Nobunaga’s Ambition Realized: Dawn of a New Rising Sun

Chapter 32: Nurhaci Strikes Back

Chapter 32: Nurhaci Strikes Back

By 1610, Ming Emperor Wanli had withdrawn from government, ceasing to attend imperial council meetings. His place was largely taken by Crown Prince Zhu Changxun, although the Emperor’s absence at many ceremonies and court rituals weakened the power and legitimacy of the government. Nevertheless, the imperial court largely managed its affairs under the Crown Prince’s leadership for 10 years before Emperor Wanli finally died. Zhu Changxun inherited the Dragon Throne at the age of 34, henceforth known as Emperor Zhenchun.

Zhenchun immediately addressed a resurgent external threat: the Jurchens, now the Jin khanate. Some tribes had defected from Nurhaci’s grasp in the aftermath of the Battle of the Suri River but within a few years he had mostly reversed these losses. The key to his subsequent success was his Eight Banners army, which incorporated Jurchen, Han Chinese, and Mongol elements into a cohesive military force. In 1616, he proclaimed himself khan and elevated his federation, now consisting of most Jurchens and a handful of Han Chinese defectors, to khanate status, referred by historians as the Later Jin khanate. In 1617, conflict broke out between Nurhaci and the Ming-backed Northern Yuan, led by the ambitious Ligdan Khan who sought to reinvigorate his fractious Mongol realm. In this war, Nurhaci’s experience as a cunning commander and political player won out as he earned victory after victory and swayed many eastern tumens to his side. Upon the conclusion of this war, the Jurchens once again breathed upon the neck of Ming China.​

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Bronze statue of Nurhaci​

When the last independent Jurchen tribe, the Yehe, became Nurhaci’s next target, it became clear that the Ming needed to deal with the Jin directly. In 1621, Emperor Zhenchun assembled an army of 100,000 under the command of Sun Chengzong and sent messengers to Joseon, the Northern Yuan, and the Yehe to aid the Ming effort. Ligdan Khan, eager to get revenge, committed 20,000 Yuan horse archers to the campaign while Joseon king Gwanghaegun sent a force of 20,000, with the Yehe committing their entire force to preserve their independence. A confident Nurhaci, commanding an army of 75,000 troops, devised a plan to prevent the different contingents from coalescing and pick off the smaller ones before facing the Ming. He would personally march into Joseon with his entire force.

Knowing he stood no chance against the old steppe chieftain, Hong-rip instead split his army into smaller, more mobile contingents and scattered them in fortresses and forested areas to skirmish the approaching Jin army. Nurhaci crossed the Yalu River and quickly devastated the Joseon countryside. However, his army was continuously harassed by Hong-rip’s soldiers who employed hit-and-run and scorched earth tactics to pick off Jin troops and deprive them of supplies to great effect. When Nurhaci attempted a siege on a nearby fortress, the reinforced garrison countered with arquebus, cannon fire, and night raids into the Jin camp. The situation became unbearable and when news of Ming, Yehe, and Mongol forces coalescing to the north came, Nurhaci retreated, satisfied that although unbroken, Joseon forces were too scattered to reconfigure fast enough and would be forced to deal with the destruction his army caused in the country.

Sun Chengzong’s army of 130,000 Han Chinese, Yehe Jurchens, and Mongols met Nurhaci’s weakened army of 65,000 at the Battle of Sarhu. Jin cavalry manned the entire front line with infantry in the back while Chengzong placed arquebusiers and Ming infantry in the center, positioning Mongol cavalry on the left and Yehe cavalry on the right with Chinese infantry and cavalry support troops on both wings and artillery in the back. The battle began with the Jin horse archers sprinting back and forth shooting arrows at the coalition army in an attempt to lead them into feigned retreats across the board. The Ming center, the most disciplined portion of Chengzong’s army steadily marched forwards, only stopping to fire matchlock volleys, while the Yehe and Mongol cavalry eventually fell for Nurhaci’s trap and rode towards the retreating Jin, who immediately turned back and charged. While the Yehe were immediately routed, the Mongols held on, allowing Chengzong to divert Ming reserves to the collapsing left wing. When it seemed after an hour that the Mongols would break, Nurhaci ordered a general charge against the Ming center but miscalculated its strength and numbers and the Jin were overwhelmed with arquebus and cannon fire, triggering a disorganized retreat. This allowed troops in the center to wheel around and push back the Jin left wing, eventually forcing them to retreat as well. Sensing danger, the Jin cavalry on the right also retreated in good order. For the second and last time, Nurhaci failed to defeat the might of Ming China on the battlefield.​

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Brown=Jin, Yellow=Ming, Green=Mongol, Blue=Yehe​

After the battle, Emperor Zhenchun began planning a large expedition to subjugate Jurchen lands just north of the Great Wall but was distracted by Dutch activities in the south, first the assault on Macau and then outright war over the Pescadores between 1622 and 1624. He also contended with several peasant revolts that broke out at the end of the decade. Regardless, Jurchen power had been broken and the Jin khanate would decline after Nurhaci’s death in 1626. With the Northern Yuan still weakened after years of war, the Ming frontier in the north was secure for now.​
 
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So the Jurchens are going to be contained in Manchuria. I’m all for that. I’m wondering how an ethnic Han-ruled China is going to affect the European perception of China (especially without the Queue hairstyles and surviving Hanfu)
 
Hoping the manchu culture manages to survive as well without them having to deal with the stress of being the chinese upper class and their homeland being flooded with chinese settlers(at least for now anyway)
 
Hoping the manchu culture manages to survive as well without them having to deal with the stress of being the chinese upper class and their homeland being flooded with chinese settlers(at least for now anyway)
Depending on how things go, Emperor Zhenchun may go for lands in the north provided he can suppress peasant rebellions and deal effectively with the incoming plagues, famines, and natural disasters as he still wants buffer territory. The only big change that is happening for sure is the term "Manchu" never arising.
 
