In the anime, Nobunaga makes a cameo appearance during the flashback of episode 1 as he leads the surprise attack on Tsubagakure, having plotted with the Kouga. His appearance is similar to his depictions in the Onimusha and Samurai Warriors video game series with thin features, ghostly white skin, elegantly groomed mustache and goatee, and a western-style cape draped over his shoulders.
Nobunaga, like many other characters who appear in Basilisk, was a real warlord in the Sengoku Era of Japan. In Basilisk Nobunaga is only mentioned for his assault on the Iga which occurred in 1581 and was due to him seeing the ninja as a threat. However, Nobunaga accomplished much more in his lifetime and is one of the most widely recognised samurai of the era.
Unification of Owari ProvinceEdit
In 1551, Nobuhide Oda died unexpectedly and, during his funeral, Nobunaga was said to have acted outrageously, throwing the ceremonial incense at the altar. This act alienated many Oda retainers, convincing them of Nobunaga's mediocrity and lack of discipline and they began to side with his more soft-spoken and well-mannered brother, Nobuyuki. Masahide Hirate, who was a valuable mentor and retainer to Nobunaga, was ashamed by Nobunaga's behavior and performed seppuku. This had a huge effect on Nobunaga, who later built a temple to honor Masahide.
Though Nobunaga was Nobuhide's legitimate successor, the Oda clan was divided into many factions. Furthermore, the entire clan was technically under the control of Owari's shugo, Shiba Yoshimune. Thus, Nobutomo Oda, as the brother to the deceased Nobuhide and deputy of Owari Province's shugo (who used the powerless Yoshimune as his puppet), was able to challenge Nobunaga's place as Owari Provinces's new ruler. Nobutomo murdered Yoshimune when it was discovered that he supported and attempted to aid Nobunaga.
To increase his power, Nobunaga persuaded Nobumitsu Oda, a younger brother of Nobuhide, to join his side and, with Nobumitsu's help, slew Nobutomo in Kiyosu Castle, which later became Nobunaga's place of residence for over ten years. Taking advantage of the position of Shiba Yoshikane, Yoshimune's son, as the rightful shugo, Nobunaga forged an alliance with the Imagawa clan of Suruga Province and the Kira clan of Mikawa Province, as both clans had the same shugo and would have no excuse to decline. Additionally, this also ensured that the Imagawa clan would have to stop attacking Owari's borders.
Even though Nobuyuki and his supporters were still at large, Nobunaga decided to bring an army to Mino Province to aid Dōsan Saitō after Dōsan's son, Saitō Yoshitatsu, turned against him. The campaign failed, however, as Dōsan was killed and Yoshitatsu became the new master of Mino in 1556.
A few months later, Nobuyuki, with the support of Katsuie Shibata and Hidesada Hayashi, rebelled against Nobunaga. The three conspirators were defeated at the Battle of Inō, but they were pardoned after the intervention of Gozen Tsuchida, the birth mother of both Nobunaga and Nobuyuki. The next year, however, Nobuyuki again planned to rebel. When Nobunaga was informed of this by Katsuie Shibata, he faked illness to get close to Nobuyuki and assassinated him in Kiyosu Castle.
By 1559, Nobunaga had eliminated all opposition within the clan and throughout Owari Province. He continued to use Yoshikane Shiba as an excuse to make peace with other daimyo, although it was later discovered that Yoshikane had secretly corresponded with the Kira and Imagawa clans, trying to oust Nobunaga and restore the Shiba clan's place. Nobunaga eventually cast him out, making alliances created in the Shiba clan's name void.
Battle of OkehazamaEdit
In 1560, Yoshimoto Imagawa gathered an army of 25,000 men and started his march toward Kyoto, with the excuse of aiding the frail Ashikaga shogunate. The Matsudaira clan of Mikawa Province was also to join Yoshimoto's forces. In comparison, the Oda clan could rally an army of only 1,800, and the forces would also have to be split up to defend various forts at the border. Under such dire circumstances, Nobunaga was said to have performed his favorite Atsumori dance, before riding off with only a few attendants to pray in a shrine.
The Oda clan's generals did not believe that they would win this impossible war. Only the night before, Katsuie Shibata had tried in vain to change Nobunaga's mind about a frontal attack; he kept reminding Nobunaga of the joint army's complete lack of manpower compared to the Imagawa soldiers, who, according to rumors, numbered 40,000 men. Hayashi Sado no Kami Hidesada, the remaining advisor from Nobuhide's days, even argued for surrender without fighting, using the same reasoning as Katsuie. Nobunaga then gave a large speech in which he said that Yoshimoto had less soldiers than he claimed and that he had no plans to call off the attack.
