Yonezawa Domain (1/2)Ruled by the Date and Uesugi clans.

Yonezawa domain

Uesugi family crest “Uesugi Sasa”

Article category
History of the domain
domain name
Yonezawa Domain (1601-1871)
Yamagata Prefecture
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Yonezawa Castle

Yonezawa Castle

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The Yonezawa domain is the most well-known domain in Tohoku, and was ruled by feudal lords who often appear in historical dramas, such as the Date clan and the Uesugi clan. During the Edo period, it was not uncommon for the daimyo who ruled a domain to change every few years, but the Yonezawa domain was consistently ruled by the Uesugi clan.
Here, let's unravel the history of the Uesugi clan.

Reign of Yonezawa during the Sengoku period

From the mid-Muromachi period to the end of the Sengoku period, the Date clan ruled Yonezawa. The Date family began to rule Yonezawa quite early, in 1548, but after that there were several family disturbances, including the Tenbun War, which delayed the expansion of their influence outside of Yonezawa. . It wasn't until Date Masamune became the 17th lord of the Date clan in 1584 that the Date family finally began to expand its influence beyond Yonezawa. Date Masamune rapidly expanded his power and conquered powerful feudal lords in Oshu one after another, including the Nihonmatsu Hatakeyama family, the Ashina family, and the Soma family. In 1589, he won a landslide victory over the Ashina family at the Battle of Suriuehara, captured Kurokawa Castle (Wakamatsu Castle) and made it his home base, and also destroyed the Nikaido family, Ishiguro family, Iwashiro family, and others, becoming the ruler of Oshu. I did.
However, in the Odawara conquest in 1590, Date Masamune became a vassal to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and his territory was drastically reduced. Furthermore, Kurokawa Castle was surrendered to Ujisato Gamo, allowing Toyotomi Hideyoshi to detect it. Toyotomi Hideyoshi's detection was strict, and peasant uprisings broke out in various parts of Oshu in reaction to it. Date Masamune cooperated with Gamo Ujisato to pacify the situation, but Toyotomi Hideyoshi decided that it was Date Masamune who had instigated the outbreak, and even accused Date of assassinating Gamo Ujisato. The family's territory was confiscated. As a result, the Date family only controlled the territories of Osaki and Kasai, and control of Yonezawa was left to the Gamo clan.
However, when Ujisato Gamo died, his eldest son Hideyuki Gamo succeeded him at the age of 13. The country could not be unified with a young lord, leading to quarrels among senior vassals, and as a result, the Gamo clan's koku was reduced to 180,000 koku, and Aizu was ruled by Kagekatsu Uesugi, who had been transferred from Echigo.
Yonezawa Castle was ruled by Naoe Kanetsugu, a senior vassal of Uesugi Kagekatsu.

Yonezawa domain in the Edo period

After the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Battle of Sekigahara occurred in 1600, and Uesugi Kagekatsu joined the Western army. The ``Naoe letter'' sent by Naoe Kanetsugu to Tokugawa Ieyasu at this time is still famous today. In the Battle of Sekigahara, the eastern army led by Tokugawa Ieyasu won an overwhelming victory, and the defeated Uesugi Kagekatsu sent his senior vassals Honjo Shigenaga and Naoe Kanetsugu to Fushimi Castle to apologize directly to Ieyasu. As a result, the Uesugi family was allowed to continue, but 900,000 koku of their holdings, including Aizu, were confiscated, leaving only 300,000 koku of Dewa Yonezawa in their possession. With this decision, the Uesugi family's control system of the Yonezawa domain was established. At this time, Yonezawa was largely unpopulated by the castle lord, Kanetsugu Naoe, and the castle town was said to be small, with a population of only a few hundred people. Despite this, thousands of vassals, merchants, townspeople, and craftsmen, including the feudal lord Kagekatsu Uesugi, entered the castle town of Yonezawa, causing great chaos in the town. Although the castle was renovated, there was not enough room to accommodate all the vassals, so Kagekatsu Uesugi built a town on the outskirts of the castle town for lower-ranking retainers.

