Lifespan: Eishō 15 (1518) to 5/28 of Keichō 7 (1602)
Name Changes: Hironari → Nobunaga Hironari → Hironari
Other Names: Tokutarō, Gorōzaemon, Bizen-no-kami, Bitchū-no-kami, Katsunari, Jibukyō, High Priest Kūseki
Lord: Saitō Dōsan → Saitō Yoshitatsu → Saitō Tatsuoki → Imagawa Ujizane → Azai Nagamasa → Oda Nobunaga → Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Father: Hineno Kurōzaemon-no-jō
Siblings: Hironari, Morinari, Genta
Wife: Daughter of Ōhata Sadayori (aunt of Kanamori Nagachika), daughter of Kanamori Arishige
Children: Takayoshi, Nobuakira (head of the Entsuan hermitage), Yoshitoki, Hiromasa, Hirokatsu, sister (wife of Asano Ujitsugu), Yoshitsugu (adopted from Kanamori Masachika)
Hineno Hironari served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods. He was the lord of Honda Castle in Mino Province.
Service as a retainer of the Saitō clan
Hironari first served Saitō Dōsan and distinguished himself owing to the important roles that he performed for Dōsan’s son, Saitō Yoshitatsu. On 10/22 of Kōji 1 (1555), acting upon orders of Yoshitatsu, Hironari slayed with his sword two of Yoshitatsu’s younger brothers of a different mother, Saitō Magoshirō and Saitō Kiheiji, at the base of Yoshitatsu at Inabayama Castle. After Yoshitatsu garnered control of the Saitō clan, Hironari served as a senior retainer and, after the death from illness of Yoshitatsu, he continued to serve in this capacity for Yoshitatsu’s son, Saitō Tatsuoki. During the Eiroku era (1558 to 1570), numerous documents were issued under the joint signatures of Hironari and Ujiie Naomoto, Andō Morinari, and Takegoshi Hisamitsu, and also under the names of the preceding individuals in addition to Hineno Kiyozane and Nagai Hiroyasu.
Thereafter, the Western Mino Group of Three including Morinari (with whom Hironari was on bad terms) were suspected of colluding with the Oda family. Hironari then appealed to Azai Katamasa (later known as Nagamasa) of Ōmi Province to deploy to the territory controlled by this group to contain them. In 1564, Morinari and Morinari’s son-in-law, Takenaka Shigeharu, occupied Inabayama Castle, forcing Hironari and his lord, Tatsuoki, to leave the castle. Beginning in 1566, Hironari changed his surname to Nobunaga (the Nobunaga were retainers of the Isshiki clan serving as deputy military governors of Tango Province) and called himself Nobunaga Bitchū-no-kami Hironari.
Hironari followed Tatsuoki and continued to resist the Oda, but in the eighth month of 1567, Inabayama Castle fell to the Oda while the Western Mino Group of Three fully aligned themselves with Nobunaga. The Saitō as a daimyō family was extinguished. As a result, Hironari lost his landholdings and together with his younger brother, Hineno Morinari, became a rōnin, or wandering samurai.
Period as a rōnin, or wandering samurai
After the demise of the Saitō clan, Hironari and the Hineno family served Imagawa Ujizane of Tōtōmi Province. According to one account, they went to the Kantō. On 12/27 of Eiroku 11 (1568), Asahina Yasutomo, the lord of Kakegawa Castle engaged in battle against Ishikawa Kazumasa, a retainer of the Tokugawa clan. Hineno Genta and Suzuki Shinemon, retainers of Hironari, were killed. On 1/12 of Eiroku 12 (1569), Hironari defended Mount Tennō in battle against Tokugawa Ieyasu. On 1/18, Hironari and his brother, Morinari, stormed Kanemaruyama fortress (which was aligned with the Tokugawa) and defeated Kuno Munenobu and Ogasawara Ujioki. Hironari further defeated members of the Okazaki clan who rushed to assist the enemy forces. News of the defeat upset Ieyasu and he reprimanded the Kuno. The Imagawa, however, were no match for the Tokugawa and later that year Kakegawa Castle was vacated and, once again, the members of the Hineno family became rōnin.
After the fall of the Imagawa clan, he marched west and headed toward Ōmi. He cultivated friendly relations with Imai Hidekata and Shima Hideyasu, dogō, or small-scale landowners in Ōmi, but then finally served Azai Nagamasa. In the winter of 1572, he left the Azai family and participated in the Nagashima Ikkō-ikki where he was assigned to defend a new fortress near Gifu.
In the eighth month of 1571, Kennyo, the eleventh high priest of the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple, sent a letter to Isshiki Shikibu Taifu (Saitō Tatsuoki) who, at the time, was under the Asakura clan of Echizen Province, sending wishes for Tatsuoki to realize his aims. He also presented him with gold pieces and a long sword. There are letters from 乗了of the Annyō Temple in the Gujō District of Mino and Senshō of the Senshō Temple in the Ōno District of Echizen in the eighth month of 1572 to Shimotsuma Raitan, the director of the Hongan Temple, regarding the progress of plans by Lord Isshiki to enter the province which plan included orders for the cooperation of monks from the Gujō and Ōno districts. Shortly before this time, in the first month of the same year, there is a letter from Tatsuoki (calling himself Isshiki Yoshinori) to 乗了 stating that Senshō persuaded the Endō clan and that Tatsuoki himself planned to dispatch Hineno Hironari to Nagashima but Senshō fell ill so the plans were postponed.
