2. Chapter 2The Reunification Of Japan In The Sixteenth Century, The Jesuit Propaganda, And Hildeyoshi's Invasion Of Corea
By a curious-accident the discovery of America and the circumnavigation of the globe were largely due to Marco Polo's inaccurate account of Japan, which, as has been already mentioned, was, so far as we know, the first description of the Japanese Islands and people written in a European language. The passage below translated from Polo's travels, which were originally written in Latin, contains the information on which the Florentine cosmographer and astronomer, Toscanelli, constructed part of the map (now unfortunately lost) prepared by him for the Genoese navigator, Christopher Columbus. That map has been reconstructed from a letter of Toscanelli's to Columbus, and on p. 35 the reader will see a copy of the reconstruction. Although the passage from Polo's Travels is of considerable length, it is so important in the history of geography and of Japan that no apology is needed for quoting it in externa.
' Zipangu is an island in the eastern ocean, situated at the distance of about 1,500 miles from the main-land or coast of Manji. It is of considerable size ; its inhabitants have fair complexions, are well made, and are civilized in their manners. Their religion is the worship of idols. They are independent of every foreign power, and governed only by their own kings. They have gold in the greatest abundance, its sources being inexhaustible, but as the king does not allow of its being exported, few merchants visit the country, nor is it frequented hy much shipping from other parts. To this circumstance we are to attribute the extraordinary richness of the sovereign's palace, according to what we are told by those who have access to the place. The entire roof , is covered with a plating of gold, in the same manner as we cover houses, or more properly churches, with lead. The ceilings of the halls are of the same precious metal ; many of the apartments have small tables of pure gold, of considerable thickness ; and the wdndows also have golden ornaments. So vast, indeed, are the riches of the palace that it is impossible to convey an idea of them. In this island there are pearls also, in large quantities, of a pink colour, round in shape, and of great size, equal in value to, or even exceeding that of the white pearls. It is customary with one part of the inhabitants to bury their dead, and with another part to burn them. The former have a practice of putting one of these pearls into the mouth of the corpse. There are also found there a number of precious stones.
' Of so great celebrity was the wealth of this island, that a desire was excited in the breast of the grand khan Kublai, now reigning, to make the conquest of it, and to annex it to his dominions. In order to effect this, he fitted out a numerous fleet, and embarked a large body of troops, under the command of two of his principal officers, one of whom was named Abbacatan, and the other Vonsancin. The expedition sailed from the ports of Zai-tun and Kin-sai, and, crossing the intermediate sea, reached the island in safety ; but in consequence of a jealousy that arose between the two commanders, one of whom treated the plans of the other with contempt and resisted the execution of his orders, they were unable to gain possession of any city or fortified place, with the exception of one only, which was carried by assault, the garrison having refused to surrender. Directions were given for putting the whole to the sword, and in obedience thereto the heads of all were cut off, excepting of eight persons, who, by the efficacy of a diabolical charm, consisting of a jewel or amulet introduced into the right arm, between the skin and the flesh, were rendered secure from the effects of iron, either to kill or wound. Upon this discovery, being made, they were beaten with a heavy wooden club, and presently died.
' It happened, after some time, that a north wind began to blow with great force, and the ships of the Tartars, which lay near the shore of the island, were driven foul of each other. It was determined thereupon, in a couricil of the officers on board, that they ought to disengage themselves from the land ; and accordingly, as soon as the troops were re-embarked, they stood out to sea. The gale, however, increased to so violent a degree that a number of the vessels foundered. The people belonging to them, by floating upon pieces of the wreck, saved themselves upon an island lying about four miles from the coast of Zipangu. The other ships, which, not being so near to the land, did not suffer from the storm, and in which the two chiefs were embarked, together with the principal officers, or those whose rank entitled them to command a hundred thousand or ten thousand men, directed their course homewards, and returned to the grand khan. Those of the Tartars who remained upon the island where they were wrecked, and who amounted to about thirty thousand men, finding themselves left without shipping, abandoned by their leaders, and having neither arms not provisions, expected nothing less than to become captives or to perish ; especially as the island afforded no habitations where they could take shelter and refresh themselves. As soon as the gale ceased and the sea became smooth and calm, the people from the main island of Zipangu came over with a large force, in numerous boats, in order to make prisoners of these shipwrecked Tartars, and having landed, proceeded in search of them, but in a straggling, disorderly manner. The Tartars, on their part, acted with prudent circumspection, and, being concealed from view by some high land in the centre of the island, whilst the enemy were hurrying in pursuit of them by one road, made a circuit of the coast by another, which brought them to the place where the fleet of boats was at anchor. Finding these all abandoned, but with their colours flying, they instantly seized them, and pushing off from the island, stood for the principal city of Zipangu, into which, from the appearance of the colours, they were suffered to enter unmolested. Here they found few of the inhabitants besides women, whom they retained for their own use, and drove out all others. When the king was apprised of what had taken place, he was much afflicted," and immediately gave directions for a strict blockade of the city, which was so effectual that not any person was suffered to enter or to escape from it, during the six months that the siege continued. At the expiration of this time, the Tartars, despairing of succour, surrendered upon the condition of their lives being spared. These events took place in the course of the year 1264.