In this way, Kagekatsu Uesugi and Kanetsugu Naoe worked hard to rebuild Yonezawa Castle, improve the castle town, and organize the domain's administration. Kanetsugu Naoe died in 1619, and four years later, Kagekatsu Uesugi died in 1619, and Sadakatsu Uesugi succeeded him.

Crisis of disconnection and reduction in stone price

There was no major turmoil during the reign of the second lord, Sadakatsu Uesugi, and his son, Tsunakatsu Uesugi. Sadakatsu Uesugi conducted land surveys and established the annual tax system, and also regulated the administration of the domain by cracking down on Christians and ensuring that his vassals were frugal and frugal. There was a great fire in the Yonezawa castle town and a famine in 1642, but these were not enough to shake up the feudal government. However, when Tsunakatsu Uesugi suddenly died at the young age of 26 without leaving any sons, the Uesugi family faced a crisis of extinction. Fortunately, with the help of Masayuki Hoshina, the lord of the Aizu domain, who was the father of Uesugi Amikatsu's legal wife, we were able to adopt two-year-old Uesugi Tsunanori, who was born to Amikatsu's sister Tomiko and Takaie Yoshio Kira, at the end of his life. I did. As a result, the Uesugi family was spared from extinction, but as punishment, the Shogunate reduced the amount of 120,000 koku in Shinobu and Date counties, and 30,000 koku in Yashiro-go (present-day Takahata Town, Yamagata Prefecture). In other words, the stone height has been halved.

Furthermore, the Kira family that Uesugi Tsunenori's birth mother, Tomiko, married into is the same family that belonged to Kira Uenosuke, who was defeated by Kuranosuke Oishi and others during the Ako Ronin raid. The raid of the Ako Ronin occurred when Tsunanori Uesugi was 41 years old, and after that he took his mother Tomiko to Uesugi. In addition, Uesugi Tsunenori instituted a cultural policy that promoted academics, controlled public customs, established official positions, and compiled history, but as a result of this, finances became tight. In addition, he often provided aid to the Kira family, where he was born, and this is said to have also contributed to the financial strain on the Uesugi family. Tsunanori passed away in 1704, but by that time the Yonezawa clan's finances were in severe strain.

Yoshinori Uesugi, who was born as an illegitimate child, succeeded Tsunanori Uesugi. Immediately after becoming the lord of the domain, he was ordered by the Edo shogunate to carry out construction work, which placed him under a heavy burden. As a result, the domain's finances became increasingly difficult, and eventually the cost of sankin kotai became unaffordable. Tsunanori Uesugi died at the age of 39, and his successor, Munenori Uesugi, also died at the young age of 22. Since Munenori Uesugi had no heir, his younger brother Munefusa Uesugi became the new lord, but he also died at the young age of 29. Meanwhile, the domain's finances continue to decline, and time passes without any effective measures being taken. In addition, the unpaid annual tax was becoming a serious problem.
Uesugi Shigesada, who succeeded Uesugi Munefusa, was the son of Uesugi Yoshinori and the younger brother of Uesugi Munenori and Uesugi Munefusa. Although Shigesada Uesugi lived a long life, his vassals were destroyed due to riots among his vassals and poor harvests that impoverished the people of his territory. The administration of the domain became increasingly poor, but it is said that Shigesada Uesugi did not implement any bad policies and left politics entirely to his vassals. Shigesada Uesugi retired in 1767 due to illness, but even after his retirement, he continued to damage the domain's finances by rebuilding his residence multiple times.

Reign of Harunori Uesugi

Shigesada Uesugi was succeeded by Harunori Uesugi (Takayama), who is famous as the founder of the Uesugi clan. When he took over as head of the family in 1767, he had 200,000 ryo of debt (approximately 15 to 20 billion ryo in today's money), a koku of 150,000 koku, and 6,000 vassals. It was in a state of financial collapse.

The article on Yonezawa Domain continues.

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Writer(Writer)I am a writer who loves history, focusing on the Edo period. My hobbies are visiting historical sites, temples and shrines, and reading historical novels. If there is a place you are interested in, you can fly anywhere. I'm secretly happy that the number of sword exhibitions has increased recently thanks to the success of Touken Ranbu.
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