Shimazu Tadatsune


Shimazu Clan

Satsuma Province

Shimazu Tadatsune

Lifespan:  11/7 of Tenshō 4 (1576) to 2/23 of Kanei 15 (1638)

Other Names:  Yonegikumaru (childhood), Iehisa, Matahachirō, Satsuma-Jijū

Rank:  bushō, tozama daimyō

Title:  Junior Third Rank, Vice Councilor of State, Governor of Ōsumi, Governor of Satsuma, Governor of Mutsu

Clan:  Shimazu

Bakufu:  Edo

Domain:  Satsuma-Kagoshima

Lord:  Toyotomi Hideyoshi → Toyotomi Hideyori → Tokugawa Ieyasu → Tokugawa Hidetada → Tokugawa Iemitsu

Father:  Shimazu Yoshihiro

Mother:  Adopted daughter of Hirose Sukemune

Siblings:  Oyaji, Tsurujumaru, Hisayasu, Tadatsune, Manchiyomaru, Tadakiyo, Oshita

Wife:  [Formal]  Shimazu Kameju (daughter of Shimazu Yoshihisa), [Second]  Daughter of Shimazu Tadakiyo, [Consorts]  Daughter of Kamata Masashige, daughter of Sagara Nagayasu

Children:  Shimazu Hyōgo-no-kami, Mitsuhisa, Tadaaki, Hongō Hisanao, Tadahiro, Machida Tadanao, Tadanori, Nejime Shigenaga, Hisataka, Kamata Masakatsu, Ijūin Hisakuni, 忠心, Ise Sadaaki, Kabayama Hisanao, daughter (formal wife of Hongō Okihisa), daughter (formal wife of Shimazu Hisayoshi), daughter (wife of Tanegashima Tadatoki), daughter (wife of Shimazu 久章), daughter (wife of Shimazu Hisayori), daughter (formal wife of Kimotsuki Kaneie), daughter (wife of Shimazu Hisamochi), daughter (formal wife of Irikiin Shigeyori)

Adopted Children:  Chōjuin-dono, Chizuru

Shimazu Tadatsune served as a bushō and tozama-daimyō during the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo periods.  Tadatsune served as the first lord of the Shimazu domain in the Edo period.   As a tozama-daimyō, Tadatsune was among those daimyō whom, in the wake of the Battle of Sekigahara in the ninth month of 1600, were brought into the command structure of Tokugawa Ieyasu as he formed the Edo bakufu.

On 11/7 of Tenshō 4 (1576), Tadatsune was born as the third son of Shimazu Yoshihiro.  Tadatsune was the grandson of Shimazu Takahisa who, as a sengoku daimyō, fostered the growth of the Shimazu clan.  His first wife was Shimazu Kameju, the daughter of Shimazu Yoshihisa.  Kameju initially wed Tadatsune’s older brother, Shimazu Hisayasu, but after his death from illness in Korea in 1593, she remarried with Tadatsune.  Later, Tadatsune changed his name to Iehisa, but he had an uncle with the same name, so he was often referred to as Tadatsune.

Tadatsune’s uncle, Shimazu Yoshihisa, did not have a son so the Shimazu family was inherited by his father, Yoshihiro.  His eldest brother died prematurely and, in 1593, his second eldest brother, Hisayasu, died in Korea so, upon the direction of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tadatsune became the designated successor.

Prior to becoming the successor, Tadatsune spent his days indulging in drinking and carousing along with playing kemari, or kickball.  While Yoshihiro was on deployment in Korea, he sent a letter remonstrating Tadatsune for his behavior.  Nevertheless, after becoming the successor, he demonstrated military prowess on a par with his father and uncle.  In 1598, during the Keichō Campaign, at the Battle of Sacheon, he fought valiantly, supporting his father with an army of 8,000 soldiers to defeat a Ming army of several tens of thousands.

According to one account, as Dong Yiyuan led a Ming army of over 40,000 troops to attack the castle, Tadatsune charged out of the castle with 1,000 soldiers, cutting down many of the enemy forces with spears.  The commanding general, Yoshihiro, followed with a contingent of 5,000 men, rushing headlong into the enemy and killing as many as 30,000 Ming forces.  Thereafter, the Ming and Korean forces feared the military power of Yoshihiro and his army.

Nevertheless, Tadatsune’s attitude and character did not evolve in a postiive direction, and some of the troops who endured his high-handedness fled to the side of the enemy.

In 1599, Tadatsune came into conflict with a chief retainer named Ijūin Tadamune who exhibited despotic behaviors himself, having cultivated relations with the Toyotomi administration while residing as a representative of the Shimazu clan in the capital.  Tadatsune called him to the Shimazu residence in Fushimi and slayed him with a sword.  Later that year, Tadamune’s eldest son, Ijūin Tadazane, revolted in Satsuma.  This event is known as the Shōnai Rebellion.  Tadatsune, through the mediation of Ieyasu, initially settled with Tadazane, but, later, in 1602, he had Tadazane shot to death while on a hunting expedition in Nojiri and then proceeded to kill Tadazane’s sons and mother, decimating the Ijūin clan.