' In this island of Zipangu and the others in its vicinity, their idols are fashioned in a variety of shapes, some of them having the heads of oxen, some of swine, of dogs, goats, and many other animals. Some exhibit the appear ance of a single head, with two countenances ; others of three heads, one of them in its proper place, and one upon each shoulder. Some have four arms, others ten, and some an hundred ; those which have the greatest number being regarded as the most powerful, and therefore entitled to the most particular worship. When they are asked by Christians wherefore they give to their deities these diversified forms, they answer that their fathers did so before them. " Those who preceded us ", they say, " left them such, and such shall we transmit them to our posterity." The various ceremonies practised before these idols are so wicked and diabolical that it would be nothing less than impiety and an abomination to give an account of them in this our book. The reader should, however, be informed that the idolatrous inhabitants of these islands, when they seize the person of an enemy who has not the means of effecting his ransom for money, invite to their house all their relations and friends, and putting their prisoner to death, dress and eat the body, in a convivial manner, asserting that human flesh surpasses every other in the excellence of its flavour.'
Full of inaccuracies and absurdities as was Polo's story, based doubtless on the gossip of Mongols, Chinese, or Coreans, it revealed to the European world the existence of a large, ifihabited and metalliferous island far out in the ocean, to the east of China. At the time of Our Lord the Greek geographer, Strabo, writing for some public or other in the Roman Empire, had hazarded the suggestion that in the vast expanse of sea between the west of Europe and the east of Asia there might be islands, or even continents. Polo's report and the discovery of the islands off the west coast of Africa made by Portuguese explorers in the halfcentury preceding the voyages of Diaz, Columbus, and Vasco di Gama were evidence that guesses like Strabo's - in themselves reasonable enough - ought not to be disregarded. Polo had stated that Zipangu was 1,500 miles from the 'mainland of China. If he meant Chinese miles (li) he was not far out. As, however, his Travels were written in Latin for Italians, it was natural that Toscanelli and others should consider that he meant not Chinese but Italian miles. On that assumption Toscanelli placed the island of Zipangu much nearer to Europe than it really was.
1 This passage, which should be read in its context, is extracted from the translation of Marco Polo's Travels published, with an introduction by Mr. John Masefield, in the ' Everyman Library '.
Scientific geography was then in its infancy. Instead of warning Columbus that Polo might be mistaken or that his, Toscanelli's, interpretation of Polo's words might be wrong, the Florentine cosmographer, in a letter to Columbus, emphasized the mistake.
' From the City of Lisbon due west,' he wrote, ' there are twenty-six spaces marked on the map, each of which has 250 miles, as far as the most noble city of Quinsay (HangChou-Fu) . . . but from the Island Antilia known to you, to the most noble island of Cippangue (Japan) there are ten spaces. That island is most fertile in gold, pearls and precious stones, and they cover the temples and palaces with solid gold. Thus the space of sea to be crossed in the unknown parts is not great.'
On April 17, 1492, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, the rulers of the recently-united Spanish people, made an agreement with Columbus which events showed they intended to break. It was agreed that Columbus should be appointed ' Viceroy of all the continents and islands discovered by him '. The Genoese seaman set sail from Palos on the 3rd of the following August. He reached the island of San Salvador on October 12. Nine days later he . was writing in his journal : ' I shall shape a course for another much larger island, which I believe to be Cipango, judging from the signs made by the Indians I bring with me. They call it Cuba.' Soon afterwards he discovered Cuba and Hayti, and the next year returned to Europe, carrying with him the news of his discoveries, and tobacco.
It was a long time before the magnitude of Toscanelli's error was ascertained. In 1497, a year before Columbus touched the continent of America, the Venetian John Cabot discovered the coast of North America. Cabot was in the service of Henry VII. On December 18, 1497, Raimondo Di Soncino - envoy of Lodovico Sforja, Duke of Milan, at the court of Henry VII - writing to the Duke, tells him how ' a certain Venetian named Zoanne Caboto (John Cabot) thinks that he will keep on his next voyage still further towards the east, where he will be opposite to an island called Cipango, situated in the equinoctial regions, where he believes that all the spices of the world, as well as the jewels, are found '. Magellan and his companions in their voyage of circumnavigation did not run across Japan, and it was not till years after the Portuguese - moving eastwards from the Cape of Good Hope and India - had reached China, which they did in the year 15 19, that any accurate account of the Japanese reached Europe.
