Lifespan: 9/15 of Tenbun 10 (1541) to 8/7 of Kōji 3 (1557)
Other Names: Minbu-kyōmaru (childhood)
Rank: bushō, sengoku daimyō
Father: Chiba Toshitane or Chiba Masatane
Chiba Chikatane served as a sengoku daimyō in Shimōsa Province. He was the twenty-sixth head of the Chiba clan based in Shimōsa Province.
There are theories that Chikatane was either the lineal heir of Chiba Toshitane, the twenty-fifth head of the clan, or the fourth son of Chiba Masatane, the twenty-fourth head of the clan, in which case he would have been the younger brother of Toshitane. There is a theory that, upon the death of Toshitane, his siblings had inherited other families so, as the remaining child, Chikatane was treated as a lineal heir and inherited the headship of the clan. His wife was Ozaki-dono.
In 1547, following the death of his father, Chikatane inherited the clan. At this time, he was still in his youth so the real authority was wielded by Hara Tanekiyo and Hara Tanesada (father and son) who were aligned with the Gohōjō clan. In 1555, Chikatane attended his coming-of-age ceremony but, in the tenth month, Masaki Tokishige, a retainer of the Satomi clan, attacked Chiba so the event could not, in accordance with custom, be held on the fifteenth day of the eleventh month and instead was held on the twenty-third day of the twelfth month.
Frustrated at the autocratic behavior of his retainers, Tanekiyo and Tanesada, Chikatane stood in opposition to the Gohōjō clan and joined forces with Ashikaga Haruuji, the Koga kubō, who shared his opposition. As a result, he incurred an attack by Hōjō Ujiyasu and was captured and compelled to transfer headship of the clan to Chiba Tanetomi (his uncle or older brother) and incarcerated. In 1557, Tanetomi was assassinated at the age of seventeen.
The assassin is generally regarded as Hōjō Ujiyasu, but, in recent years, it is surmised that Hara Tanesada or Hara Chikamaki of the same family and who vied for power with Hara Tanekiyo received the private consent of Ujiyasu and then murdered him.
At the Kairin Temple in the city of Sakura in Chiba Prefecture, there is included among a group of stone pagodas from the Middle Ages a pagoda with a memorial inscription for Chikatane. Also, at the Kubo Shrine in the city of Katori in Chiba, there is a portrait of Chikatane painted by Chiba Sadatane, the thirty-third head of the Chiba clan in the early Edo period. He was the great-grandson of Tanetomi and lodged at the home of former retainers after falling into straitened circumstances. There is a theory that in the background he feared the revengeful spirit of Chikatane.