May 2, 2011
Few battles in Japanese history are as hyped or misunderstood as the Battle of Nagashino. For over 400 years, an iconic image of the modern forces of Oda Nobunaga, using Western guns to destroy the traditional Takeda cavalry, held sway over interpretations by both Japanese and Western historians.
The Battle of Nagashino took place on 29 June, 1575. The campaign occurred in Mikawa province, in the vicinity of Nagashino Castle, hence the name. However, the main engagement that came to be known as the Battle of Nagashino took place at Shitaragahara, approximately three kilometers from Nagashino Castle.
The main forces were the Takeda, led by Takeda Katsuyori, on one side, and a partnership between Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu on the other. The Takeda were centered in Kai province, and controlled parts of Shinano, Totomi, and Suruga provinces. The Tokugawa directly bordered them in Mikawa and Totomi provinces to the south and west; they were the junior partner in an alliance with the Oda, who controlled most of central Japan from his headquarters in Mino at Gifu Castle. This included control of the Imperial capital, Kyōto.
The Takeda besieged the Tokugawa castle of Nagashino. A relief force composed of the combined armies of the Tokugawa clan and the Oda clan arrived and deployed on the Shitaragahara field. Despite being heavily outnumbered, Takeda Katsuyori decided to attack. This decision proved disastrous, as the Takeda charges were repulsed by the combined Oda and Tokugawa forces making significant use of arquebus fire from behind loosely constructed palisades. The Takeda retreated, and lost two-thirds of their force in the battle.
The Takeda ceased to be a player on the national stage, and were eventually destroyed by Nobunaga and Ieyasu in 1582. The removal of the Takeda threat enabled Oda Nobunaga to concentrate on other threats to his consolidation of power around the Imperial capital of Kyoto. This sequence of events is universally accepted as fact, and is used by Western historians to support the "Military Revolution" theory - that gunpowder was the driving force of change and modernization in the world.
This podcast is part one of two on the battle of Nagashino. Your hosts are Chris, Travis and Nate. Nate is currently researching the battle for graduate school, and is the facilitator of the podcast. We'll take you through the biases in the sources, the "accepted" history of the battle of Nagashino, and where this all fits in the context of the Military Revolution theory.
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Mentioned in this podcast:
The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500-1800 By Geoffrey Parker, Cambridge University Press http://amzn.to/lmlBxU
Baxter, James C. and Joshua A. Fogel, ed. Paul Varley Oda Nobunaga, Guns, and Early Modern Warfare Writing Histories In Japan. International Research Center for Japanese Studies Kyoto 2007 http://bit.ly/mLNUtu
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