Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chapter 21. The Catholics of Nagasaki

Just as Nobunaga was distrustful of the Buddhists, so Hideyoshi was wary of the Portuguese Catholics of Nagasaki, for they were in control of firearms and could at any moment support a rival warlord against him, or perhaps even try to conquer the Empire themselves. The Portuguese, led by Father Alfonso and the merchant Henrique de Sequiera, did not honor the Shogun, and their nonchalant attitude irked him very much.

The Oura Church of Nagasaki. The great port town has always had a large population of Catholics even in the Sengoku period.

In the fortieth year of the reign of the Haisan-jo Emperor, Hideyoshi marched against Nagasaki with a great force. The daimyo who ruled it, Mori Homatsu, was a coward in the best of times. He vacated the city, declared de Sequiera an outlaw, and came out to greet Hideyoshi.

And so, the Portuguese soldiers seized control of Nagasaki. De Sequiera claimed the city for the King of Portugal and named Father Alfonso as the Bishop of Nagasaki. Now, it was easy for Hideyoshi to rally the rest of Japan against Nagasaki, which he claimed was infested by Portuguese invaders.

De Sequiera was a disillusioned man if he thought he could win, for although he had the better guns than Hideyoshi, there were really only 1,500 Portuguese who controlled the city. The Shogun, on the other hand, has 150,000 soldiers with him.

Even then, the Shogun took no chances. He ordered Admiral Chikuzabe Korusho to blockade the port of Nagasaki, so that Portugal or any of de Sequiera’s allies could not send him any reinforcements, ammunitions, or additional guns.

Then, he formed an alliance with 500 Dutch mercenaries and traders led by Djork van Houten, who hath just arrived from the Dutch colony of Batavia (Indonesia), promising them entry into Nagasaki and more trade with Japan.
And so, the Battle of Nagasaki began in earnest. Many Dutch soldiers, serving in the front lines, died in this battle. De Sequiera remained confident of the strong fortress of Nagasaki and railed his men on: “Christians in arms, know that the Lord above is our Savior. The fortress of Nagasaki is strong, and our guns are superior to the junk carried by the Shogun’s men.”

The Portuguese fought hard, and they fought like heroes. But as their bullets and food supply ran short, it was clear they would be defeated. The Japanese in the city rebelled against them and captured both de Sequiera and Bishop Alfonso and opened the gates to Hideyoshi. The 200 remaining Dutch soldiers were the first to enter Nagasaki, followed by Hideyoshi’s army. The great Shogun hath triumphed over the foreign devils!!

The gaijins (foreingers) were defeated. Now, Hideyoshi was a great reader of European history, so he ordered the Portuguese crucified, including Bishop Alfonso, who thought himself a matyr.

Van Houten now claimed that he should be made Govenor of Nagasaki in de Sequiera’s place, but Hideyoshi did not listen to him. With only 200 men…and injured ones at that, Van Houten was no match for the Shogun. Fighting broke out between the Japanese and the Dutch, and the entire Dutch army was wiped out. In this manner, Hideyoshi regained control of Nagasaki, and Mori Homatsu became even more subservient to him than before.

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