Amakusa Hisatane


Amakusa Clan


Higo Province

Lifespan:  15xx to Keichō 6 (1601) (estimated)

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Governor of Izu, danjo-chū (used as a common name)

Clan:  Amakusa

Father:  Amakusa Shizunao

Mother:  Dona – Gracia (baptismal name; sister of Kiyama Masachika)

Siblings:  Hisatane, 種倫, 種真

Wife:  Dona – Joana (baptismal name; older sister of Sumoto Shigemichi)

Children:  Tanekata, Tanenaga (Shinsuke)

Amakusa Hisatane served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.  Hisatane was a Christian convert and the fifteenth head of the Amakusa clan.  He served as the lord of Kawachiura Castle in the Amakusa islands of Higo Province.

The Amakusa were one of the Five Clans of Amakusa, a group of kokujin, or provincial landowners, located on the Amakusa islands of Higo.

In 1571, Hisatane and his wife were baptized.  His wife’s younger brother, Sumoto Chikataka, followed the influences of his older sister and, in 1589 was baptized.  In 1584, Hisatane headed toward Satsuma Province upon the invitation of Shimazu Yoshihisa who was expanding his power in Kyūshū.  In 1587, however, Hisatane joined the other members of the Five Clans of Amakusa to submit to Toyotomi Hideyoshi during the Kyūshū Pacification, so his rights to his landholdings were recognized.  That same year, the Toyotomi administration issued the Order to Expel Padres.  Similar to Arima Harunobu and others, Hisatane disobeyed the order and continued to provide refuge to Portuguese missionaries.

In 1589, Hisatane, along with other members of the Five Clans of Amakusa including Shiki Shigetsune, Ōyano Tanemoto, Kōtsuura Tanenao, and Sumoto Chikataka refused demands by Konishi Yukinaga to support the construction of Uto Castle and instead launched a rebellion.  This event is known as the Amakusa Kokujin Uprising or the Battle of Amakusa in the Tenshō Era.  The clans, however, were suppressed by Konishi Yukinaga with reinforcements from Katō Kiyomasa.  Thereafter, Hisatane submitted to Yukinaga and received recognition of their rights to their landholdings, later serving as a yoriki, or security officer, in the Bunroku-Keichō Campaign on the Korean Peninsula.

After the Amakusa Kokujin Uprising, Hisatane was appointed by Yukinaga as his representative in Hondo in the Amakusa islands.  In 1591, he moved the novitiate, religious college, and printing presses to his territory.  Thereafter, he printed many publications for the Jesuit faith called the Amakusa Press in an environment permitting the Christian culture to flourish.

In 1600, at the Battle of Sekigahara, Hisatane served on behalf of Konishi Yukinaga and fled in defeat.  For a while, he took refuge at Mihara Castle in the territory of Kobayakawa Hideaki.  Thereafter, he lost his landholdings and went into service for the Kobayakawa who were the lords of the Okayama domain in Bizen Province, but died soon thereafter.

Accompanying the removal of the Kobayakawa from their position, the main branch of the Amakusa collapsed, but Hisatane’s nephew (who alternatively may have been a younger brother), Amakusa Shinsuke, served the Higo-Hosokawa clan so the family lineage continued.