Portuguese traders landed in Japan in 1542, and were quickly followed by the Portuguese Jesuits. In 1547 one of the latter, Francis Xavier, afterwards canonized, reached Kiushiu and commenced the propaganda of the Jesuitical form of Roman Catholic Christianity. Through the Nestorian Christians of China and Corea some idea of the doctrines preached by Christ and his Apostles may have been already known to some of the Japanese, Xavier was well received by the Lord of Satsuma, who probably hoped that from Xavier he might learn how to manufacture the firearms and explosives, the efficiency of which had been already demonstrated by the Portuguese seamen, and also that trade with the Portuguese would be promoted, if he dealt courteously with their priests. Although Xavier never mastered more than a few words of the Japanese language, he and a native convert, one Anjiro, achieved some little success as proselytizers. Judging from Xavier's eulogium of the Japanese, the Jesuit and his two Portuguese companions must have been agreeably surprised to find the islanders maligned by Marco Polo so exceptionally civilized. ' As far as I can judge ', wrote Xavier, ' the Japanese surpass in virtue and probity all peoples hitherto discovered. Their character is gentle. They are no tricksters, and they reckon honour to be superior to everything else. There is a great deal of poverty in the islands. The Japanese dislike poverty, but are not ashamed of it.'
It is significant that Xavier's views on the Japanese were substantially the same as those (see pp. 102-3) of Lord Elgin and other foreigners who visited Japan three centuries later.
Unhappily for his cause, Xavier was a bigot. He speedily made himself objectionable to the Buddhist priests in Satsuma. Nor did he lend himself to the military and commercial designs of the lord of that province, and, when the Buddhists urged the latter to stamp out Christianity, the Baron of Satsuma issued (1550) an edict making it a capital offence for any of his vassals to embrace Christianity. The edict was, however, not retrospective. Satsuma being closed to him, Xavier crossed over to the island of Hirado, where he was welcomed by the local chieftain.
From Hirado the Jesuit proceeded to Kyoto with the object of securing the Mikado's protection. He failed to obtain an audience, and returned to Yamaguchi, where he received permission to preach, and was assigned a Buddhist monastery for his residence. The Lord of Bungo - a province on the east of Kiushiu - was, like the Lord of Satsuma, anxious through Xavier to trade with the Portuguese and obtain their novel weapons. The Bungo feudatory invited Xavier to his little court. Xavier remained there four months, and in February 1552 departed for Goa. He had made 760 converts, but, dying in the December of that year, was not destined to revisit Japan. ' If the Chinese adopt the Christian religion ', he had said, ' the Japanese also will abandon the religions they have introduced from China.' This remark, unlike those of his already quoted, shows little understanding of the Japanese character. Two Japanese converts had accompanied him to Goa. One died there ; the other - perhaps the first Japanese to set foot in Europe - reached Lisbon, visited Rome, became a member of the Society of Jesus, and died at Coimbra.
Xavier's successors continued to spread the Jesuit doctrines. In 1559, one of them, Vilela, was invited to Kyoto by the abbot of a Buddhist monastery. He was received by the Shogun, Ashikaga Yoshiteru, who issued a decree making it a capital offence to interfere with the Portuguese missionaries. But by this date the Ashikaga Shogunate was nearing its end, and the intrusive foreigners were confronted by a group of Japanese soldiers and statesmen quite as able as or even abler than Yoritomo and his councillors.
The persons who now reunited Japan were Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa lyeyasu. The first-named, born in 1534 - a year after the birth of Queen Elizabeth - showed in his youth that he was no ordinary petty noble. Careless of etiquette, he irritated his tutor, Hirate Masahide, to such an extent that the latter committed suicide, leaving behind him a letter in which he appealed to his pupil's better instincts. This tragic event proved the turningpoint in Nobunaga's career. He became wary and circumspect, though at times the impetuous nature of the man boiled over. As Captain Brinkley well observed, Nobunaga's disposition may be surmised from the verses ever on his lips : Life is short ; the world is a mere dream to the idle. Only the fool fears death, for what is there of life that
does not die once, sooner or later ? Man has to die once only ; He should make his death glorious.
Very different were the verses put into the mouths of Faustus and Hamlet by Nobunaga's younger contemporaries, Marlowe and Shakespeare !
