Lifespan: Tenbun 14 (1545) to 7/3 of Genna 3 (1617)
Rank: bushō, daimyō
Lord: Matsudaira Ieyasu → Takigawa Kazumasu → Maeda Toshiie → Gamō Ujisato → Tokugawa Ieyasu → Tokugawa Hidetada
Father: Honda Masatoshi
Siblings: Masanobu, Masashige
Wife: [Formal] Originated from the Monna clan
Children: Masauji, daughter (formal wife of Koide Yoshichika), daughter (wife of Nagasaka Shigeyoshi), Masakane, daughter (wife of Takemura 万嘉), Masatsura (adopted grandchild)
Honda Masashige served as a bushō and daimyō from the Sengoku to early Edo periods. He was the head of the Shimōsa-Funato domain. He had a nephew also named Honda Masashige but written with a different character in his name.
In 1545, Masashige was born as the fourth son of Honda Toshimasa. Masashige, along with his older brother, Honda Masanobu, served as a retainer of Matsudaira Ieyasu (later known as Tokugawa Ieyasu), but, in 1563, at the Mikawa Ikkō-ikki, he and his brother fought on the side of the uprising against Ieyasu. In 1564, after suppression of the uprising, he returned to the service of Ieyasu. Thereafter, as a bushō of the Tokugawa family, Masashige joined in the attack on Kakegawa Castle in Tōtōmi Province. In 1570, he participated in the Battle of Anegawa and, in 1572, in the Battle of Hitokotozaka against Takeda Shingen. He also served as the rear guard in the Battle of Mikatagahara in 1573 and made contributions at the Battle of Nagashino in 1575.
Nevertheless, soon thereafter, he fled the Tokugawa family and became a rōnin, or masterless samurai. Next, Masashige served Takigawa Kazumasu, joining the attack on Kanki Castle in Harima Province. He then left Kazumasu and affiliated with Maeda Toshiie to fight against Sassa Narimasa. Despite making contributions, he departed from the Maeda family and moved to Aizu in Mutsu Province to served Gamō Ujisato. In 1595, upon the death of Ujisato, a succession struggle erupted in the Gamō family so he departed and, in 1596, returned once again to the service of the Tokugawa.
In 1600, at the Battle of Sekigahara, Masashige served as a kenshi, or messenger whose duty was to ascertain the facts. As recognition for his efforts, in 1602, Ieyasu granted Masashige a fief of 1,000 koku within the Sakata District of Ōmi Province. From 1614, at the winter Siege of Ōsaka, Masashige served as a staff officer under Tokugawa Hidetada. As further recognition for his service, in the seventh month of 1616, Masashige was awarded a fief of 10,000 koku in the Sōma District of Shimōsa Province and became a daimyō.
Masashige died on 7/3 of Genna 3 (1617) at the age of seventy-three. His eldest son, Honda Masauji, martyred himself in connection with the Hidetsugu Incident, while his second son, Honda Masakane, died early in life. Therefore, he was succeeded by his grandchild from a daughter married into another family, named Honda Masatsura. After the death of Masashige, his fief was reduced by 2,000 koku so the Funato domain ended after only one generation. The reduction was said to have been per Masashige’s will.
- Unlike his brother, Masanobu, who was known as a strategist, Masashige was known for his bravery and skill with the spear, praised by Oda Nobunaga as one of the most courageous fighters.
- Typical of Mikawa bushi, Masashige would speak his mind to Ieyasu without reservation so he was ostracized for saying too much.
- Even though Ieyasu took pause with Masashige, he recognized Masashige’s capabilities as a Sengoku bushō, stating that Masashige was not timid and displayed the heart of a daimyō.
- It was said that he fled the Tokugawa family because he was shunned by Ieyasu, but he may have served as a spy with respect to the daimyō aligned with the Oda and Toyotomi. However, the fact that he was employed by so many daimyō demonstrated a recognition of his military prowess. His older brother, Masauji, also suddenly fled the Tokugawa family, and served under Toyotomi Hidetsugu who, until the occurrence of the Hidetsugu Incident, was regarded as the heir to the Toyotomi administration.
- Masashige did not receive any titles during his lifetime, commonly known only as Sanya or Sanyazaemon.