Date Clan T-Shirt
The Date clan (伊達氏, Date-shi?) was a lineage of daimyo who controlled northern Japan (the Tōhoku region) in the late 16th century and into the Edo period. Their most famous member was Date Masamune, who established the family's power by avenging his father's death and through support of Tokugawa Ieyasu.-----------The Date are a branch of the Fujiwara clan. The Date family was founded in the early Kamakura period (1185-1333) by Isa Tomomune who originally came from the Isa district of Hitachi Province (now Ibaraki Prefecture), and was a descendant of Fujiwara no Uona (721-783) in the 16th generation. The family took its name from the Date district (now Fukushima Prefecture) of Mutsu Province which had been awarded in 1189 to Isa Tomomune by Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first Kamakura shogun, for his assistance in the Genpei War and in Minamoto no Yoritomo’s struggle for power with his brother, Minamoto no Yoshitsune. --------------------- During the Nanboku-cho Wars in the 1330s, the Date supported the Imperial Southern Court of Emperor Go-Daigo through Kitabatake Akiie, who had been appointed by the Emperor Chinjufu Shōgun or Commander in Chief of the Defense of the North. ------------------- As warlords gained and lost power in the Sengoku period, trying to unite the country, the Date, along with a handful of other powerful families, did all they could to retain independence and dominance over their section of the land (in the case of the Date, the far north). Though not gaining the fame or power of the likes of Oda Nobunaga, Uesugi Kenshin, or Toyotomi Hideyoshi, they resisted the invasions of these warlords into the north. Date Masamune contributed in particular to this effort, consolidating the families of the north into alliances against the major warlords, and ultimately gaining some degree of independence by supporting Tokugawa Ieyasu. Tokugawa granted Date much of the north as his fief in return for his support. Despite Date having sent reinforcements to Tokugawa during the battle of Sekigahara, Tokugawa still saw Date as a threat, one of the most powerful of the tozama, or 'outside', daimyo, and made efforts to prevent him from gaining any further power. --------------- In 1600, after Date Masamune contributed to the defeat of the Uesugi family, he was granted the Uesugi lands in Mutsu Province, and made his home castle at Iwatezawa, which he then renamed Sendai. By 1658, this fief was worth 620,000 koku, and a succession dispute erupted; there were a number of direct descendants of Masamune, and many kinsmen and hereditary vassals of the Date who resided nearby held estates of at least 10,000 koku, and thus had some influence. In 1660, Date Tsunamune was arrested in Edo, for drunkenness and debauchery; the charges were generally believed to have been true, but the arrest was probably encouraged heavily by certain vassals and kinsmen in the north. These vassals and kinsmen appealed to the Council of Elders in Edo that Tsunamune should not be considered fit to rule, and that his son Date Tsunamura, great-grandson of Masamune, should become the daimyo(lord) of the Date han (fief). Thus, Tsunamura became daimyo, under the guardianship of his uncles, Date Munekatsu and Muneyoshi. --------------------- Ten years of violence and conflict followed in the north, reaching a climax in 1671 when Aki Muneshige, a powerful relative of the Date, complained to the shogunate of the mismanagement of the fief under Tsunamura and his uncles. The episode that followed is so complex and dramatic as to warrant becoming a well-known story known as the Date Sōdō (Date Disturbance) and a theatrical play as well. --------------------- Aki was summoned to Edo to argue his case before various councils and officials, and was involved in a number of interrogations, examinations and meetings, as were several other retainers of the Date. One retainer in particular, Harada Kai Munesuke, was a supporter of Tsunamura and his uncles and, it is said, made a poor impression at Edo. At one point, Aki came upon Harada waiting to meet with some of the officials, and Aki began shouting insults. Swords were then drawn, and Aki was killed. Harada was killed moments after, by the officials or their guards. The official verdict was that Harada drew first; the Harada family was disbanded and though Tsunamura was affirmed as the proper daimyo, his uncles were punished. ------------------- Though the Date are most well-known for their power in the north, Date Hidemune, the second son of Masamune, enjoyed a fief of 100,000 koku on Shikoku.