Nobunaga was the son of a comparatively rich man. Among the .servants of his father's family was a yeoman farmer, to whom was born in 1536 a boy, called in his childhood Hiyoshimaru, and afterwards Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The child was small and ugly. At the age of sixteen he became the menial of a Buddhist priest. Introduced to the commandant of the castle of Kuno, he entered the latter's service. The jealousy of his fellow retainers brought about his dismissal, and he joined Nobunaga in the humble position of sandal-bearer. Ambitious, audacious, able, he quickly won the confidence of his and his father's master.
The ancestral fief of Nobunaga - Owari - formed part of the one-hundred-mile-broad isthmus which connects the western with the eastern half of Honshiu. Its southern boundary was the Bay of Ise. To its east, in Mikawa, was a fief, the lord of which was Matsudaira Motoyasu, later to be known as Tokugawa lyeyasu. A glance at the map will show that Nobunaga was in a central position, if he should aim at conquering the whole of Honshiu. His domain was in the Midland Counties, as it were, of the island. He was much nearer to Kyoto than Yoritomo had been when at Kamakura. In June 1560 a neighbouring baron, Imagawa Yoshimoto, accompanied by Tokugawa lyeyasu, invaded Owari with an army 46,000 strong. By skilful manoeuvres Nobunaga, though his forces were very inferior, routed the invaders in a series of actions known as the battle of Okehazama. The result was that Nobunaga became famous throughout Japan. An alliance was contracted by him with Tokugawa lyeyasu, whose eldest son was subsequently betrothed to Nobunaga's daughter.
For some years after the battle of Okehazama, Nobunaga with the help of lyeyasu, now his ally, directed his attention to increasing his hold over the fiefs lying between him and the capital, Kyoto. In 1565 the Ashikaga Shogun, Yoshiteru, who, it will be remembered, favoured the Jesuits, was attacked in his palace, and committed suicide. His younger brother, Yoshiaki, escaped. In 1567 the Mikado called upon Nobunaga to restore order in Kyoto. The next year, with 30,000 men, Nobunaga marched on the capital and procured the nomination of Yoshiaki to the post of Shogun, while Hideyoshi became Prefect of Kyoto.
Yoshiaki did not long enjoy his office. In 1573 he was deposed by Nobunaga, and the Ashikaga Shogunate tame to an end. During the rest of his life, which ended in 1582, when he was attacked by an enemy and committed suicide, Nobunaga was engaged with Hideyoshi and lyeyasu in crushing the feudal barons and militant Buddhist monks of central and eastern Honshiu. In the course of his campaigns he adopted the European mediaeval system of fortification. At Azuchi a castle (completed in 1579) was begun in 1576. In the centre of it, on a stone basement, rose a wooden tower 90 feet high. Another innovation of Nobunaga's was the arming of some of his troops with firearms. At the battle of Takinosawa (1575) his men, by their fire-tactics, gained the day.
Nobunaga had been opposed by militant Buddhists. Like the Scottish nobles who dethroned Mary Stuart and patronized John Knox, he had welcomed the antagonists of his religious enemies. " This man ', said the Jesuits, " seems to have been chosen by God to open and prepare the way for our faith.' Nobunaga, however, had no such intention. A refractory noble had professed Christianity. In 1579 Nobunaga had seized the Jesuits in Kyoto and had threatened to prohibit the teaching of Christianity, unless they brought the rebellious baron over to his, Nobnaga's, side.
The death of Nobunaga was speedily avenged by the faithful Hideyoshi. Thirteen days after the event, the head of the man who had driven him to commit suicide was being exposed in Kyoto. At the age of forty-six Hideyoshi, ex-sandal bearer to Nobunaga, found himself one of the most powerful personages in Japan. His mind was already filled with grandiose, yet withal feasible, schemes. In 1577 he is reported to have stated that it was his intention to conquer Kiushiu, next Corea, and finally China. ' When that is effected ', he is said to have told Nobunaga, ' the three countries, China, Corea, and Japan, will be one. I shall do it all as easily as a man rolls up a piece of matting and carries it under his arm.'
The words attributed to Hideyoshi may well be authentic. He believed in his exalted destiny. ' I am the only remaining scion of a humble stock ', he wrote later to the King of Corea, ' but my mother once had a dream in which she saw the sun enter her bosom after which she gave birth to me. There was then a soothsayer who said : " Wherever the sun shines, there shall be no place which shall not be subject to him ".' The Corean ambassadors who met him described him as a mean and ignoble-looking man ' with dark complexion and undistinguished features '. But ' his eye-balls ', they observed, ' sent out flashes of fire - enough to pierce one through ', and he ' seemed to do exactly as he pleased, and was as unconcerned as if nobody else were present '. When we remember the difficulties in the way of a plebeian acquiring power in an aristocratictheocratic society like that of Japan of the sixteenth century, and that the Japanese Cromwell conquered Kiushiu, reduced to submission all the turbulent nobles in Honshiu, and directed from Japan campaigns in Corea of a Napoleonic magnitude, the inference is that only an accident prevented him from becoming Emperor of China.