In 1600, at the Battle of Sekigahara, Tadatsune joined the Western Army so, in lieu of his uncle, Yoshihisa, who was engaged in peace negotiations, Tadatsune traveled to the capital of Kyōto to apologize to Ieyasu and receive recognition of his rights to his landholdings.  That same year, he entered Uchi Castle in Satsuma and inherited the headship of the clan, although Yoshihiro continued to wield the real authority in the family until 1619.

In 1606, he received one of the characters from the name of Ieyasu and adopted the name of Iehisa.

In 1609, he led an army of 3,000 men on a deployment to the Ryūkyū Islands which he proceeded to occupy and subjugate.  Tadatsune came into conflict with his father who had maintained a conciliatory approach toward the islands.  In any event, Tadatsune permitted smuggling operations with the Ming dynasty, built Kagoshima Castle, and developed a castle town.  By implementing policies for local governance and the allocation of arable lands, he laid the foundation for the Satsuma domain.  He quickly sent his wife and children to Edo, serving  as  forerunner of the policiy of the Edo bakufu known as sankin-kōtai by which daimyō alternated between residences in Edo and their home provinces as a means for the Edo bakufu to maintain control over the provinces across Japan.

In 1613, he had the Amami archipelago transferred to the Ryūkyū and assigned an official and magistrate’s office, placing it under the direct jurisdiction of the Satsuma domain.

In 1614, Tadatsune was requested to submit a written pledge dated 9/7 to Tokugawa Hidetada and steps were taken so that the Shimazu clan would not join forces with the Toyotomi.

In 1617, he received the Matsudaira surname from Tokugawa Hidetada, the second shōgun of the Edo bakufu, and was appointed the Governor of Satsuma.

From 1627, a boundary dispute in regard to a ridge known as Ushi-no-tōge arose between Itō Suketoyo (the second son of Itō Sukenori) and members of the Obi domain who were servants of Tokugawa Iemitsu.  In 1633, an inspector from the bakufu supported the position of the Obi domain.  The Satsuma domain recognized the assertions of the Obi domain in regard to the environs of Ushi-no-tōge in the southwest of their territory, but did not agree to the area of Kita-kawachi to the northeast.  This dispute continued until 1675 when the bakufu ruled in favor of the Obi domain and against the Satsuma domain.

In 1638, Tadatsune died at the age of sixty-two.  In the wake of his death, nine individuals martryed themselves.  He was succeeded by his second son, Shimazu Mitsuhisa, who became the nineteenth head of the Shimazu clan.

Character and Anecdotes

Tadatsune enjoyed waka, renga, and cha-no-yū, or tea ceremony, and he learned swordmanship from Tōgō Chūi.  Another name for Kagoshima Bay known as Kinkō Bay is said to have been derived from a poem written by Tadatsune.

Tadatsune did not get along well with his wife, Kameju, the daughter of Shimazu Yoshihisa and therefore a cousin.  The couple did not have a child so he negotiated with the bakufu to adopt Kunimatsumaru (later known as Tokugawa Tadanaga), the son of Tokugawa Hidetada, the second shōgun of the Edo bakufu.  The problem of identifying a successor persisted into the future.  Tadatsune’s later assassination of a chief retainer named Hirata Masumune may have been connected to the succession issue.  By 1634, the offspring of Masumune were also all killed.

Even after retiring as the head of the clan, Tadatsune’s uncle, Yoshihisa, continued to wield power.  Tadatsune did not possess consorts while Yoshihisa was alive, but, in 1609, he took Shō Nei (the king of the Ryūkyū Kingdom from 1587 to 1620) and headed to Edo.  He used this opportunity to obtain approval from the Edo bakufu to keep consorts.  In 1611, after the death of Yoshihisa, he quickly arranged for Kameju to reside separately in Kokubu Castle.  Then, as if to show off, he acquired eight consorts.  With these consorts, from the age of thirty-nine until his death, he had thirty-three children.  These children were sent as successors to cadet families, for adoption by senior retainers, or sent as their wives, enabling Tadatsune to concentrate power.

Upon the death of Kameju in 1630, Tadatsune sent a waka to her servants that is interpreted as: “In this transient world, Kameju died in the tenth month of the lunar calendar.  I am not, however, weeping so much as to make my sleeves wet with tears.”

He did not build a grave for Kameju and, among the graves at the vestiges of the Fukushō Temple that served as the family temple for the Shimazu family for generations, only Tadatsune and Kameju do not have a shared grave, suggesting they did not get along and he treated her coldly.  However, there is also another interpretation of the waka that he was indeed crying to make his sleeve wet on the wish this was not the real world.

One of his second wives, the mother of the daughter of Shimazu Tadakiyo (whose mother was a sister of Kameju) was discovered to be a clandestine Christian along with her family, whereupion, in 1633, there were banished to Tanegashima.

In later years, Tadatsune famously noted in a letter regarding Sanada Nobushige (Yukimura) in connection with the Siege of Ōsaka that “Sanada is the most courageous warrior in Japan.”