Based on these documents, it is understood that there was a plan to enter the former territory of Hironari in Mino and conduct a pincer attack with the Asakura clan and Tatsuoki (backed by monks from Mino) approaching from the north (Echizen) and Hironari (backed by monks from Nagashima) approaching from the south (Ise). There is a letter from Kennyo suggesting that the plan was in fact executed in the winter of the same year. Owing to snow, however, the Asakura army returned to Echizen and Tatsuoki appeared to do the same while Hironari returned to Nagashima.
Hironari sent a vessel to transport women and children to Ōminato, a harbor in Ise. A letter from Ban Naomasa dated 9/20 of Tenshō 1 (1573) stated, in accordance with the will of Nobunaga, that it was an injustice for the Hineno to dispatch a vessel for this purpose and the captain and crew should definitely be executed. Later, after it was discovered that a father and son from the Fukushima family in Yamada cooperated with the Hineno, they were executed.
On 9/29 of Tenshō 2 (1574), an all-out assault by the Oda army decimated the Ikkō-ikki of Nagashima and the Hineno family fled from Nagashima.
A while later, after opposing Nobunaga for many years, Hironari surrendered. Although the timing is uncertain, from around the time that he based his operations in Ōmi, he acquired a residence and castle in Hiramatsu and resided in this location.
Service as a retainer of the Oda clan
After entering service for the Oda, Hironari was a member of the umamawari, or cavalry. In the eighth month of 1575, he participated in the subjugation of the Echizen Ikkō-ikki and, together with Endō Yoshitaka, invaded Echizen Province. The Hineno battalion traversed the Shiroki Pass, invaded the Anama Valley, and destroyed the ikki forces defending the location. In the eleventh month of 1578, he participated in the Siege of Arioka Castle to quell a rebellion by Araki Murashige, a retainer of Oda Nobunaga.
In the third month of 1580, beginning with his younger brother, Morinari, land for residences was allocated in Azuchi to Rokurōemon, Hanzaemon, Kanemon, and Goemon. Members of the Hineno family other than Hironari were also promoted to serve as umamawari, or cavalry, in the Oda army.
On 6/2 of Tenshō 10 (1582), Oda Nobunaga died in a coup d’état in Kyōto known as the Honnō Temple Incident. At the time of this event, Hironari was staying in the capital but did not attempt to rush to join the clashes at either the Honnō Temple or the Nijō palace. Instead, he bided his time and exchanged letters with Satō Hidekata in Mino regarding the future course of events. After the Battle of Yamazaki, he informed Endō Yoshitaka of the state of affairs in the capital.
Service as a retainer of the Toyotomi clan
In the fifth month of 1583, Hironari, together with Ikeda Tsuneoki, issued a prohibition against the Zuiryū Temple in Mino. After the Battle of Shizugatake, it appears that Hironari was granted landholdings in Mino. In the third month of 1584, upon orders of Hideyoshi, he deployed to Ise Province. He then went to Owari for the Battle of Komaki-Nagakute. Hironari and his younger brother, Morinari, were assigned to defend the Futaebori fortress in a strategic location. Numerous small-scale clashes against the Tokugawa army yielded many losses but they retained control of the fortress. On 5/1, he followed the main force of the Hashiba army in a change of course to Mino, abandoned the fortress, and commenced a withdrawal serving along with Hosokawa Tadaoki, Kimura Shigekore, Hasegawa Hidekazu, and Mikoda Masaharu in the rear guard. These forces fought against a contingent led by Oda Nobukatsu who pursued the retreating army.
In the seventh month of 1585, Hironari served under Hashiba Hidetsugu in the Invasion of Shikoku and attacked Waki Castle in Awa Province. Thereafter, he incurred the wrath of Hideyoshi and was temporarily banished. In 1590, he was pardoned and returned to service. During the Bunroku-Keichō Campaign on the Korean Peninsula, Hironari served as a messenger for Hideyoshi and crossed to Korea. In 1595, after the Hidetsugu Incident, the Toyotomi reordered landholdings and at the end of this process Hironari had a combined fief of 16,000 koku in Ise, Owari, and Mikawa provinces.
In 1600, during the Battle of Sekigahara, Hironari remained neutral with respect to the two sides of the war (the western and eastern armies). As a result, after the war, his fief was reduced.
Hironari died on 5/28 of Keichō 7 (1602). His landholdings were forfeit to the bakufu. His grandson, Hineno Yoshiaki, the lord of the Shinano-Suwa domain, did join the Eastern Army at the Battle of Sekigahara. Nevertheless, in 1601, his landholdings, or ishidaka, were reduced by more than one-half and he was transferred to the Mibu domain in Shimotsuke Province.
According to one theory, Hironari concealed evidence of collusion with the Western Army and took his own life, but there are no authenticated sources to support this view so it remains in the realm of folklore.
Hironari crafted many pieces of armor and helmets. In particular, the curved design of the Hineno helmet was useful in battle for protection against arquebus fire. He became known in later eras for the design of his helmet. This helmet design became popular in the late Sengoku period and many individuals including Tokugawa Ieyasu, Sanada Nobushige (Yukimura), Ii Naomasa, Tachibana Muneshige, and Sen-no-rikyū used the Hineno helmet as model upon which to add their own ornamentation.