Borrowing metallurgical methods from Europe, this remarkable statesman enormously increased the output of the "gold and sUver mines in Sado and at Ikuno, and endowed Japan with a gold and silver coinage on a large scale, thus providing himself with the sinews for civil and foreign wars. At Osaka he built a gigantic granite fortress, surrounded by three moats, each 20 feet deep, in the centre of which was a three-storey donjon, armour-plated and coated with plaster to protect it from fire. The Buddhist monks who had given Nobunaga so much trouble were conciliated but disarmed by him. For a time he continued Nobunaga's policy towards the Christians. Under Hideyoshi, Japan was minutely surveyed and a detailed map of the islands prepared. As legislator and patron of the arts and letters he won distinction. At Fushimi he created an art-capital, to which flocked the most skilful painters, lacquerers, metalworkers, and wood-carvers. He encouraged trade with Macao, Cambodia, and Annam.
Of Nobunaga's sons, Nobukatsu alone openly resented the ascendancy of Hideyoshi. He plotted his downfall, and at first received assistance from his father's friend, Tokugawa lyeyasu. In March 1584 war broke out between them, but on December u peace was concluded between Hideyoshi and Nobukatsu. Subsequently, Hideyoshi and lyeyasu were reconciled and the Nobunaga party again reunited.
Thenceforward to his death Hideyoshi directed the party's fortunes. In 1585 he reduced the militant Buddhist monks of Kiiand threw an army across the Inland Sea into the island of Shikoku, which was rapidly brought under subjection. During 1586 he made extensive preparations for the reduction of Kiushiu, the head-quarters of Roman Catholicism in Japan. The next year, 1587, an army of 60,000 troops left Osaka and landed in Bungo on January 19. At the head of 130,000 men Hideyoshi himself in February crossed the Straits of Shimonoseki. The feudal chieftains fought desperately for their independence. In the end even the Lord of Satsuma, who had boasted that he would never kneel to a ' monkey-faced upstart ', was forced to submit. The upstart, with his glorious dreams of foreign conquests floating before his mind, treated the defeated foe generously. But he obliged the Satsuma baron to abdicate in favour of a younger brother.
Hideyoshi's Kiushiu campaign was a turning-point in the history of Roman Catholicism in Japan. Up to then he had protected the Jesuit missionaries. ' He is not only not opposed to the things of God ', they wrote, ' but he is entrusting to Christians his treasures, secrets, and most important fortresses.' It was averred that he had expressed an intention of Christianizing half of the islands, but in 1586 he became reconciled with the Buddhists. He was erecting an enormous image of Buddha at Kyoto, and during the campaign he had received valuable help from a Buddhist abbot. As protector of Buddhism he was not likely to be over-friendly to Roman Catholicism. But other than religious reasons account for his chaiige of policy. In 1580 Philip II of Spain had annexed Portugal, and Portuguese Jesuits were henceforth (up to 1640) the subjects of the King of Spain. Macao, in the Bay of Canton, was now a Spanish port. The Philippines were in the possession of the Spaniards, and the whole of the west coast of America was Spanish territory. It was natural, therefore, that Hideyoshi should be alarmed at the growing power of the Catholic priests in Japan. He had heard how the ancient civilizations of Mexico and Peru had been extinguished by the Spaniards, nominally because the Mexicans and Peruvians were heathen, but reaUy because gold and silver were found in those countries; and he must have been aware that Portugal had been seized by the King of Spain, and that the same monarch, with the aid of the Roman Catholics, was trying to subjugate other European countries. In 1582 four Japanese converts had been conveyed to Europe, where they were received by Pope Gregory XIII in 1584, the year after William of Orange was assassinated by the orders of Philip II and Parma. As these converts did not return to Japan till 1590, they must have become acquainted with the momentous events occurring in Europe between 1584 and the latter date. Perhaps they or other Japanese sent home intelligence of the Jesuit-ridden Philip IPs preparations for the conquest of England and of his intrigues with the Guises in France. As Kiushiu would be the base for a Spanish conquest of Japan, the spread of Roman Catholicism in Kiushiu had obviously to be stopped. Hideyoshi could not afford to have Jesuits tampering with the allegiance of nobles like the Lord of Satsuma. Before he left Osaka for the Kiushiu campaign, he said in public, ' I fear much that all the virtue of the European priests is ', as indeed it presumably wras, ' a mask of hypocrisy and serves only to conceal pernicious designs against the kingdom'. The view of the ruined temples, overturned idols, and terrorized Christian converts in Kiushiu cannot but have filled his heart with disgust. The Japanese civilization was on as high a plane as the Spanish civilization, which was endeavouring to supplant it. On his return victorious from Satsuma, the Japanese ruler suddenly put five questions to the Vice-Provincial of the Jesuits. Why, he asked, had the Jesuits constrained Japanese to become Christians ? Why had they induced their converts to destroy temples ? Why did they persecute the bonzes ? Why did they eat oxen and cows, animals so useful to human beings ? Lastly, why did they allow Japanese to be enslaved and carried off to the Indies ?
