Uesugi Sadakatsu

上杉定勝

Uesugi Clan

Uesugi Sadakatsu

Dewa Province

Lifespan:  5/5 of Keichō 9 (1604) to 9/10 of Shōhō 2 (1645)

Other Names:  Tamamaru, 千徳 (childhood), Kiheiji (common)

Rank:  daimyō

Title:  Junior Fourth Rank (Lower), Senior Assistant for Police and Security, Chamberlain, Provisional Major General of Imperial Guards of the Left Division

Clan:  Uesugi

Bakufu:  Edo

Domain:  Dewa-Yonezawa

Lord:  Tokugawa Hidetada → Tokugawa Iemitsu

Father:  Uesugi Kagekatsu

Mother:  Keiganin (daughter of the Yotsutsuji Kintō)

Adopted Siblings:  Hatakeyama Yoshizane

Wife: [Formal]  Ichihime (daughter of Nabeshima Katsushige), [Consort] Shōzenin (daughter of Saitō Motomori)

Children:  Tokugawa Tokumatsu, Tsunakatsu, Kunimatsu, Tokuhime, Chōshōin, daughter (formal wife of Maeda Toshiharu), Torahime, (Ryūsenin, formal wife of Nabeshima Mitsushige), Kamehime (Hōzuiin, formal wife of Maeda Toshiaki), Mitsuhime (Baireiin, formal wife of Kira Yoshihisa)

Uesugi Sadakatsu served as a daimyō during the early Edo period.  He was the second lord of the Dewa-Yonezawa domain and the eighteenth head of the Yamanouchi-Uesugi family (the main branch of the Uesugi clan).

In 1604, Sadakatsu was born as the son of Uesugi Kagekatsu, the first lord of the Dewa-Yonezawa domain and the seventeenth head of the Yamanouchi-Uesugi family.  Born to a consort, Sadakatsu was illegitimate but the only natural son of Kagekatsu, so became his heir.  His mother originated from the Yotsutsuji family, an illegitimate branch of the Saionji clan.  The Saionji were a well-known kuge, or noble family.

Around 100 days after giving birth to Sadakatsu, his mother died so he was raised by Kagekatsu’s chief retainer, Naoe Kanetsugu and his wife, Osen-no-kata.  In 1610, he met Tokugawa Hidetada, the second shōgun of the Edo bakufu.  At this time, he received the name of 千徳.

On 2/13 of Genna 9 (1623), he visited Edo Castle and met Hidetada, was conferred the title of Junior Fourth Rank (Lower) and appointed Chamberlain and Deputy Inspector.  Based on a reference to his appointment in a letter from his father, Kagekatsu, dated 1/10, Kagekatsu is surmised to have consulted with the bakufu in advance in regard to the terms of his coming-of-age and official appointments.  The conferral of the title of Chamberlain which was a position ordinarily reserved for nobles appears related to the title of Vice-Councilor of State held by his father.  Following the death of Kagekatsu, on 5/13 of the same year, Sadakatsu inherited the headship of the clan.  As a result, he quickly returned home for a while, but to ensure his arrival on time for a trip to Kyōto by Tokugawa Hidetada and palace visit, he soon headed to the capital.  On 8/9 of Kanei 3 (1626), he was appointed Provisional Major General of Imperial Guards of the Left Division and Senior Assistant for Police and Security.  He then wed the daughter of Nabeshima Katsushige which had been arranged through the offices of Hidetada during his initial meeting as a youth.  In 1634, he followed Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shōgun of the Edo bakufu, on a visit to Kyōto.

In the fourth month of 1643 (and in the aftermath of a dispute that resulted in the killing of his chief retainer in an event known as the Aizu Disturbance) Katō Akinari, the lord of the Aizu domain, appealed to the Edo bakufu to retire.  In his appeal, he stated that, owing to illness, he could no longer manage the administrative affairs or govern the domain at large, so he desired to return the territory.  In the fifth month, the bakufu removed the Katō clan from their position and ordered Akinari’s removal.  Following the departure of Akinari, Sadakatsu assisted the bakufu in managing the affairs of the domain.  As an outcome of a dispute regarding the status of the governing organs of the family temple of the Uesugi clan (the Rinsen Temple) and the family temple of the Naoe clan (the Tokushō Temple), he destroyed the Tokushō Temple.

In 1645, Sadakatsu died at the age of forty-two.  He was succeeded by his lineal heir, Uesugi Tsunakatsu.

Administration of the domain

In 1638, Sadakatsu implemented a general land survey and devised a system for rice levies.  He also established roles in the domain for magistrates, district governors, and official representatives in addition to systems of governance for townships and villages.  He fostered the transition from a system under the control of Edo to a system governed by the lord of the domain.

Upon instruction from the Edo bakufu, Sadakatsu strengthened enforcement of the prohibition against Christians.  He arrested and executed numerous Christians including retainers in the territory.  In 1628, Amakasu Nobutsuna (Uemon) was executed.  In 1639, he stationed inspectors in townships and villages to be on the watch for Christians.  The execution of Yamaura Mitsunori, a retainer of the Yonezawa domain, occurred after the death of Sadakatsu.

Sadakatsu issued rules to his retainers in the Yonezawa domain, stating “Do not imitate the customs of other families and be modest and righteous in all matters.  Regarding dress, kosode, or short-sleeved kimono, and hakama, or paulownia-color skirts are not useful, but rather to focus on the literary and military arts.”  In the middle Edo period, Uesugi Yōzan, the ninth head of the Dewa-Yonezawa domain, used these rules as a postscript to provisions issued when he first assumed the position as lord of the domain.