Chiba Noritane (千葉孝胤)

Noritane CHIBA (1459? - September 29, 1521) was a busho (Japanese military commander) who lived from the middle of the Muromachi period through the beginning of the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States). He was the eldest son of Suketane CHIBA (also known as Suketane IWAHASHI). There are several opinions as to the year of his birth, with some saying he was born on May 30, 1443, or else in 1444.

Circumstances behind his becoming the head of the Chiba clan (self-proclaimed)

Prior to this, Tanefusa HARA absconded from the front line as he was attacked by Tsuneyori TO, who joined in the camp in November 1455, and Yasutane MAKUWARI and his son Tanemochi MAKUWARI were also defeated and killed, but Sanetane CHIBA, who was in the main branch of the Chiba clan, did not have sufficient influence to hold the command of Shimousa Province. Although Tsuneyori TO was deprived of his territory at Gujo in Mino Province by Myochin SAITO during the Onin War, he recovered it by sending 10 waka (a 31-syllable Japanese poem), and then he returned to Kyoto in April 1469 and did kokin-denju (the secret transmissions of the "Kokinshu," the Anthology of Old and New Japanese Poems) for the Japanese poet named Sogi in 1471.

Thus the Iwahashi clan (Suketane described himself as an illegitimate child of Yasutane MAKUWARI), who owned the area around Iwahashi Village, Into-sho (manor) (present-day Shisui Town, Inba District, Chiba Prefecture), claimed that they were the head of the Chiba clan. In addition, the Seii Taishogun (literally, "a great general who subdues the barbarians") Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA banished the Kamakura kubo (Governor-general of the Kanto region) Shigeuji ASHIKAGA from Kamakura because Shigeuji's behavior, including the premeditated murder of Noritada UESUGI, was too violent and rude to be overlooked, but since the shogun was not powerful enough to defeat him, Noritane attempted to increase his influence by supporting Shigeuji ASHIKAGA's side, which lineage has also been called the Chiba clan from that time onwards.

Noritane and the Kyotoku War

In about 1471, Noritane succeeded as head of the clan because his father Suketane became a Buddhist priest (it is also said that he first claimed to be the head of the Chiba clan on this occasion). In March 1471, the camp of the Koga kubo Shigeuji ASHIKAGA, including Noritane, marched toward Mishima in Izu Province, in order to defeat the Horigoe kubo Masatomo ASHIKAGA. Although Masatomo ASHIKAGA had only a small party of soldiers in the initial phase, he was able to rally the forces of the Yamanouchi-Uesugi family to his camp, and Noritane's side became totally destroyed because they were severely attacked even after they withdrew. In addition, the kasai (main retainer) of the Yamanouchi-Uesugi family named Kagenobu NAGAO captured Ashikaga-sho (manor) in Shimotsuke Province in April, and they finally surrendered Koga-jo Castle on July 21. This made Shigeuji ASHIKAGA stay in Noritane's territory because he had nowhere to go.

They recovered Koga-jo Castle in February 1472, and Shigeuji ASHIKAGA returned to Koga City. After that, Kageharu NAGAO, who was the eldest son of Kagenobu NAGAO, became enraged because his uncle named Kagetada NAGAO to take over the position of the kasai of the Yamanouchi-Uesugi family, and so he ran away to Hachigata-jo Castle in Musashi Province (present-day in Hachigata, Yorii Town) against Akisada UESUGI in 1476; furthermore, he took the side of Shigeuji ASHIKAGA. This situation led the conflict to gradually show signs of all-out confrontation, and Shigeuji ASHIKAGA, the Yamanouchi-Uesugi family, and the Ogigayatsu-Uesugi family felt misgivings about those circumstances so they started to negotiate for peace. Once the peace was established, however, Noritane was no longer able to declare himself the head of the Chiba clan, so he was against this peace negotiation together with Kageharu NAGAO, who repeatedly attempted to exact revenge on the Yamanouchi-Uesugi family throughout his life, and his nominal lord was still Shigeuji ASHIKAGA but he decided firmly to prevent Shigeuji from returning to the Koga Imperial Palace.

After the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), the Koga kubo, the Yamanouchi-Uesugi family, and the Ogigayatsu-Uesugi family agreed to the peace, Kageharu NAGAO and Noritane were the only rebellious group, and they were searched out and destroyed by Yoritane CHIBA, who was approved as the head of the Chiba clan by the bakufu and was backed up by Dokan OTA. Since they were soundly defeated at the Battle of Sakainehara on January 11, 1479, they retreated bringing their troops together and holed up in Usui-jo Castle (present-day in Usuita, Sakura City), but the castle fell to Yoritane's side on August 11, 1479 and Yoritane brought most of Shimousa and Kazusa Provinces under his control.

Although Noritane's actions at that time are not well known, it is said that he took advantage of the confusion of the fall of the castle to disappear and he returned to his father's base Iwahashi Village, Into-sho (present-day Shisui Town, Inba District, Chiba Prefecture). In recent years, however, people find more convincing the story that his base was Shinozuka-jo Castle (present-day in Sakura City), and it is believed that Noritane set this castle as his strategic point and fought against Yoritane. In addition, there was a deep-rooted movement to support Noritane among officers and men in Shimousa and Kazusa Provinces in fact, and Yoritane CHIBA, who could not gain their support, just put a daikan (local governor) in this area and he was not able to rule in the long term. It is believed that Yoritane CHIBA lost his political backup as the peace was concluded between the Muromachi bakufu and Shigeuji ASHIKAGA in 1482 and Dokan OTA was killed four years after that, and he eventually died in 1493 having lost control over Shimosa Province. From that time onward, the Musashi Chiba clan never invaded Shimousa Province, and it is widely thought that Noritane, who kept the policy that would support the Koga kubo, accordingly established the government of the Chiba territory in Shimousa.

Thus the Kyotoku War, which was triggered by the premeditated murder of Noritada UESUGI by Shigeuji ASHIKAGA, finally ended, but the sequence of disturbances which arose from the Onin War just moved on, and the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States) was dawning.

Noritane's later life

Thereafter Noritane built Motosakura-jo Castle (present-day in Shisui Town) and ruled Shimousa Province based at that castle. On March 22, 1492, he entered the priesthood because his father Suketane died, and his child Katsutane CHIBA succeeded as the head of the clan.