Lifespan: Tenmon 11 (1542) to 4/20 of Tenshō 11 (1583)
Lord: Ikeda Katsumasa → Ikeda Tomomasa → Araki Murashige → Oda Nobunaga → Hashiba Hideyoshi
Father: Nakagawa Shigekiyo (Takayama Shigekiyo)
Mother: Daughter of Nakagawa Kiyomura (Shigetoshi)
Siblings: Kiyohide, Shigetsugu, Shigeyoshi, Shinpei, daughter (wife of Furuta Shigenari)
Wife: [Formal] Daughter of Kumada Sōhaku
Children: Hidemasa, Hidenari, Itohime (wife of Ikeda Terumasa)
Nakagawa Kiyohide served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.
In childhood, he was known as Toranosuke. His common name was Sebei and surname was Genji. In terms of lineage, he was a descendant of Tada Akitsuna (or the Ishikawa-Genji branch of the Kawachi-Genji) related to the Settsu-Genji line of the Sewa-Genji family. His father was Nakagawa Shigekiyo and his mother was the daughter of Nakagawa Kiyomura. He was a cousin of Takayama Ukon, a Christian daimyō.
In 1542, Kiyohide was born in Nakagawahara in the Fukui area of Settsu Province. First, he served Ikeda Katsumasa, a kokujin, or provincial landowner, in Settsu. After Oda Nobunaga marched upon Kyōto, he abided by the Oda. Later, after an internal disturbance in the main branch of the Ikeda clan by which Katsumasa was expelled and Ikeda Tomomasa became the head of the clan, he temporarily opposed Nobunaga.
In 1572, Kiyohide joined with Araki Murashige (who was also serving Ikeda Tomomasa) and, at the Battle of Shiraikawara, killed Wada Koremasa who was aligned with the Oda. After the battle, he became the lord of Ibaraki Castle which had been the base of the Ibaraki clan who were decimated in this battle.
After the successive collapse of powerful clans in Settsu including the Wada, the Ibaraki, the Itami, and the Ikeda, Kiyohide joined Murashige and Takayama Ukon as an independent power in Settsu. Later, after Nobunaga appointed Murashige as the lord of the province, Kiyohide supported him. In 1578, during a rebellion by Murashige against Nobunaga that led to the Siege of Arioka Castle, Kiyohide sided with Murashige, but when confronted with an all-out assault by the Oda army, Kiyohide and Ukon surrendered and became retainers of Nobunaga, after which he joined the attacking forces against Murashige. Thereafter, he participated in numerous battles under the command of Niwa Nagahide and Ikeda Tsuneoki.
On 6/2 of Tenshō 10 (1582), after the unexpected death of Oda Nobunaga in the coup d’état known as the Honnō Temple Incident, Kiyohide joined Ukon in support of Hashiba Hideyoshi and made significant contributions at the Battle of Yamazaki. In 1583, Kiyohide also participated in the second line of the vanguard units at the Battle of Shizugatake. However, while (together with Ukon and Miyoshi Nobuyoshi) defending Ōiwayama fortress, Kiyohide died in battle during a ferocious attack by Sakuma Morimasa, a valorous general in the army of Shibata Katsuie. He was forty-two years old at the time.
Kiyohide’s eldest son, Nakagawa Hidemasa, succeeded him as head of the family while Kiyohide’s second son, Nakagawa Hidenari, later became the first head of the Bungo-Oka domain and the Nakagawa family continued until the end of the Edo period.
In 1580, Kiyohide entered into a written pledge with Hideyoshi, evidencing their close relationship.
After the Battle of Yamazaki, as Hashiba Hideyoshi toured the formations from a palanquin, he said “Sebei, good effort” to which Kiyohide sarcastically responded in a loud voice, “Monkey, you’re acting like you conquered the country” whereupon Hideyoshi passed-by pretending not to hear.
Retainers of Kiyohide were said to be diverting military provisions to the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple which triggered the rebellion by Araki Murashige. If this was true, Kiyohide would have been the reason behind the rebellion and, after convincing Murashige to decisively resist despite Murashige’s allegiance to the Oda, he switched sides. This would have been very unusual even in the context of the upheaval of the Sengoku period. Moreover, there is no trace of criticism of his actions taken at this time and, to the contrary, he was known as a popular individual.