Hori Hidemasa


Hori Clan

Echizen Province

Hori Hidemasa

Lifespan:  Tenbun 22 (1553) to 5/27 of Tenshō 18 (1590)

Rank:  bushō, daimyō

Title:  Junior Fourth Rank (Lower), Chamberlain, Chief of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards

Clan:  Hori (originated from the Fujiwara no Toshihito-Saitō branch of the Fujiwara-Hokke family)

Lord:  Oda Nobunaga → Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Father:  Hori Hideshige

Siblings:  Hidemasa, Taga Hidetane, Toshishige, Mitsumasa

Children:  Hideharu, Chikayoshi, Murakami Tajima-no-kami, Kondō Masanari

Hori Hidemasa served as a bushō and daimyō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.  He served Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, becoming a daimyō based in Kita-no-shō in Echizen Province.

As a close associate of Nobunaga

In 1553, Hidemasa was born as the eldest son of Hori Hideshige, a retainer of Saitō Dōsan.  He was born in the village of Akanabe in the Atsumi District of Mino Province.  During his youth, Hidemasa was raised along with an older cousin named Okuda Naomasa (later known as Hori Naomasa) by an uncle, Hori Kamon-dayū, who was a monk of the Ikkō sect.

Initially, Hidemasa served Ōtsu Nagamasa and then Kinoshita Hideyoshi.  In 1565, at the age of thirteen, he was chosen to be a servant and close associate of Oda Nobunaga.  At the age of sixteen, Hidemasa served as a magistrate for the construction of the Honkoku Temple to serve as a temporary residence for Ashikaga Yoshiaki, the fifteenth (and final) shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu.  Thereafter, Hidemasa served in numerous capacities as a magistrate, solidifying his position as a close associate of Nobunaga.  In addition to Hidemasa, close associates of Nobunaga included Sugaya Nagayori, Fukuzumi Hidekatsu, Ōtsu Nagamasa, Yabe Iesada, Hasegawa Hidekazu, and Manmi Shigemoto.

Over time, Hidemasa’s responsibilities expanded beyond those of a magistrate to serve on the battlefield.  In 1575, he participated in a major campaign of the Oda army to subdue the Echizen Ikkō-ikki.  In 1577, in the Conquest of Kishū against the Saika group of Kii Province, Hidemasa separated from Nobunaga’s main formation and, together with Sakuma Nobumori and Hashiba Hideyoshi, led a division.  In 1578, at the Siege of Arioka Castle, Hidemasa, together with Sugaya Nagayori and Manmi Shigemoto, led an infantry division.  In 1579, Hidemasa joined Nagayori and Hasegawa Hidekazu to oversee a religious debate between representatives of the Jōdo and Hokke sects held at the Jōgon Temple below Azuchi Castle.  In 1580, Hidemasa, along with Nagayori and Hidekazu, oversaw the construction of a residence for Portuguese Jesuits.  That same year, he drafted an attachment to a letter from Nobunaga to Hachisuka Masakatsu.

Owing to his upbringing by an uncle who served as the abbot for the Renshō Temple, he engaged in negotiations with the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple, urging a settlement and return to the castle in Saginomori in Kii Province.  Later, Hidemasa received a priest’s name from the Kennyo of the Hongan Temple.

In 1581, at the Second Tenshō Iga Conflict, Hidemasa led a battalion from the gateway to Shigaraki and fought at the Battle of Hijiyama Castle.  Based on these contributions, in addition to the conquest of Araki Murashige and suppression of the Echizen Ikkō-ikki, Nobunaga appointed Hidemasa as the lord of Nagahama Castle with a fief of 25,000 koku.

In 1582, at the Conquest of Kōshū, Hidemasa followed orders from Nobunaga to enter Kōshin (Kai and Shinano provinces), but this was after Oda Nobutada had already eliminated the Takeda clan so did not participate in battle.  Just prior to the Honnō Temple Incident, after Akechi Mitsuhide was removed from a role to assist Tokugawa Ieyasu with visitors, Hidemasa joined Niwa Nagahide in this capacity.  Thereafter, he headed to Bitchū to serve under Hideyoshi.

Kiyosu Conference and the Battle of Yamazaki

On 6/2 of Tenshō 10 (1582), when Oda Nobunaga unexpectedly died in a coup d’état led by Akechi Mitsuhide known as the Honnō Temple Incident, Hidemasa was located in Bitchū Province serving as a military commander for Hideyoshi.  Upon hearing the news, Hidemasa and Hideyoshi quickly returned to the environs of Kyōto whereupon Hidemasa participated in the Battle of Yamazaki serving, along with Nakagawa Kiyohide and Takayama Ukon, in the vanguard.  Hidemasa cornered Akechi Hidemitsu in Sakamoto Castle who came with reinforcements for Mitsuhide.  Aware of his impending defeat, Hidemitsu announced his intent to transfer his family heirlooms to Hidemasa’s chief retainer, Hori Naomasa, and then set the castle on fire and perished.

After the Battle of Yamazaki, at the Kiyosu Conference held on 6/27, Hidemasa was granted the former territory of Niwa Nagahide including Sawayama Castle and a fief of 90,000 koku in Ōmi Province.  According to some accounts, Sawayama Castle was awarded to Hidemasa for his contributions in the attack on Kita-no-shō.  On behalf of Oda Sanpōshi (later known as Oda Hidenobu), Hidemasa served as an overseer and defender of landholdings under Sanpōshi’s direct jurisdiction.  Thereafter, Hidemasa became a retainer of Hideyoshi.  In a letter dated 10/20 of Tenshō 10 (1582), he used the Hashiba surname.  Consequently, Hidemasa is believed to be the first person outside of Hideyoshi’s family to have been conferred the Hashiba surname.

