Lifespan: Daiei 4 (1524) to 1/19 of Tenshō 2 (1574)
Other Names: Kurōbei-no-jō
Name Changes: Maeba Yoshitsugu → Katsurada Nagatoshi
Title: Governor of Harima
Clan: Maeba → Katsurada
Lord: Asakura Yoshikage → Oda Nobunaga
Father: Maeba Kagesada
Siblings: Kagemasa, Yoshitsugu
Maeba Yoshitsugu served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods. He was a retainer of the Asakura and Oda clans.
The Maeba clan were jizamurai, or local samurai, based in the village of Maeba in the environs of the main base of the Asakura clan in Ichijōdani in Echizen Province. The Maeba were a leading clan among those who served directly for the Asakura.
Yoshitsugu was born as the second son of Maeba Kagesada, a retainer of the Asakura clan, the sengoku daimyō of Echizen Province.
Yoshitsugu served as a magistrate for Asakura Yoshikage. In 1570, his older brother, Maeba Kagemasa, was killed in action at the Battle of Katata during the Siege of Shiga so Yoshitsugu inherited the headship of the Maeba clan. In 1572, after Oda Nobunaga and Yoshikage opposed one another, Yoshitsugu abandoned the Asakura, rushed to the main division of Nobunaga, and surrendered. Although the facts are uncertain, in later eras, reasons given for the betrayal include: (i) Yoshitsugu resented being disowned for an incident when he passed-by Yoshikage without getting off of his horse after arriving late to a falconry outing, and (ii) Yoshitsugu angered Yoshikage owing to an appeal by Yoshitsugu’s lineal heir to collude with the Oda. In 1573, during the Siege of Ichijōdani Castle, Yoshitsugu served as a guide for the Oda army in Echizen, contributing to the demise of the Asakura clan.
Owing to his contributions during the invasion by the Oda of Echizen, Yoshitsugu was appointed by Nobunaga to serve as the deputy military governor of the province. He received one of the characters from the name of Nobunaga and changed his name to Katsurada Nagatoshi. He then presented Nobunaga with a swift horse. Soon after changing his name, however, he became blind. Moreover, Toda Nagashige was jealous of Nagatoshi’s appointment as the deputy military governor and adopted a confrontational posture toward Nagatoshi. In 1574, Nagashige instigated an uprising by local citizens who headed toward Ichijōdani where Nagatoshi resided. On 1/19, Yoshitsugu was killed by ikki forces led by Nagatoshi who outnumbered the defenders. Nagatoshi’s mother, wife, and son attempted to flee but were caught the next day and slayed.
At the time of the attack, Yoshitsugu was blind. As to the reason why he lost his life, an account of the Asakura clan states that it was “divine punishment.” The authenticated biography of Oda Nobunaga entitled the Shinchō kōki notes: “As the deputy military governor of a large province, he was proud of the wealth and prosperity but earned retribution for his insolence toward the younger generation and exploitation of their labor.”