Date Yoshikuni

In this Japanese name, the family name is Date.
Date Yoshikuni
Lord of Sendai
In office
Preceded by Date Narikuni
Succeeded by Date Munemoto
Personal details
Born (1825-10-17)October 17, 1825
Sendai, Japan
Died July 12, 1874(1874-07-12) (aged 48)
Tokyo, Japan
Resting place Sendai, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Spouse(s) Takatsukasa Tsunahime (1st wife), Tokugawa Takako (2nd wife)

Date Yoshikuni (伊達 慶邦, October 17, 1825 July 12, 1874) was a Japanese daimyo lord of the late Edo period. He was the 29th generation head of the Date clan and 11th daimyo of Sendai Domain. He is known primarily for his role as commander-in-chief of the Ōuetsu Reppan Dōmei during the Boshin War of the Meiji Restoration.

During his tenure he was also known by his courtesy title, Mutsu no Kami (陸奥守). His poetic name was Rakuzan-ko (楽山公)

Early life

Yoshikuni was born at Aoba Castle in Sendai, the second son of the 11th generation daimyo, Date Nariyoshi. His childhood name was first Jozaburō (穣三郎), and then Tōjirō (藤次郎). In 1837, he married the daughter of his older brother Date Narikuni and was adopted as his official successor, taking the name of Date Toshimura.

Early the following year, at age 14, he had his coming-of-age ceremony in Edo Castle, and was received in formal audience by the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyoshi, who bestowed upon him the "yoshi" character from his name, thus becoming Date Yoshitoshi, and receiving the courtesy titles of Chikuzen-no-kami and jijū (chamberlain).

Late in 1841, on the death of his brother he became daimyo of Sendai Domain, received the courtesy titles of Mutsu no Kami and Sakon-e gon-shosho. He also changed his name to Data Yoshikuni at this time, taking the “kuni” character from his brother’s name.

Career as Daimyo

However, despite its high income rating of 620,000 koku, the domain inherited by Date Yoshikuni was beset with problems. The countryside was ravaged from the effects of enormous Tenpo famine, and for much of his tenure his actual income, was much reduced, at times to even the 100,000 koku level. The domain was also given the responsibility of policing the vast northern island of Ezo, including border patrols in Chishima islands, especially Etorofu and Kunashiri where incursions by ships from the Russian Empire were becoming more frequent. Sendai domain administered roughly one-third of the area of present-day Hokkaido.

The finances of the domain were further weakened when assigned by the shogunate the task of contributing to security efforts in Kyoto in the 1860s. Sendai domain was assigned having the Shimodachiuri-gomon Gate of the Imperial Palace. However, with the start of the Boshin War in 1868, Sendai initially remained neutral, and its forces based in Kyoto did not get involved in the Battle of Toba–Fushimi. In the period immediately following the battle, Date Yoshikuni was consulted by Matsudaira Nobunori, lord of Aizu Domain, who wished to use the Date clan's as-yet unmarred reputation in the eyes of the Satchō Alliance in order to achieve leniency for his father, Matsudaira Katamori. However, traditional rivalries between the domains of eastern and western Japan, and the arrogant behavior of emissaries sent by the Satcho alliance, such as Sara Shuzo forced Yoshikuni’s hand, and he eventually became the somewhat reluctant leader of the Ōuetsu Reppan Dōmei. He was appointed shōgun by Prince Kitashirakawa Yoshihisa, who had declared himself the northern emperor, Tōbu. However, because of Yoshikuni's indecisiveness and the confederation's incohesiveness and obsolescence of its weapons and tactics, Sendai Domain was defeated by the combined armies of the new Meiji government led by Kujō Michitaka. Yoshikuni retired to the domain’s residence in Tokyo together with his son Date Muneatsu, and voluntarily placed themselves in confinement.

The same year, Yoshikuni's fourth son Date Munemoto succeeded to as clan leader, was allowed to become daimyo of the much reduced Sendai Domain, with revenues of only 280,000 koku. Yoshikuni remained in retirement until his death in 1874 at age 50. His funeral was held at the Buddhist temple of Saifuku-ji in Komagome, Tokyo, but according to Shinto rituals, so he did not receive a posthumous name. In April 1890, his ashes were removed to the Data clan’s cemetery at Dainen-ji in Sendai.

See also


The emblem (mon) of the Date clan
    Preceded by
    Date Narikuni
    Lord of Sendai
    Succeeded by
    Date Munemoto
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