Lifespan: Kōji 2 (1556) to 10/2 Keichō 12 (1607)
Other Names: Chōhōshimaru (childhood), Shigekata, Hisaie, Tarō-shirō (common)
Rank: bushō, sengoku daimyō
Title: Junior Fifth Rank (Lower) and Vice Minister of Popular Affairs, Junior Fourth Rank (Lower) and Chamberlain, Governor of Hizen
Lord: Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Father: Ryūzōji Takanobu
Mother: Daughter of Ryūzōji Iekado
Siblings: Masaie, Takahira, Egami Ietane, Gotō Ienobu, Tatsuhime
Wife: Daughter of Arima Yoshisada
Children: Yasuhime, Shōkain, Takafusa, Hata Yatarō, Murata Yasuyoshi, Sano Masayoshi, Inuzuka Ieshige, daughter (wife of Nabeshima Takaakira)
Ryūzōji Masaie served as a bushō and sengoku daimyō of Hizen Province. Masaie was the last head of the Ryūzōji clan.
In 1556, Masaie was born as the lineal heir of Ryūzōji Takanobu, the sengoku daimyō of Hizen. In 1561, he attended his coming-of-age ceremony during which he received one of the characters from the name of Ōtomo Yoshishige (later known as Sōrin), a sengoku daimyo from neighboring Bungo Province, whereupon he adopted the name of Shigetomo. Later, he changed his name to Hisaie and then Masaie.
In 1578, Takanobu transferred the headship of the clan to Masaie, but the succession was in form only, while Takanobu continued to maintain his grip on political and military affairs. In 1584, after Arima Harunobu abandoned the Ryūzōji clan, Masaie was ordered by Takanobu to subdue the Arima clan. Masaie’s formal wife, however, originated from the Arima and was not receptive to the plan so Takanobu himself headed-out to eliminate the Arima while Masaie remained behind to protect their base. At the height of the attack against the Arima, Takanobu was killed in action at the Battle of Okitanawate.
Masaie joined his grandmother to govern affairs in the province, but amidst rumors that the Shimazu army would come to invade, in 1588, Masaie’s uncle, Ryūzōji Nobuchika, consulted with the chief retainers and called back Nabeshima Naoshige from Yanagawa. Nevertheless, as an outcome of the defeat of the Ryūzōji and loss of Takanobu at the Battle of Okitanawate, numerous kokujin formerly under the command of the Ryūzōji abandoned them in favor of the Shimazu so that, at once, the power of the Shimazu expanded into Chikuzen and Chikugo. Masaie then surrendered as the Shimazu pursued a course aiming for a hegemony in Kyūshū.
In 1587, owing to his amity with Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Masaie changed the name of his lineal heir from Chōhōshi to Tōhachirō. As an outcome of the Pacification of Kyūshū by the Toyotomi army, Masaie received official recognition of his rights to seven districts in Hizen comprising a fief of 309,902 koku. The license with the official seal, however, was addressed to Ryūzōji Takafusa (Tōhachirō). Among these landholdings, Nabeshima Naoshige was awarded 30,000 koku (together with his son, Nabeshima Katsushige, a total of 44,500 koku) and Hideyoshi ordered that, in lieu of Masaie, the Nabeshima clan govern the province. In 1588, Masaie was bestowed the Toyotomi surname.
Owing to illness, Masaie retired and, on 11/28 of Tenshō 16 (1591), Masaie adopted Nabeshima Naoshige and, in turn, had Tōhachirō (later known as Takafusa) adopted by Naoshige while he was granted the Hashiba surname. During the Battle of Sekigahara, the Ryūzōji joined the Western Army. Nabeshima Katsushige served in the main division of the Western Army during assaults against Fushimi Castle and Anotsu Castle. Owing to his assault on Tachibana Muneshige of the Western Army, after the war, he received recognition of his rights to his landholdings.
In the third month of 1607, in Edo, Masaie’s son, Takafusa, stabbed his wife to death and attempted to take his own life, resulting in his later death. That same year, Masaie followed his son and also died, marking the end of the main branch of the Ryūzōji as a daimyō family.
Thereafter, based on adjustments to their landholdings, the Nabeshima clan obtained recognition from the Edo bakufu to a fief of 357,000 koku and inherited the remaining territory of the Ryūzōji to form the Saga domain.
Character and Anecdotes
Masaie was awarded by Hideyoshi only seven districts in Hizen Province. Perhaps owing to his dissatisfaction, when an uprising occurred in Higo after the Pacification of Kyūshū, he disobeyed orders to deploy to suppress the uprising. Hideyoshi attempted to punish Masaie, but, following an explanation by Nabeshima Naoshige, the matter was dismissed.
During the Pacification of Kyūshū, Masaie is said to have lost to Hideyoshi in a game of go and was unhappy about the loss so, as Hideyoshi departed, he failed to wish him on his way.
He had a seal in the shape of a handheld fan. For persons of high rank, he used a red seal, and for persons of lower rank, he used a black seal.