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Nabeshima clan

Nabeshima clan

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The Nabeshima clan was a prominent Japanese samurai clan of Kyūshū
Kyushu
is the third largest island of Japan and most southwesterly of its four main islands. Its alternate ancient names include , , and . The historical regional name is referred to Kyushu and its surrounding islands....

 which controlled Saga Domain
Saga Domain
Saga Domain was a han, or feudal domain, in Tokugawa period Japan. Largely contiguous with Hizen Province on Kyūshū, the domain was governed from Saga Castle in the capital city of Saga by the Nabeshima clan of tozama daimyō...

 from the late Sengoku period
Sengoku period
The or Warring States period in Japanese history was a time of social upheaval, political intrigue, and nearly constant military conflict that lasted roughly from the middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century. The name "Sengoku" was adopted by Japanese historians in reference...

 through the Edo period
Edo period
The , or , is a division of Japanese history which was ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family, running from 1603 to 1868. The political entity of this period was the Tokugawa shogunate....

.

The Nabeshima clan was a cadet branch of the Shōni clan
Shoni clan
was a family of Japanese nobles descended from the Fujiwara family, many of whom held high government offices in Kyūshū. Prior to the Kamakura period , "Shōni" was originally a title and post within the Kyūshū government, roughly translating to "Junior Counselor", and working under a Daini...

 and was descended from the Fujiwara clan. In the late 12th century, Fujiwara no Sukeyori, a descendant of Fujiwara no Hidesato
Fujiwara no Hidesato
was a kuge of tenth century Heian Japan. He is famous for his military exploits and courage, and is regarded the common ancestor of the Ōshū branch of the Fujiwara clan, the Yūki, Oyama, and Shimokōbe families....

 in the 9th generation, received the title of Dazai Shōni (equivalent to that of vice-governor of the military government of Kyūshū) from Shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo
Minamoto no Yoritomo
was the founder and the first shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate of Japan. He ruled from 1192 until 1199.-Early life and exile :Yoritomo was the third son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo, heir of the Minamoto clan, and his official wife, a daughter of Fujiwara no Suenori, who was a member of the...

, and the title became the family name.

The clan played an important role in the region as early as the Muromachi period
Muromachi period
The is a division of Japanese history running from approximately 1336 to 1573. The period marks the governance of the Muromachi or Ashikaga shogunate, which was officially established in 1338 by the first Muromachi shogun, Ashikaga Takauji, two years after the brief Kemmu restoration of imperial...

, when it helped suppress opposition to the Ashikaga shogunate
Ashikaga shogunate
The , also known as the , was a Japanese feudal military regime, ruled by the shoguns of the Ashikaga clan.This period is also known as the Muromachi period and gets its name from Muromachi Street of Kyoto where the third shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu established his residence...

's control of Kyūshū. It did not take the name Nabeshima, however, until the late 15th century, when Shōni Shigenao established himself at Nabeshima in Hizen province
Hizen Province
was an old province of Japan in the area of Saga and Nagasaki prefectures. It was sometimes called , with Higo Province. Hizen bordered on the provinces of Chikuzen and Chikugo. The province was included in Saikaidō...

 (today part of Saga City
Saga, Saga
is the capital of Saga Prefecture, located on the island of Kyūshū, Japan.Saga was the capital of Saga Domain in the Edo period, and largest city of former Hizen Province....

, Saga prefecture
Saga Prefecture
is located in the northwest part of the island of Kyūshū, Japan. It touches both the Sea of Japan and the Ariake Sea. The western part of the prefecture is a region famous for producing ceramics and porcelain, particularly the towns of Karatsu, Imari, and Arita...

). Later, in the Sengoku period (1467-1603), the Nabeshima were one of a number of clans which clashed over the island. The Nabeshima sided with the Ryūzōji clan
Ryuzoji clan
The was a Japanese clan which claimed descent from Fujiwara Hidesato. It came to prominence in the Sengoku period, in the fighting in northern Kyūshū. Their descendants became retainers of the Matsudaira clan of Aizu, and remained there until the Meiji Restoration...

 against the Ōtomo clan
Otomo clan
The Ōtomo clan was a Japanese clan whose power stretched from the Kamakura period through the Sengoku period, spanning over 400 years. The clan's hereditary lands lay in Kyūshū....

, though this ultimately ended in failure and the death of Ryūzōji Takanobu
Ryuzoji Takanobu
was a Japanese daimyo of the Sengoku period, who ruled a region in northern Kyūshū. He was the eldest son of Ryūzōji Chikaie, and upon headship, became the 19th head of the Ryūzōji clan. Takanobu's son, Masaie, would become the last head of the Ryūzōji....

 at the 1584 battle of Okita Nawate
Battle of Okita Nawate
The Battle of Okita Nawate was fought on May 3 of 1584 between the combined forces of the Shimazu and Arima clans, and the Ryūzōji army.Ryūzōji Takanobu was attacking a number of independent clans close to his territories. In 1582 he attacked the Arima clan and Arima Harunobu decided to ask the...

. Several years later, however, the Nabeshima recovered power and prominence by aiding Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Toyotomi Hideyoshi
was a daimyo warrior, general and politician of the Sengoku period. He unified the political factions of Japan. He succeeded his former liege lord, Oda Nobunaga, and brought an end to the Sengoku period. The period of his rule is often called the Momoyama period, named after Hideyoshi's castle...

 in his 1587 invasion of Kyūshū
Kyushu Campaign
The Kyūshū Campaign of 1586-1587 was part of the campaigns of Toyotomi Hideyoshi who sought to dominate Japan at the end of the Sengoku period...

