Born the third son of Motonari Mori (1532); adopted into the Kobayakawa family to cement their alliance with the Mori in opposition to the Suo; during the Ouchi house wars Takekage distinguished himself and contributed to the victory of the Mori and their allies over the Suo (1551-1558); later fought with distinction in the defensive campaigns against Nobunaga Oda
and Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1578-1582); submitted to Hideyoshi (1582); joined forces with Hideyoshi to subdue the powerful Shimazu clan on Kyushu (1587); led a contingent of 15,000 men during the first Korean campaign (May 1592-October 1593); returned to Japan and died soon after (1596).
Shrewd, tenacious, and patient, Ieyasu outlasted his allies and enemies to establish the greatest of Japan's feudal regimes, lasting from 1603 to 1868; he commanded respect and loyalty from his subordinates; he showed political skill in threading his way through the uncertainties of feudal politics in a time of upheaval; certainly one of Japan's great generals, and with Nobunaga Oda
and Hideyoshi Toyotomi, one of the three great figures of the unification of Japan.
Perhaps the most remarkable figure of Japanese history, he certainly shares with Nobunaga Oda
and Ieyasu Tokugawa a preeminent position in sixteenth-century Japan; his rise from peasant to de facto ruler of Japan would have been remarkable in any premodern culture, and was even more so in the rigidly stratified society of medieval Japan; a small man whose visage was frequently likened to that of a monkey, Hideyoshi was clever, determined, and willful; a superior tactician, he was also a cunning politician, and a man of tremendous energy; he was a patron of the arts, and fostered the artistic and architectural style known as Azuchi-Momoyama (1573-1603); during his later years, his unstable mental state led him to acts that were both unwise and cruel.