Maeda Hidemochi (前田秀以)

Hidemochi MAEDA was a Japanese military commander who lived during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. He was also a Christian military commander.

He was born as the first son of Geni MAEDA, who was a vassal of Nobunaga ODA, in 1576. He began to serve Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI at the same time that his father began to serve Hideyoshi, and he was given the family name of Hashiba. His father frequently suppressed or protected Christians because he was the Kyoto shoshidai (deputy), and consequently, he became a Christian affected by this, and he was christened and given the Christian name of Paul in 1595.

When Hideyoshi ordered to suppress Christians in 1596, his father Geni unwillingly accepted that order and suppressed Christians who lived in the Kinai region (provinces surrounding Kyoto and Nara) in order to follow Hideyoshi. It is said, however, that Hidemochi secretly gave shelter to those Christians. Also, some people think that he succeeded his father as the head of the family, but this story is highly unlikely because his father Geni was involved in the Toyotomi government as one of the Gobugyo (Five Major Magistrates) just before Hideyoshi passed away.

His father Geni was afraid that the Maeda family might be deprived of their status because his eldest son was a Christian, so he told Hidemochi to renounce his faith in Christ. However, Hidemochi refused this, and moreover, he gave the right to become the next head of the family to his younger brother Shigekatsu and left the Maeda family. One opinion has it that his action made his father Geni angry, so that he was disowned.

He died at the age of 26 on December 30, 1601, before his father. Some people think he was forced to commit suicide by order of his father, or he was even killed. He seems to have had a good relationship with his younger brother, Shigekatsu, who is believed to have given Hidemochi a Christian funeral.