Nobunaga was right; Yoshimoto deliberately leaked the highly exaggerated number of his soldiers out to scare the Oda clan, and the official chronicler of the Imagawas put it down as was usual in medieval battle records to exaggerate numbers.
Nobunaga's scouts reported that Yoshimoto was resting his troops at a place called Dengaku-hazama, near a little village named Okehazama. It was countryside that Nobunaga knew well. Dengaku-hazama was a narrow gorge, an ideal place for a surprise attack if the conditions were right. The scouts added that the Imagawa army were celebrating their victories with food and drink while Yoshimoto viewed the heads. So Nobunaga moved up towards Imagawa's camp, and set up a position some distance away. An array of flags and dummy troops made of straw and spare helmets gave the impression of a large host, while the real Oda army hurried round in a rapid march to get behind Yoshimoto's camp. Fortune, and the weather, favoured Nobunaga, for about mid-day the stifling heat gave way to a terrific thunderstorm. As the Imagawa samurai sheltered from the rain Nobunaga deployed his troops, and when the storm ceased they charged down upon the enemy in the gorge. So sudden was the attack that Yoshimoto thought a brawl had broken out among his men. He realized it was an attack when two samurai charged up. One aimed a spear at him, which Yoshimoto deflected with his sword, but the second swung his blade and cut off Imagawa's head.
Rapidly weakening, the Imagawa clan no longer exerted control over the Matsudaira clan. In 1561, an alliance was forged between Nobunaga Oda and Motoyasu Matsudaira (later Ieyasu Tokugawa), despite the decades-old hostility between the two clans. Tradition dates this battle as the time that Nobunaga first noticed the talents of the sandal bearer who would eventually become Hideyoshi Toyotomi.
In Mino, Yoshitatsu Saitō died suddenly of illness in 1561, and was succeeded by his son, Tatsuoki Saitō. Tatsuoki, however, was young and much less effective as a ruler and military strategist compared to his father and grandfather. Taking advantage of this situation, Nobunaga moved his base to Komaki Castle and started his campaign in Mino. By convincing Saitō retainers to abandon their incompetent and foolish master, Nobunaga weakened the Saitō clan significantly, eventually mounting a final attack in 1567. Nobunaga captured Inabayama Castle and sent Tatsuoki into exile.
After taking possession of the castle, Nobunaga changed the name of both the castle and the surrounding town to Gifu. Remains of Nobunaga's residence in Gifu can be found today in Gifu Park. Naming it after the legendary Mount Qi (岐山 Qi in Standard Mandarin) in China, on which the Zhou dynasty started, Nobunaga revealed his ambition to conquer the whole of Japan. He also started using a new personal seal that read Tenka Fubu (天下布武), which means "Spread the militarism over the whole land", or literally "... under the sky" (see all under heaven). In 1564, Nobunaga had his sister, Oichi, marry Nagamasa Azai, a daimyo in northern Ōmi Province. This would later help pave the way to Kyoto.
In 1568, Yoshiaki Ashikaga went to Gifu to ask Nobunaga to start a campaign toward Kyoto. Yoshiaki was the brother of the murdered thirteenth shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate, Yoshiteru, and wanted revenge against the killers who had already set up a puppet shogun, Ashikaga Yoshihide. Nobunaga agreed to install Yoshiaki as the new shogun and, grasping the opportunity to enter Kyoto, started his campaign. An obstacle in southern Ōmi Province, however, was the Rokkaku clan. Led by Yoshikata Rokkaku, the clan refused to recognize Yoshiaki as shogun and was ready to go to war. In response, Nobunaga launched a rapid attack, driving the Rokkaku clan out of their castles.
Within a short amount of time, Nobunaga had reached Kyoto and driven the Miyoshi clan out of the city. Yoshiaki was made the 15th shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate. Nobunaga refused the post of Kanrei and eventually began to restrict the powers of the shogun, making it clear that he intended to use him as a puppet to justify his future conquests. Yoshiaki, however, was not pleased about being a puppet and secretly corresponded with various daimyo, forging an anti-Nobunaga alliance.
