Shiki Shigetsune


Shiki Clan


Higo Province

Lifespan:  15xx to Unknown

Other Names:  Rinsen (monk’s name)

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Master of Military Affairs, Governor of Buzen

Clan:  Shiki

Lord:  Ōtomo Sōrin → Ryūzōji Takanobu → Shimazu Yoshihisa → Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Father:  Shiki Shigehiro

Siblings:  Shigetsune, Tsunehiro

Adopted Children:  Shiki Chikahiro (Chikashige, Morotsune) (natural son of Arima Haruzumi)

Shiki Shigetsune served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.  Shigetsune was the sixteenth head of the Shiki clan who served as a mainstay of the Five Clans of Amakusa.  He served as the lord of Shiki Castle on the Amakusa archipelago of Higo Province.

Shigetsune was born as the son of Shiki Shigehiro, the lord of Shiki Castle.

A Christian daimyō, in 1566, he invited a Jesuit missionary named Luís de Almeida and permitted him to engage in evangelical activities, leading to the spread of Christianity across Amakusa.  Shigetsune, however, was not an ardent believer, and sought to profit from trade with the foreigners referred to as the southern barbarians.  He did not have a good harbor in his territory and once he determined that he could not make much profit, he rejected the religion.  In 1571, he changed course and began to persecute Christians so we criticized in the authenticated account by Luís Fróis, a Jesuit missionary from Portugal residing in Japan during this period.

The Shiki clan were under the influence of the Ōtomo clan until the Ōtomo declined following the Battle of Mimikawa in 1578.  Around 1580, similar to other smaller daimyō families, the Shiki came under the command of the Ryūzōji clan.  Later, when Arima Harunobu betrayed the Ryūzōji in favor of the Shimazu clan, Shigetsune followed.  During the Kyūshū Pacification by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, after the Shimazu tendered hostages to the Toyotomi administration and surrendered, the Shiki also submitted to Hideyoshi and received recognition of their rights to their territory.

Initially, Shigetsune affiliated with Sassa Narimasa, but, after Narimasa took his own life after being blamed for the Higo Kokujin Uprising that occurred in the latter half of 1587, Shigetsune pledged his allegiance to Konishi Yukinaga and Katō Kiyomasa who followed after Narimasa.  In 1589, however, Shigetsune, along with other gōzoku, or wealthy familiies, from Amakusa, disobeyed orders from Yukinaga to support the construction of Uto Castle, causing conflict with Yukinaga which led to the Tenshō Battle of Amakusa.  In a bid to topple Shiki Castle, Yukinaga sailed with 3,000 troops to the Fukuro Inlet, but, as the Konishi army attempted to land, Shigetsune launched a nighttime attack to repel them.  Yukinaga then requested Katō Kiyomasa, Arima Harunobu, and Ōmura Yoshiaki to provide reinforcements, swelling the ranks of these combined forces to over 10,000 men.  Shiki Castle was then captured by the allied forces of Yukinaga and Kiyomasa.  Shigetsune’s adopted son (Shiki Chikahiro) was married to the daughter of Shimazu Yoshitora, so, through this connection, he relied upon the Shimazu to flee for safety to Izumi in Satsuma Province.