The Oda of Owari Province were originally retainers of the Shiba deputy governor family (starting from around 1400). When the Shiba’s power dwindled in the early Sengoku period, the Oda became lords of Owari, although they continued to acknowledge Shiba supremacy until the 1550s. Two main rival factions of the Oda, known as the Kiyosu and Iwakura branches, contended for decades, with the Kiyosu faction, eventually led by Oda Nobunaga, becoming dominant by 1555. The Oda rose rapidly with Nobunaga’s drive for national hegemony but lost most of its influence following his death. The Oda’s roots are obscure and while Nobunaga claimed Taira descent, this was and is impossible to confirm. In fact, the relationship between the Kiyosu and Iwakura Oda is unclear.
Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) was the second son of Oda Nobuhide and united the feuding branches of the Oda and consolidated his hold over Owari by 1558. In 1560 he won a stunning victory at Okehazama, defeating the powerful Imagawa Yoshimoto. In 1564 he defeated the Saito clan and made his capital at Gifu. Campaigns against the Azai and Asakura clans followed, including the battle of Anegawa in 1570. In 1571 he destroyed the temples of Mount Hiei, ending forever their military and political influence. Other religious rivals caused him more problems, however, and his campaign against the Ikko-ikki at Nagashima and Ishiyama Honganji lasted a decade. In 1575 he fought the decisive battle of Nagashino, famous for its prominent use of firearms. In 1576 he built Azuchi castle, and towards the end of his life conducted successful campaigns in Ise and Iga provinces, while loyal generals attacked the Mori and Uesugi domains. At the pinnacle of power he was assassinated by one of his leading retainers, Akechi Mitsuhide, while residing at Honnoji temple in Kyoto. He was a shrewd politician and an innovative military leader.
Oda Nobutada (1557-1582) was the eldest son of Nobunaga. He fought in many of his father’s campaigns once he had come of age, and by 1575 was trusted to lead on his own. He was responsible for bringing down the Takeda’s Iwamura Castle in 1575 in a two-part siege. He later joined Tsutsui Junkei in forcing Matsunaga Hisahide to commit suicide in 1577 at Shigizan. In 1582 he led an army into Shinano as part of the invasion of the Takeda lands and besieged Takato Castle. He was in Kyoto when Akechi Mitsuhide rose against his father and killed him at Honnoji temple. Having failed to save his father, he withdrew to Nijo Castle, where he was besieged and forced to commit suicide by the Akechi forces.
Oda Nobuo (1558-1630), also commonly known as Oda Nobukatsu, was the second son of Oda Nobunaga. In 1569 he was adopted into the Kitabatake family following the submission of that family to guarantee Oda control over Ise province. He assumed leadership of the Kitabatake clan in 1576. He was involved in the Oda campaigns in Iga province and Nobunaga had intended to send him against the Chosokabe clan of Shikoku (as a surviving letter indicates). Nobuo inherited much of Owari as well as Ise after the death of Nobunaga in 1582. His claim to his father’s position was supported by Tokugawa Ieyasu, leading to the 1584 Komaki campaign, but Nobuo felt compelled to make a separate peace with Hideyoshi by the end of the year. He became the guardian of Toyotomi Hideyori after Hideyoshi’s death in 1598. He betrayed the Toyotomi clan at the Siege of Osaka, however, and as a result, he was permitted to remain a daimyo by the Tokugawa shogunate.
Oda Nobutaka (1558-1583) was the third son of Nobunaga and was adopted into the Kambe family of Ise. After the death of his father he joined Hideyoshi’s army and at the Battle of Yamazaki helped defeat Akechi Mitsuhide. He was supported as heir to the Oda clan by Shibata Katsuie and defied a request by Hideyoshi to release Samboshi (the late Oda Nobutada’s son) into his custody. Afterwards he plotted with Katsuie against Hideyoshi but acted recklessly by raising his banners at Gifu Castle before the Shibata were in a position to help him. Faced with Hideyoshi’s army, he quickly submitted, only to rebel the following spring. He was briefly besieged at Gifu, then committed suicide when he learned that Shibata Katsuie had taken his own life following his defeat at the Battle of Shizugatake.
Akechi Mitsuhide (1526-1582) entered Oda service in 1566 after serving the Saito clan of Mino province. In 1577 he was assigned with subduing Tamba province, which would be given him in 1580. In 1582 Nobunaga ordered Mitsuhide to prepare his troops for duty against the Mori clan. Mitsuhide duly gathered his army, but suddenly attacked and killed Nobunaga on June 21, 1582. Akechi troops also pursued and besieged Nobunaga’s heir, Nobutada, who committed suicide. In the aftermath of the coup, Mitsuhide failed to gain support from local lords despite personal connections to the Hosokawa clan and the Imperial Court. Within thirteen days of the assassination of Nobunaga, Mitsuhide was defeated by Hashiba (Toyotomi) Hideyoshi at the Battle of Yamazaki. He escaped the battlefield but was killed soon afterwards. He is sometimes called the “thirteen-day shogun.”
