertheless, as Takanobu gained power, the Gotō were compelled to accept Ienobu as the designated heir to the family.  By this means, the Ryūzōji bloodline continued until the Meiji Restoration.

As a member of the Gotō, Ienobu participated in many battles led by the Ryūzōji.  In 1579, during invasions led by Takanobu of Chikugo and Higo provinces, Ienobu joined a siege to topple Koga Castle in Miike.  In battles against clans in Higo including the Sagara, the Mera, the Uto, and the Asō, he captured 800 heads.  In 1580, Ienobu followed his older brother, Ryūzōji Masaie, to join an assault against Kamachi Shigenami of Yanagawa.  This is known as the Battle of Yanagawa.  In 1581, Ienobu, together with Masaie and another one of his brothers, Egami Ietane, invaded Higo and forced the surrender of Akahoshi Muneie (the lord of Waifu Castle) and had Kai Chikanao (Sōun, the lord of Mifune Castle) and Jō Chikakata (the lord of Kumamoto Castle) tender written pledges of allegiance to Takanobu to secure the territory.  In 1582, after Tajiri Akitane rebelled against Takanobu, the Ryūzōji army led by Masaie as the commanding general and Ienobu and Nabeshima Naoshige as lieutenant generals, attacked him.

According to the accounts of Luís Fróis, a Jesuit missionary residing in Japan during the Sengoku period, in the tenth month, Ienobu sent a messenger to Gaspar Coelho, the Superior and Vice-Provincial of the Jesuit mission in Japan based in Nagasaki, offering to establish ties with the Jesuit mission on the condition by the Jesuits that he donate land and adopt the religion.  Owing to opposition from his natural father, Takanobu, Ienobu abandoned the idea.

Period after the Battle of Okitanawate

In 1584, at the Battle of Okitanawate, the Ryūzōji suffered a loss to the allied forces of the Shimazu and Hizen-Arima clans.  Takanonbu was killed in the battle while Ienobu fled.  He left Gotōyama Castle (Tsukazaki Castle) in Takeo, moving his base to the stronghold of Sumiyoshi Castle.  After the death of Takanobu, Ienobu approached Gaspar Coelho again in regard to joining the Christian religion.  Nevertheless, owing to the death in battle of his father, retainers of the Ryūzōji clan, and scornful treatment toward him from his siblings, he went mad and was unable to exercise proper judgment whereupon he was incarcerated and kept under supervision.

In 1587, Ienobu served in a conquest of the Shimazu clan by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, advancing to Yunoura in Higo.  In 1590, upon the retirement of Ryūzōji Masaie, a record of landholdings was given by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to Ienobu which noted total holdings of 19,703.9 koku comprised of 3,379.2 koku in Nagashima in the Kishima District, 9,364.8 koku in Tsukazaki-no-shō in the Kishima District, 3,659.2 koku in Arita in the Shimo-Matsuura District, and 330.7 koku in Tōgō in the Ogi District of Hizen.

Thereafter, Ienobu served in the deployments to Korea led by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.  First, in 1592, during the Bunroku Campaign, he followed Katō Kiyomasa, defending 徳原城.  In an effort to capture two Korean princes (Imhaegun and Sunhwagun) he advanced as far as the lands of the Uriankhai (Mongolia) in northeast China.

Next, in the first month of 1594, he returned to Japan.  During the Keichō Campaign, in 1597, he traveled to Korea again.  In the first month of 1598, during the Siege of Ulsan, Ienobu helped rescue Katō Kiyomasa.  Kiyomasa later recognized his contributions by awarding him a long sword and 30 cannons.  Afterwards, Ienobu became ill so he returned to Japan and, in his place, sent his lineal heir, Gotō Shigetsuna to Korea.

In 1601, a system was introduced by the Edo bakufu by which daimyō and their senior retainers were required to send family members to reside in Edo.  In the case of daimyō, this included their wives and children and, in the case of chief retainers, other family members were sent essentially as hostages.  This provided leverage to the bakufu against any possible rebellions that could destabilize their governance in other provinces.  To comply with these orders, in 1602, Ienobu sent his third son, Nabeshima Shigenobu, to Edo.

Ienobu died in 1622.