Takatō Yoritsugu

高遠頼継

Takatō Clan

Bushō

Shinano Province

Lifespan:   Unknown to 8/16 of Tenbun 21 (1552)

Rank:  bushō; lord of Takatō Castle

Titles:  Governor of Shinano; Governor of Kii

Clan:  Takatō

Father:  Takatō Mitsutsugu

Wife:  Daughter of Suwa Yorimitsu 

Siblings:  Yoritsugu, Yorimune

Takatō Yoritsugu served as a bushō during the Sengoku period. He came from the kunishū, or class of local families of influence who served as jizamurai, or well-known peasants who achieve the status of local samurai based on subservient relationships with shugo daimyō or provincial landowners, in Shinano Province.  He was the lord of Takatō Castle in the Ina District.  In 1542, he allied with Takeda Harunobu (Shingen) of Kai Province and served as a retainer of the Kai-Takeda clan and member of the Shinano vanguard.  Yoritsugu was the head of the Takatō were a branch of the Suwa clan who were the landowners of the Suwa District.  He also used the Suwa surname.  He was given the names of Shinano-no-kami and Kii-no-kami.  Yoritsugu was the eldest son of Takatō Mitsutsugu.  His formal wife was the daughter of Suwa Yorimitsu.

Yoritsugu was the grandson of Takatō Tsugumune who confronted the main branch of the Suwa family in the Bunmei era when the Suwa clan experienced internal discord.  After Suwa Yorimitsu unified the Suwa clan, despite resisting, Yoritsugu came under their command.  Later, Yoritsugu married the daughter of Yorimitsu.

On 9/17 of 1535, Takeda Nobutora (a shugo daimyō and sengoku daimyō of Kai Province and the eighteenth head of the Takeda clan) met Suwa Yorimitsu (the head of the Suwa – a sengoku daimyō family in Shinano) at the Sakai River on the border of Kai and Shinano provinces and entered into an alliance, marked by ringing the bell at the upper site of the Suwa Grand Shrine. 

However, in the sixth month of 1542, after Takeda Harunobu (Shingen) became the head of the clan, Harunobu rejected the alliance with the Suwa and committed to and invasion of Shinano.  On 7/2 of 1542, Yoritsugu joined the invasion of Suwa by the Takeda and attacked Suwa Yorishige at his base at Uehara Castle.  On 7/5, after Yorishige surrendered to the Takeda, he was taken to Kōfu and incarcerated at the Tōkō Temple, after which, on 7/21, he and his younger brother, Suwa Yoritaka, killed themselves.

The former landholdings of the Suwa were divided so that Yoritsugu controlled the territory to the west of the Miya River while the Takeda controlled the territory to the east.  However, Yoritsugu desired to govern all of the former Suwa territory, so, in the ninth month of 1542, together with Fujisawa Yorichika (the lord of Fukuyo Castle in the Ina District), he invaded the territory controlled by the Takeda.  Harunobu presided over the orphan of Suwa Yorishige named Toraō (later Chōkyū) in a bid to unify the Suwa family.  On 9/25, at the Battle of Miyagawa, the Takeda overwhelmingly defeated Yoritsugu, causing him to retreat from the Suwa District.  Yoritsugu’s younger brother, Takatō Yorimune, died in this conflict.  Yoritsugu then entered the priesthood.

The Takeda proceeded to attack Fujisawa Yorichika of Ina and Ōi Sadataka of Nagakubo Castle in the Chiisagata District, while, on 4/17 of 1545, Takatō Castle was toppled at the Battle of Takatō.  Yoritsugu surrendered to the Takeda and went to Kōfu.  Thereafter, the Takeda renovated Takatō Castle and made it a base for governing Shinano.  On 2/14 of 1548, the Takeda lost a conflict against Murakami Yoshikiyo of the Chiisagata District at the Battle of Uedahara.  In the seventh month of 1548, the group from western Suwa rebelled, further shaking the Takeda’s grip on its territory in Suwa.  Meanwhile, on 4/3, Yoritsugu returned from Kōfu to his base at Takatō Castle.

Later, Yoritsugu served the Takeda clan again.  In 1552, during attacks on the lower Ina District, he was forced to kill himself.  In his place, Hoshina Masaotoshi, a senior retainer of the Takatō, performed an important role for the Takeda.  In 1562, Takeda Katsuyori, the fourth son of Takeda Harunobu (Shingen), inherited the Suwa family.