Hashiba Hideyoshi (1536-1598), better known as Toyotomi Hideyoshi, was allegedly born in Nakumura, a village in Owari. At some point he entered service to the Oda clan, though the historical record does not mention him prior to around 1570. Tradition has that he was at one time a sandal-bearer for Nobunaga and played an important role in attaining the 1567 victory at Inabayama, supposedly building a castle in a single night. In 1573, after victorious campaigns against the Azai and Asakura clans, Nobunaga appointed Hideyoshi daimyo of three districts in northern Omi province. He was chosen to lead a campaign against the Mori clan 1576 and he was to be occupied with this mission for the next six years. He swiftly reacted to the 1582 assassination of Oda Nobunaga, defeating Akechi Mitsuhide at the Battle of Yamazaki. A charismatic figure, he would go on to subdue all of Japan by 1590 and launch two unsuccessful military campaigns in Korea. Despite being an infamous philanderer, he struggled to produce an heir, and in 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu effectively seized power from his young successor, Toyotomi Hideyori.
Shibata Katsuie (1530-1583) served Oda Nobunaga throughout the latter’s career. He initially supported Nobunaga’s elder brother, Nobuyuki, and launched a failed coup against Nobunaga in 1556. Nobunaga killed his brother but pardoned Katsuie, and from that point Katsuie served Nobunaga faithfully. In 1567 he divorced his wife, Nobunaga’s sister Oichi, so she could marry Azai Nagamasa and thereby cement an alliance between the Oda and Azai clans. Nagamasa would break the alliance in 1570 and attack the Oda clan along with the Asakura clan, and after Nagamasa’s defeat and death, Katsuie and Oichi would re-marry. Katsuie earned great fame when, in defending Chokoji temple from an assault by the Rokkaku clan, he smashed the water storage vessels and led a charge against the besiegers, which resulted in a victory. After Oda Nobunaga’s assassination in 1582, he allied with Oda Nobutaka and Takigawa Kazumasu against Hashiba Hideyoshi, who Katsuie considered an upstart. Hideyoshi defeated Katsuie at the Battle of Shizugatake in 1583. He retreated to Kitanosho Castle and committed suicide along with Oichi.
Maeda Toshiie (1538-1599) entered Nobunaga’s service in 1551 as a page and later became a military commander. He apparently earned the ire of Nobunaga, who exiled him, but he returned to Nobunaga’s good graces by 1560. Nobunaga later rewarded him for his service by appointing him the head of Maeda clan, despite Toshiie having four older brothers. He fought at Anegawa and Nagashino, and was named lord of Echizen in 1574. After Nobunaga’s death he initially supported Shibata Katsuie, fighting at Shizugatake, but he later shifted his allegiance to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and as a reward he had Kaga province added to his domain. He fought against the Hojo in 1590 and conducted administrative duties during the Korean campaigns. Before dying in 1598, Hideyoshi named Toshiie to the council of Five Elders to rule as regents until Toyotomi Hideyori came of age. Toshiie, however, died just a year later, and in 1600, Tokuguawa Ieyasu seized power.
Takigawa Kazumazu (?-1586) was one of Nobunaga’s most loyal men, and served him from about 1558 onward. He was given land in Ise province sometime around 1569 and supported Oda Nobuo, heir to the Kitabatake house. Kazumasu also rendered service to the Oda in domestic matters, assisting in the construction of Azuchi Castle in 1578. Kazumasu’s battle record was mixed, as he had fled from Mikatagahara and acted poorly during the first Iga Invasion. Following Nobunaga’s death he supported Shibata Katsuie, but submitted to Hideyoshi after he was besieged in Kanagawa. He assisted Hideyoshi during the Komaki Campaign against Tokugawa Ieyasu by attacking Kanie Castle along with Kûki Yoshitaka. He afterwards retired into obscurity.
Niwa Nagahide (1535-1583) was one of Oda Nobunaga’s chief retainers and married to his niece. He was present at many of Nobunaga’s battles and was named one of the administrators of Kyoto after Nobunaga entered that city in 1568. He was given the task of building Azuchi Castle and for his efforts was awarded a fief at Obama in Wakasa Province. After Nobunaga’s death in June 1582, Nagahide hesitated in attacking Mitsuhide himself, but did join Hideyoshi’s army in Osaka and took part in the Battle of Yamazaki. Nagahide was neutral during Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s war with Shibata Katsuie, but did support the former the next year, marching against Sassa Narimasa during the Komaki Campaign. After 1575, Niwa was often referred to as Korezumi Gorozaemon.
Sassa Narimasa (1539?-1588) served Nobunaga from his early career in Owari. In 1575 he was given lands in Echizen but he was transferred to Etchu in 1581 and immediately conducted a land survey there. While under the Oda banner, Narimasa fought at Nagashino (1575), Tedorigawa (1577), Arakawa (1581), and Uzu (1582). He supported Shibata Katsuie during the Shizugatake Campaign, and the following year threw in his lot with Tokugawa Ieyasu. When faced with the approach of Hideyoshi himself in 1585, Narimasa surrendered. He lost Etchû but was spared and was given a fief in Higo Province in 1587 but was made to commit suicide the following year for poor administration.