The answers given by the ViceProvincial were unsatisfactory. Hideyoshi ordered him and his followers to retire to the island of Hirado and to quit Japan. On July 25, 1587, he issued the following edict :
' Having learned from our faithful councillors that foreign priests have come into our states where they preach a law contrary to that of Japan, and that they have had the audacity to destroy temples dedicated to our Kami and Hotoke ; although the outrage merits the most extreme punishment, wishing nevertheless to show them mercy, we order them under pain of death to quit Japan within twenty days. During that space no harm or hurt will be done to them. But at the expiration of that term, we order that if any of them be found in our states, they should be seized and punished as the greatest criminals. As for the Portuguese merchants, we permit them to enter our ports, there to continue their accustomed trade, and to remain in our states provided our affairs need this. But we forbid them tq bring any foreign priests into the country, under the penalty of the confiscation of their ships and goods.'
The above edict, very mild for the age, was not strictly enforced. Some Jesuits remained in or returned to Japan, and there they were joined by the Franciscans and Dominicans, who considered that the then newly-formed Society of Jesus was unjustifiably interfering with the vested interests which they themselves had acquired since the thirteenth century. While the Jesuits covertly, their rivals openly, preached in Japan. A church was erected by them in Kyoto, and a convent founded in Osaka. For some reason or other - probably because he was engrossed with the Chinese War - Hideybshi did not take offence at the proceedings of the Franciscans and Dominicans until 1597, the year before his death.
Between the dates of the first and second of his persecutions of the Christians - if the term is a correct one for those measures - Hideyoshi completed his subjugation of the feudal barons of Japan and commenced to put in motion his schemes for the conquest of China. The west and centre of Honshiu, with Kiushiu and Shikoku, were now firmly in the grip of Hideyoshi and of the Mikado. But in the east the Hojo nobles of the Kwanto, from which district Yoritomo had once ruled Japan, still held out. Higher up the island, the powerful baron, Date Masamune, was practically independent.
In March 1590 an army of 200,000 troops in three columns, one of which was commanded byTokugawa lyeyasu, moved into the Kwanto. For four months the Hojo family and their vassals fiercely resisted the invaders, but in July their great stronghold, Odawara, surrendered, and the head of the family was killed. During the siege Hideyoshi, who proposed to give lyeyasu eight of the provinces of the Kwanto, pointed out to the latter the advisability of making Yedo his capital. Yedo is the modern Tokyo, the present capital of Japan.
The fall of Odawara and the ruin of the Hojo family brought Date Masamune to reason. He submitted to Hideyoshi. In the words of Captain Brinkley, ' for the first time since the middle of the fifteenth century, the whole of the Empire was pacified'. Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and lyeyasu had accomplished in Japan what Fairfax, Cromwell, and Monk were to accomplish in the British Isles half a century or so later. They had done their work without deposing their divine-right sovereign, and the Japanese had become a united, disciplined people:
Hideyoshi was at last free to carry out his schemes for the conquest of Corea and China. Emigrants from Kiushiu had settled in the Ningpo district of the Celestial Empire, and Japanese privateers had spread terror along the coasts of Corea and China as English privateers were then doing along the coasts of Spain and Spanish America. ' On the 23rd of the fifth month of 1553 ', records a Chinese annalist, ' twenty-seven Japanese vessels arrived at Lung-wang-tang. They looked like so many hills ', he poetically adds, ' and their white sails were as clouds in the sky.' Again, ' on the 23rd of the second month of 1556', the same annalist records, * pirate ships arrived at the entrance to Kinshan-hai. Their masts were like a dense forest of bamboos.' In 1556 Japanese pirates looted and burned Yang-Chou, in 1559 they attacked Chekiang, in 1560 they were ofiE Shanghai. The vessels were low in the water and narrow ; the largest carried 300 sailors. It is recorded that the Japanese were expert marksmen with firearms, and their trenchant swords inspired fear among the Celestials. ' They always advance ', said a Chinese narrator, ' in single rank at a slow pace, and thus their line is miles long. . . . Against our positions they begin by sending a few men, who by swift and deceptive movements cause our troops to exhaust all their projectiles fruitlessly, and then the assault is delivered.' If Japanese buccaneers could achieve such results, what might not be expected from the huge armies of veteran soldiers which Hideyoshi was preparing to disembark in Corea ? The Ming Dynasty was tottering to its fall. In 1644 it was to be overthrown by the Manchus. There was little then that was chimerical in the plans of the Japanese Cromwell. In 1572 the Japanese, who had been previously expelled from Corea, had obtained permission to settle at Fusan,a port on the Corean Straits. Japan had, therefore, already a footing in the peninsula.
