Date Harumune


Date Clan

Date Harumune

Mutsu Province

Lifespan:  Eishō 16 (1519) to 12/5 of Tenshō 5 (1578)

Rank:  sengoku daimyō

Titles:  Junior Fourth Rank (Lower); Master of the Eastern Capital Office

Bakufu:  Muromachi – Commissioner of Mutsu

Clan:  Date

Father:  Date Tanemune

Mother:  Taishin (daughter of Ashina Moritaka)

Siblings:  Yakata Gozen (wife of Sōma Akitane), sister (formal wife of Ashina Moriuji), Harumune, Ōsaki Yoshinobu, Sanemoto, Genbamaru, sister (wife of Nikaidō Teruyuki), sister (wife of Tamura Takaaki), Munezumi, sister (wife of Kakeda Toshimune), Koori Munesada, Kasai Harukiyo, Yanagawa Munekiyo, Murata Munetane, Gokurakuin Sōei, Watari Tsunamune, Watari Motomune, Ōari Yasuura, Shichirō, Kosugō Gozen (wife of Sōma Yoshitane)

Wife:  Kubohime

Children:  Iwaki Chikataka, Onamihime, Terumune, Shōsei-in, daughter (wife of Koyanagawa Morimune), Rusu Masakage, Ishikawa Akimitsu, Hikohime, Hōjuin, Kokubun Morishige, Sugime Naomune

Date Harumune served as a sengoku daimyō of Mutsu Province during the Sengoku period.  Harumune served as the fifteenth head of the Date clan and carried the titles of Junior Fourth Rank (Lower) and Master of the Eastern Capital Office.  He further served as the oushū-tandai, or Commissioner of Mutsu, for the Muromachi bakufu.  Meanwhile, his contemporary, Mogami Yoshimori, served as the ushū-tandai, or Commissioner of Dewa, for the bakufu.  Together, these two sengoku daimyō governed northern Japan.

In 1519, Harumune was born as the eldest son of Date Tanemune, the fourteenth head of the Date clan.  In 1533, he received one of the characters from the name of Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the twelfth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu, and adopted the name of Harumune.

The Tenbun Conflict

In the sixth month of 1542, in a bid to further expand his domain, his father, Tanemune, attempted to send Harumune’s younger brother, Tokimunemaru, for adoption by Uesugi Sadazane, the military governor of Echigo Province.  Prior to the adoption, Tokimunemaru received one of the characters in his name from Sadazane, and thereafter became known as Date Sanemoto.  Harumune and his older brother-in-law, Sōma Akitane, opposed the plan, whereupon they joined with Nakano Munetoki and Koori Kagenaga to incarcerate Harumune’s father in Koori-Nishiyama Castle and block Sanemoto from adoption by the Uesugi.

Tanemune, however, escaped from Koori-Nishiyama Castle with the assistance of Koyanagawa Munetomo, whereupon he summoned local lords from Oushū to prepare for battle against Harumune, escalating into the Tenbun Conflict.  In the early stages, Tanemune’s forces enjoyed the advantage, while Harumune incurred successive losses.  In 1547, the situation reversed after Ashina Moriuji betrayed Tanemune in favor of Harumune owing to conflicts with the Tamura and Nikaidō clans.  In the third month of 1548, the combatants received an order from the thirteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu, Ashikaga Yoshiteru, for a cessation of hostilities.  In the autumn, the parties reached a settlement on terms favorable to Harumune’s faction.  Harumune then succeeded Tanemune as head of the fifteenth head of the Date family while Tanemune retired to Marumori Castle.  Notwithstanding this resolution, friction lingered between father and son.

After moving his base to Yonezawa Castle in Dewa Province, Harumune set about as the new leader to govern the retainers of the Date family in the wake of the Tenbun Conflict.  On 1/17 of 1553, he drafted a set of policies and, at the height of the conflict, organized a flurry of formal notices to recognize the right of land ownership that were made to families on both sides of the conflict, and newly validated the territories and status of his respective retainers.  That same year, Harumune decimated Kakeda Toshimune and Kakeda Yoshimune (father and son) who had rejected a settlement and continued fighting.  However, influential retainers (such as Nakano Moritoki who had served as the main forces on his behalf in the Tenbun Conflict) compelled Harumune to grant them an assortment of special privileges, including the right to prohibit entry into designated areas by the military governor or associated officials.  Consequently, Munetoki and other key retainers performed influential roles in Harumune’s administration. 

