Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chapter 24. The Assembly of Regents

In the seventh year of the reign of the Emperor Showa, Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi realized that death was approaching him. The yellow fever he caught in Korea hath never recovered, and the shame and disappointment of defeat at Pyongyang hath sapped his strength to fight the disease. Some days, he would openly talk about the beauty of Lady Maeda Mariko or Princess Seong Yon. On other days, he would rant like a madman about those he hath slain in combat such as Asakura Tadatatsu.

Ishida Misunari, Hideyoshi’s loyal general, was made Second Regent of the Toyotomi Shogunate. His rivalry with Tokugawa Ieayasue would tear the land apart.

Hideyoshi’s only son by Ochiba, Hideyori, was still very young, and he was worried that the boy could not rule the Empire, so he called Tokugawa Ieayasue in to meet him.

Hideyoshi: “What is to prevent you from usurping my son once I am gone?”

Ieayasue: “In truth, my Lord Shogun, nothing.”

Hideyoshi (Laughing): “Then, I shall have you beheaded. Haha…what if the other nobles remain loyal to Hideyori? Will they be able to stop you?”

Ieayasue: “No my Lord. If it is your wish, I shall commit hara-kiri now.”

Hideyoshi: “No, no…You shall join the Assembly of Regents and be first amongst them. It is you who shall protect Toyotomi”

Ieayasue (Bowing): “Yes, my Lord.”

And so, in this manner, Hideyoshi appointed Hideyori as his Heir and acting Shogun. Hideyori was to become Ieayasue’s foster son, so the bonds of fatherhood would prevent betrayal. In addition, Hideyori was to marry Ieayasue’s daughter when they came of age. In return, an Assembly of Regents was formed. Councilor Ieayasue was made First Regent and leader of this powerful Assembly.

“Ishida Misunari, Supreme Commander, was made Second Regent and Lord of all Lands once ruled by Akechi Jinsai,” the herald continued. “Lord Mori Homatsu of Nagasaki shall be Third Regent and Treasurer of the Realm. Lord Uesungi Nagamasa shall be created Fourth Regent and made Lord of Owari (Nobunaga’s homeland) in addition to his current position. Finally, the brave Lord Maeda Kaeji shall be made Fifth Regent and given the Island of Ryukyu to enlarge his power.”

And in this way, the Regents were strengthened, and Hideyoshi rested easy in the knowledge that no other noble would challenge the claim of his son to the Shogunal Throne. The Regents themselves would join force against one another and favor Hideyori if one of them was to betray the Heir, and how couldst the powerful Ieayasue betray his own son and son-in-law? Surely, the plan was full-proof.

After setting up this arrangement, the Shogun Hideyoshi died a peaceful death in the eight year of the reign of the Showa Emperor.

Immediately after the death of Hideyoshi, tensions arose between the Regents. The two who barely got along were First Regent Ieayasue and the Treasurer Mori Homatsu. Homatsu got along with everyone else. He was best friends with Lady Ochiba, Mother to the Heir, but Ieayasue felt that he did not treat him with respect. So conflicts arose between the two men.

When his trade route was blocked by Homatsu’s men, Ieayasue demanded that the situation be resolved, but Homatsu merely said, “I too am Regent”, meaning that he was Ieayasue’s equal. At another time, the Christians of Nagasaki resurged after the death of Hideyoshi, who curbed activity of the Church, and the gaijins made fun of Ieayasue.

This was the last straw. In the twelfth year of the Emperor Showa, Ieayasue marched to Nagasaki and besieged the port city. Chikuzabe Daito, son of Admiral Korusho, became an ally to the Tokugawas, and helped blockade Nagasaki by sea. Finally, the city fell. Ieayasue removed Homatsu from control of his clan and replaced him with his distant cousin Mori Sugiyama, who had no claim to glory or wealth. He also hath Sugiyama appointed as Third Regent and Treasurer in Homatsu’s stead.

Ieayasue’s presence was now overbearing and an annoyance to the other regents, especially Second Regent Ishida Misunari, who was also Supreme Commander of Japan, and it seem that one day, the tensions would simply break into a full scale war between the powerful lords of Japan.

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