The Asakura clan was particularly disdainful of the Oda clan's increasing power because, historically, the Oda clan had been subordinate to the Asakura clan. Furthermore, Asakura Yoshikage had also protected Yoshiaki Ashikaga, but had not been willing to march toward Kyoto. Thus, the Asakura clan also despised Nobunaga the most for his success.
When Nobunaga launched a campaign into the Asakura clan's domain, Nagamasa Azai, to whom Oichi was married, broke the alliance with Oda to honor the Azai-Asakura alliance which had lasted for generations. With the help of Ikko rebels, the anti-Nobunaga alliance sprang into full force, taking a heavy toll on the Oda clan. At the Battle of Anegawa, Tokugawa Ieyasu joined forces with Nobunaga and defeated the combined forces of the Asakura and Azai clans.
Nobunaga waged war even against Buddhists when they armed themselves and did not obey him. The Enryaku-ji monastery on Mt. Hiei, with its sōhei (warrior monks) of the Tendai school who aided the anti-Nobunaga group by helping Azai-Asakura alliance, was a particular thorn in Nobunaga's side, residing as it did so close to his residence in Kyoto. Nobunaga attacked Enryaku-ji and burnt it to the ground in 1571, even though it had been admired as a significant cultural symbol at the time, and killed between 3,000 and 4,000 men, women and children in the process.
Through the years, Nobunaga was able to further consolidate his position and conquer his enemies through brutality. In Nagashima, for example, Nobunaga suffered tremendous losses to the Ikko resistance who was led by anti-nobunaga alliance member Ishiyama Hongan-ji, including the death of a couple of his brothers. When Nobunaga finally surrounded the enemy complex, he set fire to it, again killing tens of thousands of non-combatants, including women and children.
One of the strongest rulers in the anti-Nobunaga alliance was Shingen Takeda, in spite of his generally peaceful relationship and a nominal alliance with the Oda clan. In 1572, at the urgings of the shogun, Shingen decided to make a drive for the capital starting with invading Tokugawa's territory. Tied down on the Western front, Nobunaga sent lackluster aid to Ieyasu, who suffered defeat at the Battle of Mikatagahara in 1573. However, after the battle, the Takeda forces retreated after Shingen died of illness in 1573. This was a relief for Nobunaga because he could now focus on Yoshiaki, who had openly declared hostility more than once, despite the imperial court's intervention. Nobunaga was able to defeat Yoshiaki's weak forces and send him into exile, bringing the Ashikaga shogunate to an end in the same year.
Also in 1573, Nobunaga successfully destroyed the Asakura and Azai clans, leading Nagamasa Azai to send Oichi back to Nobunaga and commit suicide. With Nagashima's destruction in 1574, the only threat to Nobunaga was the Takeda clan, now led by Katsuyori Takeda.
At the decisive Battle of Nagashino, the combined forces of Nobunaga and Ieyasu Tokugawa devastated the Takeda clan with the strategic use of arquebuses. Nobunaga compensated for the arquebus' slow reloading time by arranging the arquebusiers in three lines. After each line fired, it would duck and reload as the next line fired. The bullets were able to pierce the Takeda cavalry armor, causing chaos among the Takeda cavalry, who were pushed back and killed by incoming fire. From there, Nobunaga continued his expansion, sending Katsuie Shibata and Toshiie Maeda to the north and Mitsuhide Akechi to Tamba Province.
The Oda clan's siege of Ishiyama Hongan-ji in Osaka made some progress, but the Mori clan of the Chūgoku region broke the naval blockade and started sending supplies into the strongly-fortified complex by sea. As a result, in 1577, Hideyoshi Hashiba was ordered to expand west to confront the Mori clan.
However, Kenshin Uesugi, said to be the greatest general of his time since the demise of Shingen Takeda, took part in the second anti-Nobunaga alliance. Following his conquest of neighboring forces, the two sides clashed during the Battle of Tedorigawa which resulted in a decisive Uesugi victory. It was around this time that Uesugi forces began preparations to march on Kyoto.
Due to his defeat, Nobunaga's expansion in Noto, Kaga, and Etchū Province area was stagnant for a while. But Kenshin, who prepared to move his armies again after the battle, died from possibly Cerebral hemorrhage before moving them. According to later study, this preparation was not against Nobunaga but for attacking Kanto area, but anyway, after his death and confusion among his successors, Nobunaga started his campaign on this area again.
Nobunaga forced the Ishiyama Hongan-ji to surrender in 1580 and destroyed the Takeda clan in 1582. Nobunaga's administration was at its height of power and he was about to launch invasions into Echigo Province and Shikoku.