; Nabeshima Naoshige
Nabeshima Naoshige
a retainer of the Ryūzōji clan during the Sengoku period of the 16th century. Naoshige was the son of Nabeshima Kiyosada and was known as Nobumasa throughout half of his career under the Ryūzōji. Naoshige proved himself as being one of the greatest generals under Ryūzōji Takanobu...

 was granted the region of Saga as his fief, as a reward for his efforts. Naoshige also contributed to Hideyoshi's invasions of Korea in the 1590s.

The clan initially aided Ishida Mitsunari
Ishida Mitsunari
Ishida Mitsunari was a samurai who led the Western army in the Battle of Sekigahara following the Azuchi-Momoyama period of the 17th century. Also known by his court title, Jibunoshō...

 against Tokugawa Ieyasu
Tokugawa Ieyasu
 was the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan , which ruled from the Battle of Sekigahara  in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Ieyasu seized power in 1600, received appointment as shogun in 1603, abdicated from office in 1605, but...

 in the Sekigahara Campaign in 1600. However, they switched sides to support the Tokugawa, who were ultimately victorious, before the campaign had ended, battling and occupying the forces of Tachibana Muneshige
Tachibana Muneshige
, known in his youth as Senkumaru and alternatively called Tachibana Munetora , was a samurai during the Azuchi–Momoyama period and a Edo Period daimyo. He was the eldest biological son of Takahashi Shigetane, a retainer of Ōtomo clan...

, who was thus prevented from contributing directly to the battle of Sekigahara. Though regarded as tozama
Tozama
A ' was a daimyo who was considered an outsider by the rulers of Japan. The term came into use in the Kamakura period and continued until the end of the Edo period.-Edo period:...

 daimyō
("outside" lords), and assigned particularly heavy corvee
Corvée
Corvée is unfree labour, often unpaid, that is required of people of lower social standing and imposed on them by the state or a superior . The corvée was the earliest and most widespread form of taxation, which can be traced back to the beginning of civilization...

duties, the Nabeshima were allowed to keep their territory in Saga, and in fact had their kokudaka
Kokudaka
refers to a system for determining land value for tribute purposes in Edo period Japan and expressing this value in koku of rice. This tribute was no longer a percentage of the actual quantity of rice harvested, but was assessed based on the quality and size of the land...

increased. The clan's forces served the new Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

 loyally in the years which followed; they remained in Kyūshū during the 1615 Osaka Campaign
Siege of Osaka
The was a series of battles undertaken by the Tokugawa shogunate against the Toyotomi clan, and ending in that clan's destruction. Divided into two stages , and lasting from 1614 to 1615, the siege put an end to the last major armed opposition to the shogunate's establishment...

 as a check against a possible rebellion or uprising by the Shimazu clan
Shimazu clan
The were the daimyō of the Satsuma han, which spread over Satsuma, Ōsumi and Hyūga provinces in Japan.The Shimazu were identified as one of the tozama or outsider daimyō clans in contrast with the fudai or insider clans which were hereditary vassals or allies of the Tokugawa clan,The Shimazu were...

, and aided in the suppression of the Shimabara Rebellion
Shimabara Rebellion
The was an uprising largely involving Japanese peasants, most of them Catholic Christians, in 1637–1638 during the Edo period.It was one of only a handful of instances of serious unrest during the relatively peaceful period of the Tokugawa shogunate's rule...

 of 1637. In recognition of their service, members of the clan were granted the prestigious family name Matsudaira
Matsudaira clan
The was a Japanese samurai clan that claimed descent from the Minamoto clan. It first originated in and took its name from Matsudaira village, in Mikawa Province . Over the course of its history, the clan produced many branches, most of which also centered around Mikawa Province...

 in 1648.

During the Edo period, the clan's Saga Domain became quite famous for the porcelain wares produced there; these are sometimes known as "Nabeshima ware" after the name of the clan, or as "Imari wares
Imari porcelain
Imari porcelain is the name for Japanese porcelain wares made in the town of Arita, in the former Hizen Province, northwestern Kyūshū. They were exported to Europe extensively from the port of Imari, Saga between latter half of 17th century and former half of 18 th century, Japanese as well as the...

" after the port town of Imari
Imari, Saga
is a city located in Saga Prefecture on the island of Kyūshū, Japan. Imari is most notable because of Imari porcelain, which is the European collectors' name for Japanese porcelain wares made in the town of Arita, Saga Prefecture. The porcelain was exported from the port of Imari specifically for...

 from where they were exported.

Notable clan members

  • Nabeshima Naoshige
    Nabeshima Naoshige
    a retainer of the Ryūzōji clan during the Sengoku period of the 16th century. Naoshige was the son of Nabeshima Kiyosada and was known as Nobumasa throughout half of his career under the Ryūzōji. Naoshige proved himself as being one of the greatest generals under Ryūzōji Takanobu...

     (1537-1619)
  • Nabeshima Katsushige
    Nabeshima Katsushige
    ' was a Japanese daimyo of the early Edo period. Born to Nabeshima Naoshige, he became lord of Saga-han.-Biography:...

     (1580-1657)
  • Nabeshima Motoshige
    Nabeshima Motoshige
    Nabeshima Motoshige the eldest son of Nabeshima Katsushige, elder brother of Nabeshima Tadanao, elder uncle of Nabeshima Mitsushige, the Saga feudal lords...

  • Nabeshima Naomasa
    Nabeshima Naomasa
    was the 10th and final daimyō of Saga Domain in Hizen Province, Kyūshū, Japan. His honorary title was Hizen-no-Kami, and he was occasionally referred to as “Prince Hizen” in western accounts during the Bakumatsu period.-Biography:...

    (1814-1871)