Kimotsuki Kanetsugu

肝付兼続

Kimotsuki Clan

Sengoku Daimyō

Ōsumi Province

Lifespan:  Eishō 8 (1511) to 11/15 of Eiroku 9 (1566)

Rank:  sengoku daimyō

Title:  Governor of Kawachi

Clan:  Kimotsuki

Bakufu:  Muromachi

Father:  Kimotsuki Kaneoki

Mother:  Adopted daughter of Shimazu Tadatomo (natural daughter of Shimazu Hisamichi)

Siblings:  Kanetsugu, sister (formal wife of Shimazu Takahisa), sister (formal wife of Irikiin Shigetsugu), sister (formal wife of Nejime Shigetake)

Wife:  [Formal]  Minan (eldest daughter of Shimazu Tadayoshi); [Consort]  Daughter of Kimotsuki Kaneyoshi, other

Children:  Yoshikane, Kanenaga (?), Kaneshige, daughter (wife of Kimotsuki Gyōbu-Shōyū), daughter (wife of Ei Kaneari), Kanesada, Kaneaki, Kanenori, Kanemori

Kimotsuki Kanetsugu served as a sengoku daimyō of Ōsumi Province during the Sengoku period.  Kanetsugu was the sixteenth head of the Kimotsuki clan.  His common name was Saburō.

In 1511, Kanetsugu was born as the son of Kimotsuki Kaneoki, the fifteenth head of the Kimotsuki clan.

In 1533, after the death of his father, Kaneoki, a succession struggle erupted between Kanetsugu and his uncle, Kimotsuki Kanechika (Kaneoki’s younger brother).  Kanetsugu prevailed and became the sixteenth head of the clan.

Kanetsugu placed importance upon his relationship with the Shimazu clan of neighboring Satsuma Province, marrying the eldest daughter of Shimazu Tadayoshi named Minan.  He also arranged for his younger sister to wed Tadayoshi’s son, Shimazu Takahisa, strengthening relations between the clans via political marriages.

Meanwhile, Kanetsugu endeavored to pacify Ōsumi.  With the fall of Takaoka Castle in 1538, he nearly achieved his goal of bringing all of Ōsumi under his control.  After capturing Mobiki and Hirafusa castles in 1542, Araki Castle in 1544, and Futsuhara Castle in 1546, the Kimotsuki clan further expanded their authority in Ōsumi.  In 1533, Kanetsugu transferred headship of the clan to his son and designated heir, Kimotsuki Yoshikane, and entered the priesthood, but continued to maintain his grip on power.

In 1558, the formerly close relationship with the Shimazu clan collapsed, and Kanetsugu joined with the Itō clan of Hyūga Province to fight against Shimazu Tadachika.  In 1561, he seized Meguri Castle, entering into earnest conflict against Shimazu Takahisa.  At the Battle of Takeharayama, he killed Takahisa’s younger brother, Shimazu Tadamasa, en route to a major victory.  During this time, Kanetsugu urged Minan to separate, but she did not oblige.

In 1562, the Kimotsuki toppled Shibushi Castle, marking the pinnacle of the size of their territory.  In this location, Kanetsugu built a home and, during his retirement, continued to oversee affairs of governance.  In 1564, he prevailed in battle against Shimazu Tadachika at Fukuhara in Hyūga Province.  In 1566, he fought against Hongō Tokihisa (who was allied with the Shimazu) and won, advancing to Fukushima.

On 11/14 of Eiroku 9 (1566), the Kimotsuki were subject to a counterattack by Shimazu Takahisa resulting in the loss of his base at Kōyama Castle.  Kanetsugu’s whereabouts at this time are uncertain, but, according to one theory, he took his own life on 11/5 near his retirement home in Shibushi.  He was fifty-six years old.

The theory that Kanetsugu took his own life appears in local historical accounts written in later eras.  Records of the Kimotsuki clan do not make reference to Kanetsugu taking his own life, so there is a strong argument that he did not do so.  In fact, even if his base was toppled, the power of the Kimotsuki clan at this time was on a par with the Shimazu so it is not likely that event would have led to Kanetsugu ending his life, nor is there any reference to Kanetsugu killing himself in the records of the Shimazu clan.