Incident at Honnō-jiEdit
In 1582, his former sandal bearer Hideyoshi Hashiba invaded Bitchu Province, laying siege to Takamatsu Castle. However, the castle was vital to the Mori clan, and losing it would leave the Mori home domain vulnerable. Led by Terumoto Mori, reinforcements arrived outside Takamatsu Castle, and the two sides came to a standstill. Hashiba asked for reinforcements from Nobunaga.
It has often been argued that Hideyoshi had no need for reinforcements, but asked Nobunaga anyway for various reasons. Some believe that Hideyoshi, envied and hated by fellow generals for his swift rise from a lowly footman to a top general under Nobunaga Oda, wanted to give the credit for taking Takamatsu to Nobunaga so as to humble himself in front of other Oda vassals. Some also speculate that Hashiba or his retainers wanted to put Nobunaga in a vulnerable position in the front where he might be more easily assassinated. Others believe that Hashiba was the mastermind behind Mitsuhide Akechi's treachery.
In any case, Nobunaga ordered Nagahide Niwa to prepare for an invasion of Shikoku, and Mitsuhide Akechi to assist Hideyoshi. En route to Chūgoku region, Nobunaga stayed at Honnō-ji, a temple in Kyoto. Since Nobunaga would not expect an attack in the middle of his firmly-controlled territories, he was guarded by only a few dozen personal servants and bodyguards.
Nevertheless, Mitsuhide suddenly had Honnō-ji surrounded in a coup d'état, forcing Nobunaga to fight him. Nobunaga lost and was forced to commit seppuku. At the same time, Akechi forces assaulted Nijō Castle. Together with him died his young page (o-kosho), Ranmaru Mori, who had served him faithfully for many years and was still in his teens at the time. Ranmaru's loyalty and devotion to his lord were widely known and praised at the time.
Just eleven days after the coup at Honnō-ji, Mitsuhide was killed at the Battle of Yamazaki and his army was defeated by Hideyoshi, who eventually was made the rightful heir to Nobunaga's legacy.
Depending upon the source, Nobunaga Oda and the entire Oda clan are descendents of either the Fujiwara clan or the Taira clan (specifically, Taira no Shigemori's branch). His lineage can be directly traced to his great-great-grandfater, Hisanaga Oda, who was followed by Toshisada Oda, Nobusada Oda, Nobuhide Oda and Nobunaga himself.
Nobunaga was the eldest legitimate son of Nobuhide, a minor warlord from Owari province, and Tsuchida Gozen, who was also the mother to three of his brothers (Nobuyuki, Nobukane and Hidetaka) and two of his sisters (Oinu and Oichi). His brothers are listed as follows:
- Nobuhiro Oda (an illegitimate older brother)
- Nobuyuki Oda
- Nobukane Oda
- Nobuharu Oda
- Nobutoki Oda
- Nobuoki Oda
- Hidetaka Oda
- Hidenari Oda
- Nobuteru Oda
- Nagamasu Oda
- Nagatoshi Oda
Nobunaga married Nōhime, the daughter of Saitō Dōsan, as a matter of political strategy; however, she bore him no children and was considered to be barren. It was his concubines Kitsuno and Lady Saka who bore him his children. It was Kitsuno who gave birth to Nobunaga's eldest son, Nobutada. Nobutada's son, Hidenobu Oda, became ruler of the Oda clan after the deaths of Nobunaga and Nobutada.
- Nobutada Oda (1557–1582)
- Nobukatsu Oda (1558–1630)
- Nobutaka Oda (1558–1583)
- Hidekatsu Hashiba (1567–1585)
- Katsunaga Oda (died 1582)
- Nobuhide Oda (1571–1596)
- Nobutaka Oda (1576–1602)
- Nobuyoshi Oda (1573–1615)
- Nobusada Oda (1574–1624)
- Nobuyoshi Oda (died 1609)
- Nagatsugu Oda (died 1600)
- Nobumasa Oda (1554–1647, illegitimate child)
- Tokuhime (1559–1636), married Matsudaira Nobuyasu
- Fuyuhime (1561–1641), married Gamō Ujisato
- Hideko (died 1632), married Tsutsui Sadatsugu
- Eihime (1574–1623), married Maeda Toshinaga
- Hōonin, married Niwa Nagashige
- Sannomarudono (died 1603), concubine to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, married Nijō Akizane
- Tsuruhime, married Nakagawa Hidemasa