As a preliminary step, Hideyoshi sought the alliance of the King of Corea. ' The Empire of Japan ', he wrote to the Corean monarch, ' has of late years been brought to ruin by internal dissensions. . . . This state of things roused me to indignation and in a few years I restored peace to the country I will assemble a mighty host, and, invading
the country of the great Ming, I will fill with the hoarfrost from my sword the whole sky over the four hundred provinces. Should I carry out this purpose, I hope that the Coreans will form my vanguard.' The Coreans were asked to allow the Japanese Army to march through their territory on the way to Peking. They had permitted Kublai to invade Japan from Corea ; it was now their turn to permit the Japanese through Corea to invade China.
After considerable delay the King of Corea replied with a flat refusal. For the Japanese to attempt to conquer China, he observed, was like attempting to bail out the ocean with a cockle-shell. This stupid criticism of his plans did not deter Hideyoshi. The nobles whose fiefs were washed by the sea were ordered to provide a fleet. Crews were procured from the fishing villages, and 9,200 soldiers armed with matchlocks, bows and swords were placed on board. Unfortunately, most of the ships were, like the Viking vessels, open rowing boats. Hideyoshi had failed in his efforts to induce the Portuguese to sell him some galleons. Immense quantities of rice and other provisions were collected and an army of 300,000 concentrated in the north-west of Kiushiu. Setting aside the semifabulous expedition of Xerxes, no overseas expedition had ever before been prepared on so large a scale.
The plan of campaign might have been designed by Napoleon or Marshal Oyama. An army was to be disembarked at Fusan. In three columns - one moving up the east coast, another up the centre, and a third by the coast road on the west - it was to advance on Seoul, the capital of Corea. Behind - also based on Fusan - another army with the commander-in-chief, Ukita Hideiye, was to follow, subduing the regions traversed by the first army. When Seoul had been occupied and the united forces were marching on the Yalu and the frontiers of Manchuria, a third army was to be transported by sea to the mouth of the Taitong, to assemble at Ping-yang and to act as a reserve. It was substantially the plan adopted by the Japanese in the Chino-Japanese War of 1894-5, described in chapter vi.
On May 24, 1592, the vanguard (18,700 strong) of the first army landed in Corea. The next day the castle of Fusan was stormed, A few days later, a second corps (20,800 strong) disembarked at Fusan and moved northwards up the east coast. On June 12 Seoul was entered by the Japanese. The Coreans, defeated in a number of engagements, retired on the, Yalu and sent pressing messages to the Chinese, imploring them to come to their assistance.
So far all had gone well for the Japanese, and Hideyoshi in June was writing to his nephew that the Mikado would enter Peking in 1594 and distribute Chinese estates among Japanese nobles. Hideyoshi had reckoned without the Corean fleet. The Coreans possessed large ships, over the sides and decks of many of which they had nailed sheet iron. Through the loop-holes and port-holes they could pour down on the Japanese open galleys volleys of bullets and flights of arrows. Chevaux de frise prevented the Japanese swordsmen from boarding. While the Japanese vanguard was entering Seoul, the Corean admiral with eighty men-of-war fell upon the Japanese fleet in Fusan harbour, set twenty-six vessels on fire, and dispersed the rest. A Japanese flotilla with part of the third army bound for Ping-yang was dispersed by the Coreans, over seventy vessels being sunk. Meanwhile the Japanese lines of communication in the peninsula were cut by guerrilla bands. These untoward events upset Hideypshi's calculations. The vanguard of the great Japanese Army could not advance beyond Ping-yang. A proposal of its commander, Konishi Yukinaga, to march into China was vetoed by the generalissijno Hideiye.
