Discovery: Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s 33 Decrees Issued Prior to Unification
Despite his birth into a family of farmers, Hideyoshi Toyotomi is well-known for his rapid rise through the ranks to become one of the unifying forces of historical Japan. Following the discovery of 33 of this famed general’s edicts, the city of Tatsuno in Hyogo Prefecture has announced the completion of the restoration and analysis of these historical documents. The written orders come from a time before Hideyoshi had brought the entire country under his rule, giving them unprecedented historical value as a collection of primary resources from this period. They’re expected to become highly important reference materials for future scholars.
Spanning a complete decade starting from 1584 (two years after the death of Nobunaga at the Honnō-ji incident in 1582) the historical edicts overlap with the period in which Hideyoshi consolidated his power in Japan.
The majority of the documents’ contents are reprimands like “What is this lack of vigilance? It’s a complete outrage” and “There can be no forgiveness for harboring those who have defied Hideyoshi. Punishment will be harsh.” However, there are detailed strategic directives included in the edicts, as well. Behind all this we can see the outline of Hideyoshi’s detail-oriented personality.
The addressee for these missives was a vassal of the general named Wakizaka Yasuharu, and regardless of how often he may have been scolded by his liege, his intimate relationship with Hideyoshi is evident.
*Wakizaka Yasuharu was a key figure of the Hideyoshi government, famed as one of the Seven Spears who fought alongside the general when he crushed Shibata Katsuie of the Oda clan at the Battle of Shizugatake.
Reading these ancient documents, you can appreciate the ferocious vitality that filled Hideyoshi. There is absolutely no doubt that these will become precious and important resources speaking to us of historical Japan.