Hori Hidemasa (1553-1590) was from Owari province and began his career in the service of Nobunaga. In 1581 he was ordered to conduct a land survey in Izumi and during the course of the survey the Makinoji (a branch temple of the Kongobuji of Mt. Koyo) took up arms on 11 June. Hidemasa attacked the temple and burned it. Later that year he was awarded Obama Castle in Wakasa and in June 1582 joined in Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s attack on Akechi Mitsuhide. He fought at Yamazaki and soon afterwards defeated Akechi Mitsuharu at Uchide-hama, near Otsu. He went on to secure Sakamoto Castle, which became part of a large fief he was awarded in Omi. Hidemasa participated in the Komaki Campaign (1584) on Hideyoshi’s side, and led 3,000 men at the Battle of Nagakute. He joined the Toyotomi army besieging Odawara Castle in 1590 but died in camp during the campaign.
Ikeda Nobuteru (1536-1584), also known as Ikeda Tsuneoki and Ikeda Shonyû, began his career as a common soldier under Nobunaga, to whom his mother had acted as a wet-nurse. He received his first command in 1557 and served at the Battle of Okehazama that same year. In 1566 he was given the castle of Kinota in Mino province and in 1570 he was made the commander of Inuyama Castle following his participation in the Battle of Anegawa. After the death of Nobunaga in June 1582, he fought for Hideyoshi at Yamazaki. He participated in the Komaki Campaign in 1584, and was a commander at the Battle of Nagakute against the Tokugawa. He died during the battle, slain by a Tokugawa samurai.
Mori Yoshinari (1523-1570) was the eldest son of Mori Yoshiyuki. He is said to have first served the Saito of Mino, though this period of his life is hazy. Around 1555 he became a retainer of Oda Nobunaga and may have been present for Nobunaga’s capture of Kiyosu Castle that same year. A veteran of Iwakura (1558) and Okehazama (1560), he assisted Nobunaga in his campaign against Saito Tatsuoki and in the course of it was established at Kanayama Castle (1565). He led his men with Nobunaga to Kyoto in 1568, along the way participating in the attack on the Rokkaku’s Kannonji Castle. He was established at Usayama Castle in Ômi Province (near Ôtsu) along with Oda Nobuharu and some 4,000 men. In September of 1570, Usayama was attacked by an Azai army of 30,000 men. Yoshinari and his eldest son, along with Nobuharu, fell in the fighting.
Takayama Ukon (1522-1614), whose formal name was Shigetomo, was the son of Takayama Tomoteru and joined Oda Nobunaga when the latter entered Kyoto in 1568. He was given Takatsuki Castle in 1573 and assisted in the siege of the Ishiyama Honganji. He initially supported Araki Murashige’s rebellion against Oda Nobunaga in 1578 but was persuaded to switch sides at the behest of the Jesuit Padre Gnecchi-Soldo Organtino (Ukon was a Christian). He was allowed to retain Takatsuki after Araki fled to the western provinces. After Nobunaga died, Ukon supported Hideyoshi and took part in the Battle of Yamazaki and in the Shizugatake Campaign (1583). He was destined to fall out of favor, however, and at least in part due to his religious convictions. He was deprived of his domain in 1587 and eventually ended up with Maeda Toshiie in Kaga. In 1617 he was exiled to Manila, where he died of illness not long after arriving.
Hayashi Hidesada (?-1580) was a son of Hayashi Hachirozaemon and acted as a childhood tutor to Oda Nobunaga. He plotted with Shibata Katsuie and Oda Nobuyuki against Nobunaga in 1557 but was pardoned for his actions and went on to govern land in his native Owari Province. Hidesada was active in government following Nobunaga’s arrival in Kyoto in 1568 and tended to various administrative and diplomatic tasks. After 1577 he was ordered to attend to Oda Nobutada, Nobunaga’s heir, and accompanied him on both military and domestic assignments. Hidesada was abruptly purged from the Oda ranks in 1580 on charges of treasonous behavior. He probably lived in Kyoto but died in few years.
Inaba Yoshimichi (1515-1588), also known as Inaba Ittetsu, was at first one of the three major generals of Mino, gaining the collective title of the Mino Triumvirate alongside Ando Morinari and Ujiie Bokuzen. In 1561 Inaba joined his Triumvirate in betraying Saitō and arraying their forces against Mt. Inabayama, helping Nobunaga gain control of Mino as a result. He was present at the Battle of Anegawa (1570). After Nobunaga Oda died in the assassination at Honnōji, Ittetsu sided with Hideyoshi Hashiba in the war of succession that followed. He served in Hideyoshi’s headquarters during the Komaki Campaign (1584). His son, Inaba Masanari, was the husband of Lady Kasuga, who established the Ooku, the harem for the Tokugawa shogunate during the Edo period.