Marriage alliances

Harumune had eleven children (six boys and five girls all from his formal wife, Kubohime), and with the exception of political marriages with the Iwaki and Nikaidō clans, had his daughters wed influential family members such as Date Sanemoto and Koyanagawa Morimune.  Alliances with influential families in Oushū established through the marriage of Harumune’s daughters were largely forged after succession by his son, Date Terumune.  In this regard, Terumune’s policy to foster blood relationships with other families was more closely aligned with the actions of his grandfather, Tanemune, than his father, Harumune.  Terumune arranged for Harumune’s daughters to marry into the Ashina and Satake clans, as well as adoptions by the Rusu, Kokubun, and Ishikawa clans.

Official appointments by the bakufu

In 1555, the Muromachi bakufu appointed Harumune the Commissioner of Mutsu.  When his father, Tanemune, was appointed the military governor of Mutsu, he did not deny the role of the Ōsaki clan as the Commissioner of Mutsu, but the appointment of Harumune to this post demonstrated the elevation in status of the Date clan and altered the previous policies of the bakufu in regard to local governance.  However, in 1555, based on the appointment of Harumune as the Master of the Eastern Capital Office and the authorization received by Koori Kagenaga (the deputy military governor) to display ceremonial dress on his horse, Harumune was in fact appointed the Commissioner of Mutsu, but there is another view that the formal creation of the role and Harumune’s appointment occurred in the spring of 1559.  Although the bakufu approved the appointment of the Date as the Commissioner of Mutsu, it took a measured approach by establishing facts to support the status of commissioner before making the actual appointment.

In 1563, the Muromachi bakufu recognized fifty daimyō across the entire country.  In Oushū (Mutsu Province), Ashina Moriuji and Harumune were the only two daimyō to receive the honor.

The retirement years

On 6/19 of 1565, Harumune transferred the family to his second son, Date Terumune, and retired to Suginome (Fukushima) Castle in the Shinobu District.  At this time, however, Harumune, along with senior retainers such as Nakano Munetoki, continued to maintain control of the clan.  That same year, after Ashina Moriuji clashed with Nikaidō Moriyoshi (the husband of Harumune’s eldest daughter, Onamihime) and invaded the Iwase District, Harumune attacked Hinohara in support of the Nikaidō, but was repelled.  In 1566, Moriyoshi surrendered and then the Date and Ashina clans entered into a peace agreement on the condition that Moriuji’s eldest son, Ashina Morioki, wed Hikohime (the adopted daughter of Terumune).  Although retired, Harumune opposed the union against the wishes of Terumune.  Terumune proceeded to allow the marriage on the basis that Hikohime was his adopted daughter, and secretly agreed with Moriuji that, in the event the disagreement escalated into conflict with Harumune, Moriuji would support him.

In the summer of 1565, after Harumune’s father, Tanemune, died in Marumori Castle in the Igu District, Sōma Moritane seized Marumori Castle, and, further, took control of the entire Igu District.  This reignited fighting between the Date and Sōma clans that had been in abeyance since the Tenbun Conflict.  Marumori Castle thus became the object of their differences for the ensuing two decades.

Despite his formal retirement, Harumune did not in fact cede any of his control of the clan.  Unable to conceal his frustration after becoming the ostensible leader, Terumune frequently clashed with his father.  In the fourth month of 1570, Terumune acquired real authority after he banished Nakano Munetoki and Makino Hisanaka (father and son) on suspicion of plotting a rebellion, an event known as the Genki Incident.  Harumune then led a secluded existence in Suginome Castle.  Thereafter, the relationship between Terumune and Harumune improved.  In Harumune’s later years, he frequently hosted banquets at Suginome, inviting family members and retainers.  His grandson, Bontenmaru (later known as Date Masamune) is said to have recited waka on these occasions.  On 12/5 of Tenshō 5 (1578), Harumune died in Suginome Castle at the age of fifty-nine.  Following his death, his wife, Kubohime, became a nun and had built the Hōshaku Temple as a memorial to Harumune.