FAMOUS SAMURAIS: DATE MASAMUNE, THE ONE-EYED DRAGON

FAMOUS SAMURAIS: DATE MASAMUNE, THE ONE-EYED DRAGON

When talking about true warriors, about famous samurais, Date Masamune “the one-eyed Dragon” deserves an outstanding mention.

His vision, open mind, cunning, intelligence and fierceness made Data Masamune one of the most respected samurai of all times.

While many other generals distinguished themselves by being great strategists away from the battlefields, Date Masamune was characterized by its great handling of the katana and excellent war strategies.

He kept the tactical thinking but also the drawn and ready to attack katana, he is remembered among other things, for his great courage.

FAMOUS SAMURAIS: DATE MASAMUNE, THE DRAGON OF A SINGLE EYE THAT FOUNDED SENDAI

Date Masamune’s life, like that of many samurais, was not easy, since he was little he prepared for war.

He was born in Yonezawa, Yamagata Prefecture on September 5th, 1567, his father was Date Terumune, lord of the Date clan in northern Japan.

During his childhood and early youth, Masamune was known as Botenmaru and later as Tojirou Masamune.

A particular fact that would mark Masamune’s life is that he lost his right eye from a young age, although it is not known exactly why.

At the age of 14 he had his first test of courage and leadership, when he accompanied his father in a battle against the enemy clan of the Soma.

YOUTH OF DATE MASAMUNE

When he was just  14, Date Masamune was already married to Megohime, daughter of Tamura Kiyoaki, and he was already known for his great momentum and courage on the battlefield.

DATE MASAMUNE

In 1585, at the age of 18, his father Date Terumune, inherited the succession of the Date clan, although his mother did not trust that he could do it because he was missing an eye.

But his heart guided him more than his missing eye could have done, at a young age he began to raze with the neighboring clans, especially against the Ashina. And after a bloody and violent campaign Masamune conquered Obama Castle.

This fact bothered another enemy clan, the Hatakeyama clan because the lands invaded by Masamune were under his power.

Hatakeyama Yoshitsugo, clan leader, attended a banquet with Terumune, asking him to control his son’s campaigns and prevent him from attacking his lands.

DEATH OF THE FATHER OF DATE MASAMUNE

As Terumune replied to his enemy Yoshitsugo that he could not control his son’s campaigns, he kidnapped him wielding katana and wakizashi.

Masamune was hunting when his father’s kidnapping occurred and immediately paid action. He reached those responsible at the Abukuma River shore, where they tried to escape with old Terumune as a hostage.

His father yelled at him to kill them all, that it mattered if he died, however Masamune did not listen to him and Yoshitsugo cut his father’s neck before escaping down the river.

Date Masamune, full of rage and pain, pursued and annihilated his entire army, shortly after he arrived at the fort of the Hatakeyama clan, where everyone would pay for his father’s crime.

He commanded to torture and assassinate each and every one of the Hatakeyama family, and it is said that he cut off Yoshitsugo’s head and exhibited it in his own castle as a sample of what he was capable of doing.

THE FURY OF DATE MASAMUNE

That would only be the beginning of his bloodiest campaigns, after losing his father, he decided to end once and for all with the remaining Ashina.

And by 1589, with only 22 years of age, after beating the Ashina, he conquered Aizu and made it his place of operations.

Despite his victories, his mother kept thinking that his youngest son would be better running the clan, so she tried to poison Masamune at dinner.

In response to his betrayal, Masamune had his younger brother executed, while his mother fled with the Mogami clan, which his brother led.

By 1590, Date Masamune ran into the power of the great samurai Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who decreed that all Tohoku daimyos should join him in the Siege of Odawara Castle.

But Date Masamune was too irreverent to obey and delayed his and his army’s assistance to the campaign, which caused Hideyoshi’s fury.

THE POWER OF DATE MASAMUNE

The great Kanpaku of Japan ordered the leader Date to appear before him and Masamune thought that he would execute him for his disobedience. And in one more act of rebellion, he appeared dressed in his best armor and his characteristic helmet with a crescent figure.

The young strong Masamune faced the Kanpaku and without any fear stared at him; Hideyoshi, could recognize in him certain qualities that could serve him in the future and let him live.

In 1591, under Hideyoshi’s domain he received Iwatesawa Castle, which he rebuilt shortly after and named it Iwadeyama Castle, and later settled there.

Hideyoshi sent Masamune and his army during the Japanese invasions to Korea and after several defeats he returned alive.

At the death of Hideyoshi, Masamune owed no more loyalty to the clan and changed his army to the side of the Tokugawa, with Tokugawa Leyasu leading.

ADULT AGE OF DATE MASAMUNE

Masamune consolidated his relationship with the Tokugawa, marrying one of his daughters with a son of Tokugawa Leyasu.

With 33 years of age, and after keep conquering triumphs on the battlefield, Date Masamune was established as one of the toughest, rebellious, stubborn, intelligent and brave samurais in Japan.

Because of his fierceness in the battle of Sekigahara, Leyasu granted him Sendai and a few years later, Sendai was already a competent, productive and very active city. He is remembered as the founder of Sendai.

THE JOURNEY OF DATE MASAMUNE

He showed his adventurous side when he ordered the construction of the ship called San Juan Bautista, it is said that Masamune converted to Christianity.

It is even known that he gave two katanas to Pope Pablo V, on a Japanese expedition that sought to establish a trade route.

Their feat allowed them to be the first Japanese to cross the Atlantic Ocean, passing through Rome, the Philippines, Mexico and Spain, and it is estimated that it took them about seven years to return.

But he didn’t expected that Leyasu ban Christianity and even persecute Christians in their own lands, but could not object to anything.

DATE MASAMUNE  A GREAT SAMURAI

When he was 47 years old, Leyasu asked for his help once again to end the Hideyoshi heir, who was sheltering in Osaka Castle.

And they talk about their great participation, with intelligence and fury towards the opponents, where on the other side the castle was guarded by another great samurai Sanada Yukimura. Despite all the efforts of supporters with the Toyotomi clan, the Tokugawa clan won.

Finally, in 1616 Tokugawa Leyasu died and it is said that Date Masamune attended to read him poetry during his deathbed.

Date Masamune died in 1636, at the age of 69, being remembered for his great wisdom in leading armies, as an exceptional samurai who handled the katana skillfully and a fair daimyo.


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