Bessho Nagaharu


Bessho Clan

Bessho Nagaharu

Harima Province

Lifespan:  Eiroku 1 (1558) (?) to 1/17 of Tenshō 8 (1580)

Rank:  bushō and daimyō

Title: Junior Fourth Rank (Lower); Chamberlain

Clan:  Bessho

Lord:  Oda Nobunaga

Father:  Bessho Yasuharu

Mother:  From the Uragami clan

Siblings:  Nagaharu, Tomoyuki, Harusada

Wife: [Formal] Teruko (younger sister or daughter of Hatano Hideharu)

Children: Takehime, Torahime, Senmatsumaru, Takematsumaru

Bessho Nagaharu served as a bushō and daimyō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.

Nagaharu was the eldest son of Bessho Yasuharu.  In 1570, Nagaharu became head of the clan following the death by illness of Yasuharu.  Owing to his young age, Nagaharu served under the guardianship of his uncles, Bessho Yoshichika and Bessho Shigemune.  The members of the Bessho clan were long-standing retainers of Oda Nobunaga.  In the autumn of 1575, Nagaharu paid a visit to Nobunaga, and visited the following year for new year’s greetings.  In 1577, Nagaharu joined in the deployment for the Kishū seibatsu, or Conquest of Kii Province.  Nagaharu then served in the vanguard of the campaign against the Mōri in the western region.  However, after witnessing a slaughter at the Kōzuki Castle in Harima Province, along with dissatisfaction with the actions of the rising Hashiba Hideyoshi, supreme commander of the western forces, Nagaharu opted for an alternate path.  He connected with Hatano Hideharu of Tanba Province, the home province of his wife, to rebel against Nobunaga.  Many surrounding clans supported the action and attacked those who did not abide so that eastern Harima became unified in its opposition to the Oda.

Consequently, Nobunaga ordered Hideyoshi to attack Nagaharu.  Nagaharu made a stiff defense from Miki Castle, causing trouble for Hideyoshi.  Meanwhile, Araki Murashige rebelled against Nobunaga and the Mōri dispatched reinforcements, leading to a temporary withdrawal by the Oda forces.  Nagaharu even went on the offensive, pinning Reizei Tamezumi and son in Ureshino Castle and causing them to take their own lives.  Finally, the confrontation led to the Battle of Miki Castle whereby Hideyoshi deployed a tactic to wait-out the defenders, knowing that their supplies would eventually dwindle and run out. First, the Oda captured the auxiliary fortresses of Kanki and Shikata.  Reinforcements from the Mōri were blocked.  Then, two years later, in 1580, Nagaharu and his family offered to kill themselves in exchange for sparing the lives of the defenders.  Prior to this action, Hideyoshi allowed for a final ceremonial dinner.  His retainer, Miyake Harutada, served in the honorary role as the executioner.  Upon the fall of the castle, one of his sons, Bessho Yoshiharu, safely escaped under the pretext of being the son of Bessho Shigemune.  Yoshiharu later served in the Edo period as the head of the Yagi han of Tajjima Province.