Shibata Katsuie (1522- June 14, 1583)
Shibata Katsuie, also known as Gonroku, was born in Kamiyashiro village, Owari. (currently Meito-Ku, Nagoya City.) He originally served under Oda Nobunaga’s younger brother, Oda Nobukatsu, and was part of Nobukatsu’s plan to overthrow his brother. Katsuie led the charge against Nobunaga, but was defeated in the 1556 Battle of Ino. Nobunaga had his younger brother executed, but spared Katsuie. Despite this previous opposition to Nobunaga, Katsuie became a commander under Nobunaga, and a very brave and loyal commander he was too.
Katsuie fought at Nagashino
Distinguishing himself with number of masterful victories, including having fought his way out of the besieged Chokoji Castle during the Battle of Anegawa in 1570, where his troops were surrounded by over 4,000 Rokkaku samurai. Shibata Katsuie is said to have smashed the remaining ceramic water urns in an effort to have his men realize theat retreating back into the castle was not an option. Following this, Katsuie was ordered to establish himself in Echizen Province (Modern day Fukui Prefecture). Katsui built Kitanosho Castle, with a 9 story keep, the biggest in Japan at the time! When Nobunaga was killed at the Honnoji in Kyoto, Katsue was involved in a battle with the forces of Uesugi Kenshin, and the siege of Matsukura, and so was unable extricate himself in time to join the hunt for Akechi Mitsuhide, Nobunaga’s killer.
The Battle of Shizugatake
Following Nobunaga’s death, Katsuie supported Oda Nobutaka, Nobunaga’s 3rd son as heir, against Hideyoshi’s choice, Samboshi.
At the time of the Battle of Shizugatake, Katsuie was embroiled in the ongoing war with both the Uesugi and with nature, being snowed in. This limited his mobility, and as his allies succumbed to Hideyoshi’s armies, Katsuie too found himself fleeing back to Kitanosho, with Hideyoshi fast on his heels.
With Katsuie facing defeat, and surrounded by Hideyoshi’s forces, he ordered his daughters and wife, Oichi, (incidentally, Nobunaga’s sister!) to leave the castle and seek the protection of Hideyoshi. Oichi refused, and husband and wife killed themselves, committing seppuku, and their bodies consumed in a great fire started by Katsuie that destroyed Kitanosho Castle.