Attack on Kita-no-shō

In the fourth month of 1583, Hideyoshi attacked Shibata Katsuie at Kita-no-shō in Echizen Province.  In a letter to Hideyoshi, Ieyasu praised Hidemasa’s valor and contributions in fighting against Katsuie.  After the conflict, Hidemasa was awarded the titles of Junior Fifth Rank (Lower) and Chief of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards.  Owing to the connection with his cousin, Rokuemon, who served as the abbot of the Renshō Temple, Hidemasa also engaged in negotiations with representatives of the Hongan Temple.

Battle of Komaki-Nagakute and lord of Kita-no-shō Castle

In 1584, at the Battle of Komaki-Nagakute, the allied army suffered a major defeat, but Hidemasa divided his army into three units and ambushed Ōsuga Yasutaka and Sakakibara Yasumasa (who were aligned with Ieyasu and riding momentum) in a pincer attack and defeated them.  Thereafter, his forces withdrew without fighting Ieyasu’s main division.

In 1585, after Hideyoshi was conferred the elevated title of kanpaku, or Chief Advisor to the Emperor, Hidemasa was invested with the titles of Junior Fourth Rank (Lower), Chamberlain, and Chief of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards.  That same year, owing to his contributions in the Conquest of Kishū (at the Battle of Sengokubori Castle and the Second Battle of Ōta Castle) as well as the Pacification of Shikoku, Hidemasa received the remaining territory of Niwa Nagahide in Kita-no-shō in Echizen with a fief of 180,000 koku.

Murakami Yoshiaki from Komatsu in Kaga and Mizoguchi Hidekatsu from the Daishō Temple in Kaga joined the yoriki, or security staff.  In 1586, Hidemasa and Hasegawa Hidekazu were allowed access into the Imperial Court.  While Hidemasa was away to participate in assorted battles, his father, Hori Hideshige, remained behind as the chamberlain of Sawayama Castle and, together with Hidemasa’s younger brother, Taga Hidetane, governed Hidemasa’s territory.

Pacification of Kyūshū and the Conquest of Odawara

In 1587, Hidemasa joined the Kyūshū Pacification and was assigned to lead the vanguard division.  In 1588, he was conferred with the Toyotomi surname.

In 1590, he participated in the Conquest of Odawara, ordered to serve as the commander-in-chief of the left formation.  The forces attacked to the gateway to Hakone, toppling Yamanaka Castle, and proceeding to the entrance to Hayakawa in Odawara.  The main division established a position at the Kaisō Temple.  However, toward the end of the fifth month, Hidemasa fell ill and, on 5/27, he suddenly died during the deployment at the age of thirty-eight.

Hidemasa’s remains were initially buried at the site of the main encampment at the Kaisō Temple, and only his topknot was brought back to his territory and a grave and memorial tablet made at the Chōkei Temple near his base in Kita-no-shō in Echizen.

Hidemasa was succeeded by his eldest son, Hori Hideharu.  In the fourth month of 1598, after Hideharu was transferred to Kasugayama in Echigo Province, Hidemasa was re-buried at the Rinsen Temple in the foothills below Kasugayama Castle.  In addition to the grave for Hidemasa, memorials were constructed there for his father, Hideshige, and his older brother, Hideharu, and it became a family temple for three generations of the Hori clan.

Character and anecdotes

During the Battle of Yamazaki, in a bid to take Mount Tennō, the first division led by Horio Yoshiharu first climbed the mountain.  When Hidemasa attempted to follow, a retainer named Hori Shichirōbei said that if their allies above them lose, then they will all lose at once so they should change the route and climb.  As the forces changed routes and continued the climb, the Horio forces collapsed as expected whereupon Hidemasa attacked from the side and, with an arquebus, killed the enemy commander named Matsuda Masachika.  Hori Shichirōbei is surmised to be Hori Toshimune (or Michitoshi), the older brother of Hori Naomasa and a cousin of Hidemasa.  Initially, he served Ashikaga Yoshiteru, and, after the death of Yoshiteru, served Oda Nobunaga.

During the Battle of Komaki-Nagakute, the troops noted that the sound of arquebus fire has unexpectedly stopped.  Tanaka Yoshimasa came solo on a horse to inform them that there was a battle behind them so they needed to quickly prepare.  Hidemasa said that Yoshimasa was the head of the servants so should have delegated the task to inform them to someone under him or a young person, further noting that the arquebus fire must have signaled the defeat of their allies and, in fact, the allies had been defeated when enemy forces led by Ōsuga and Sakakibara charged. 

During the Kyūshū Expedition, a close retainer named Yamashita Jingobei became deranged and tried to attack Hidemasa from behind.  Hidemasa turned around and cut him down at once.  Naomasa, who was also walking behind Jingobei, also slashed him.  Hidemasa said to Naomasa “I was first.”  Everyone was impressed that he could say that right after such a sudden event.

When a dispute arose between servants of the magistrates and the porters in regard to the weight of the provisions, Hidemasa attempted to carry the items.  He said that even though he was stronger, he would become tired after carrying it for one ri (approximately four kilometers) so decided it would be better not to take it.

After Hidemasa was criticized for a delay in carrying the battle flag during a march, Hidemasa tried to take it on himself, but after changing to a horse with weak legs, caused further delay.

A portrait of Hidemasa kept at the Chōkei Temple is said to have been painted by Hidemasa himself.