In October the Coreans received a reinforcement of 5,000 Chinese troops. These and the Coreans attacked the Japanese at Ping-yang, but were signally defeated. In February 1593 a Chinese Army, estimated at 200,000, but perhaps not more than 51,000 strong, crossed the Yalu. Its artillery was superior to the Japanese and the Japanese swords could not pierce the Chinese coats of chain-mail. After severe fighting, the Japanese evacuated Ping-yang and retreated on Seoul. Famine and pestilence forced them to abandon the Corean capital on May 9. Negotiations for peace began. While they were in progress, the Japanese stormed Chinju, reckoned the strongest of the Corean fortresses. After its fall, the bulk of the Japanese Army was withdrawn from Corea, one corps being left entrenched in twelve fortified camps along the southern coast of the peninsula.
Hideyoshi had met the first serious rebuff in the course of his long and glorious career. During the next three years negotiations with China continued and on October 21, 1596, a Chinese embassy landed in Japan. According to the story, the ambassadors presented Hideyoshi with a robe and crovm,and he imagined that he was to be Emperor of China. On reading the letter which accompanied the gift, he discovered that the Chinese Emperor had affected to create him - as an earlier Ming sovereign had created Ashikaga Yoshimitsu - King of Japan. He was bidden to defend the Chinese frontiers, to be humbly guided by and always to follow the instructions of the Chinese Emperor. Again, according to the story, which is on the face of it improbable, Hideyoshi tore off the robe and flung aside the crown.
Whatever may be the real facts, in 1597 the Corean campaign was resumed and the Japanese Army in the peninsula raised to 141,000 men. Hideyoshi in the interval had built a powerful navy. The Japanese joined battle with and destroyed the Corean fleet.
While the second of his Corean campaigns was in progress, Hideyoshi renewed his persecution of the Roman Catholics, In 1597 a richly laden Spanish galleon, the San Felipe, which had left Manila, the capital of the Philippines, for Acapulco in Mexico, ran aground on the Japanese coast in the Tosa province. The local officials urged Hideyoshi to confiscate the ship and its cargo. Apparently to stimulate his appetite, they at the same time pointed out that the Franciscans were flagrantly disobeying his edict of 1587, Hideyoshi had the Franciscans arrested and sent officers to seize both ship and cargo. In the hope of saving the San Felipe and its contents, the Spanish pilot produced a map of the world and indicated on it the vast extent of his sovereign the King of Spain's Empire. He wdshed to persuade Hideyoshi's agents that it would be well for him and for them not to quarrel with so mighty a monarch. The Japanese appear to have been too astute for the pilot. They innocently asked how it was that so small a country as Spain had acquired dominions so huge in extent, ' Our kings,' incautiously replied the simple seaman, ' begin by sending into the countries which they wish to conquer a number of missionaries who induce the people to embrace our religion, and when they have made considerable progress,troops ate sent who combine with the new Christians, and then our kings have not much trouble in accomplishing the rest.'
The pilot's answer was reported to Hideyoshi. It confirmed his worst suspicions. He arrested the Franciscans and treated them as Anglicans, Lutherans or Calvinists were being treated by the Spaniards. Twenty-six Christians were killed ; one hundred and thirty-seven churches in Kiushiu were destroyed, and the Jesuits either were, or were ordered to be, expelled.
Meanwhile, driving before it the Chino-Corean Army, the Japanese Army was again advancing on Seoul. Early in 1598 the enemy, who had been reinforced by 40,000 troops, turned at bay. On October 30, thanks to the valour of the Satsuma samurai, the Japanese won a great victory. It was not,Jiowever, to be the prelude to the reduction or dismemberment of the Chinese Empire. The mainspring of the enterprise had snapped. On September 18, 1598, the year of the death of Philip II, Hideyoshi had died at the age of 62. On his death-bed he is said to have composed verses which may be compared with those attributed to the Roman Emperor Hadrian during his last moments :
Ah ! as the dew I fall,
As the dew I vanish.
Even Osaka fortress
Is a dream within a dream.
Hideyoshi's death brought the war to an end. An armistice was promptly concluded in Corea and the Mikado's forces were soon afterwards withdrawn.
The premature disappearance of Hideyoshi was an event as far-reaching in importance as the premature disappearances of Alexander the Great and Trajan. Had he lived a few more years he might have conquered Corea and China, and under him or his son the Philippines and Macao might have been snatched from the grasp of the Spaniards, the Spice Islands from the Dutch. The vast sparsely populated continents of Australia and America were also Japan's for the taking. Later the Japanese smight have interfered decisively in the struggle for the control of India between the Dutch, Portuguese, French, and British. Such projects, which may from time to time have been contemplated by the subsequent rulers of Japan, were to be resolutely set aside. Under lyeyasu, the first of the Tokugawa Shoguns, and his successors, the Japanese again became self-centred.