Matsukura Katsuie


Matsukura Clan


Hizen Province

Lifespan:  Keichō 2 (1597) to 7/19 of Kanei (1638)

Other Names:  Shigetsugu

Rank:  daimyō

Title:  Junior Fifth Rank (Lower), Governor of Nagato

Clan:  Matsukura

Bakufu:  Edo

Domain:  Hizen-Shimabara

Lord:  Tokugawa Iemitsu

Father:  Matsukura Shigemasa

Siblings:  Katsuie, Shigetoshi, Sanya, sister (formal wife of Tōdō Yoshimochi), sister (wife of Bōjō Toshimasa)

Wife: [Formal] Daughter of Katayama Sōtetsu

Matsukura Katsuie served as a daimyō during the early Edo period.  He was the second lord of the Hizen-Hinoe (Shimabara) domain.

In 1597, Katsuie was born as the lineal heir of Matsukura Shigemasa.  Similar to his father, Katsuie engaged in a despotic style of governance giving rise in 1638 to the largest uprising in Japanese history known as the Shimabara Rebellion triggered by the persecution of Christians.  After suppression of the uprising, Katsuie was questioned by the Edo bakufu for failures in the management of his domain and provocations causing the revolt.  As a result, he was sentenced to death by beheading – an uncommon verdict for daimyō in the Edo period.

Together with his father, Shigemasa, Katsuie generated numerous pretexts for his spending including the new construction of Shimabara Castle and the town below, travel between Hizen and Kyōto (to comply with the bakufu policy known as sankin-kōtai whereby daimyō were required to spend a portion of their time on a periodic basis rendering service to the bakufu in the capital), and preparations for an expedition to Luzon in the Philippines which plan did not materialize.  He conducted land surveys on his own, overestimating the yield of his fief to be 100,000 koku instead of 40,000 koku.  He imposed excessive annual rice taxes and labor on the local residents commensurate with a fief of 100,000 koku.  These resources were used to renovate Shimabara Castle in extravagant style (such as by painting white the entire exterior of the castle) and cruelly oppressing the large population of Christians in his territory.

In 1630, in the wake of the sudden death of his father, Shigemasa, Katsuie became the lord of the Hizen-Hineo domain.  He then severely exploited and caused hardship for the residents to a degree in excess even of Shigemasa.  In 1634, although inclement weather and drought led to crop failures, Katsuie nonetheless continued to impose heavy taxes without relief.  In addition to impounding rice and agricultural products, he promulgated new forms of taxes based on headcount as well as for housing.  This is detailed in assorted records including the diary of Nicolaes Couckebacker, the director of the Dutch Trading Company.

In the tenth month of 1637, he took as a hostage the pregnant wife of Yozaemon, the headman of the village of Kuchinotsu, and punished her by placing her in a chamber filled with cold water.  Residents of the village gathered at Yozaemon’s home to discuss how to possibly pay the annual levies but they had nothing more to give.  Meanwhile, the pregnant wife suffered for six days and, together with the baby born in the tub, died.  No longer able to endure the mistreatment, on 10/25, the residents launched an uprising by raiding the official quarters and murdering the local governor.  This marked the beginning of the Shimabara Rebellion.

Removal from position and execution

After the suppression of the rebellion, on 4/4 of Kanei 15 (1638), Katsuie, together with Terazawa Katataka, a daimyō and the second lord of the Karatsu domain in Hizen, was deemed responsible for triggering the events.  Consequently, Katsuie was removed from his position and his landholdings seized.  On 4/12, he was taken into custody by Mori Nagatsugu, a daimyō and the lord of the Mimasaka-Tsuyama domain.  A dead body believed to be of a peasant was found in a tub at the residence so this became a deciding factor in sending Katsuie to Edo in the fifth month for an investigation.  On 7/19, he was executed by beheading at the residence of the Mori family in Edo on 7/19 of that same year.

From the time after the Summer Campaign of the Siege of Ōsaka in 1615, it was exceedingly rare to be sentenced to death by beheading and not even being allowed the final honor of death by seppuku granted by bushi to fallen daimyō.  In fact, throughout the Edo period, Katsuie was the only daimyō sentenced to death by beheading.  The Edo bakufu viewed the failures of Katsuie that triggered the great rebellion as an extraordinarily serious crime.

Katsuie had two younger brothers.  The eldest one, Shigetoshi, was sent to Sanuki Province, followed by Aizu in Mutsu Province.  He then took his own life in 1655.  The second younger brother, Sanya, was spared but became a rōnin, or wandering samurai.  Descendants of Shigetoshi continued as hatamoto, or direct retainers of the bakufu, with a stipend of 300 hyō, or sacks of rice.