Depending on how things go, Emperor Zhenchun may go for lands in the north provided he can suppress peasant rebellions and deal effectively with the incoming plagues, famines, and natural disasters as he still wants buffer territory. The only big change that is happening for sure is the term "Manchu" never arising.
I'd still think the Ming would collapse at one point but maybe it'll be another native Han dynasty?

Also are Manchus called Jurchens ittl?
 
So the Jurchens are going to be contained in Manchuria. I’m all for that. I’m wondering how an ethnic Han-ruled China is going to affect the European perception of China (especially without the Queue hairstyles and surviving Hanfu)
The Jurchens are definitely going to he in for a tough time over these next few decades. Not only are they going to be disunited after being humbled by the Chinese and Koreans, but also the Russians are going to start creeping in on them too, so they're going to be pressed on all sides.
 
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I'd still think the Ming would collapse at one point but maybe it'll be another native Han dynasty?

Also are Manchus called Jurchens ittl?
I don't think that the Jurchen/Manchus called themselves that during that time period. The very idea of a Manchu identity only really began during the time of Nurhaci in the 1620s and 30s, as a way to forge a unique, unified ethnic identity for the disparate clans of Jurchens (which is itself a Chinese invention) and separate themselves from their prior, tribal identities. It was also during the early days of the Qing Dynasty when the Manchu rulers first tried to document and create histories for the various Manchu Clans to provide a sense of legitimacy.
 
I don't think that the Jurchen/Manchus called themselves that during that time period. The very idea of a Manchu identity only really began during the time of Nurhaci in the 1620s and 30s, as a way to forge a unique, unified ethnic identity for the disparate clans of Jurchens (which is itself a Chinese invention) and separate themselves from their prior, tribal identities. It was also during the early days of the Qing Dynasty when the Manchu rulers first tried to document and create histories for the various Manchu Clans to provide a sense of legitimacy.
I mean the original Jin dynasty are Jurchens and I'd think the Chinese would just call them Jin since it's a name they have for them or something. It could be that the name was adopted by the Japanese and that's why the other Europeans call them with that name.
 
Chapter 33: Capital of the Merchants, Capital of the Nobles, Capital of the Samurai

Chapter 33: Capital of the Merchants, Capital of the Nobles, Capital of the Samurai


It was recognized that in the early 1600s, Japan had three de facto capitals representing different groups: that of the merchants in Sakai, that of the nobles in Kyoto, and that of the samurai in Azuchi. All three were roughly equal in population around this time, with Azuchi destined to eventually become the consistently most populous among the three by a small margin.

Azuchi as a major city was born between 1576 and 1579 amidst the construction of Azuchi Castle, which birthed a burgeoning castle town, or joukamachi (城下町). The decade following the completion of the castle witnessed immense population growth, aided due to multiple factors. Principally, the requirement for every daimyo and vassal outside of the Kanto region to both maintain a permanent residence and reside in Azuchi for periods of time established a steady demand of goods and services from samurai families and necessitated the rapid construction of said residences and supporting infrastructure, attracting droves of commoners from wealthy merchants to unskilled laborers. An initial tax moratorium and Nobunaga’s free trade policies also incentivized this population growth. While samurai lodgings and residences occupied the castle surroundings and the general eastern half of the city, the western half which stretched to the beaches of Lake Biwa (琵琶湖) came to be predominantly filled by commoners and became the commercial sector of Azuchi. By the 1620s, the population of Azuchi had grown to 280,000 and would overtake Kyoto as the biggest city in Japan within a few decades.​

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17th century depiction of Azuchi Castle and Lake Biwa​

In time, Azuchi would serve as the intersection of the three major highways of eastern Japan: the Tokaido, Nakasendo, and Hokurikudo. This, combined with the constant movements of daimyos and their retinues to and from the city and the flow of goods and people from Kyoto and Sakai, solidified Azuchi as the cultural cross-section of not only the entire realm but the outside powers which interacted the most with Japan, from Ming China to Spain and Portugal. This could be seen with the presence of a sizable Kirishitan population alongside newly built Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Nevertheless, Azuchi remained a samurai-dominated city as the seat of the Daijo-fu, with the castle serving as both the residence of the Daijo-daijin and his immediate family and the halls of politics and administration. Meanwhile, daimyo clan and vassal residences served similar roles on a smaller scale, with even inns and lodgings being the scene of political intrigue.

Touching the Seto Inland Sea was Sakai, the mercantile and commercial epicenter of the realm. Ascending to economic prominence during the 16th century as a semi-independent city governed by merchants, it maintained that status under Oda rule, lagging only slightly behind Azuchi in terms of population. It had the second largest percentage of foreigners among its populace and multiple languages and peoples could be heard and seen among its streets and shops, with a significant Kirishitan minority residing within city borders as well. Sakai’s harbor was packed with ships from all over Japan, East and Southeast Asia, and Europe, with goods from Ezo bear furs to Portuguese wine pouring into the city. It also served as an important pitstop for the Azuchi navy, which was headquartered nearby in Hyogo.​

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16th century depiction of Sakai​

Sakai’s size and prosperity benefitted from the role merchants played in its governance. While Nobunaga had stripped the city of its semi-thalassocratic government in 1570 and assigned a magistrate, merchants like Imai Soukyuu (今井宗久) and Sen Soueki (千宗易) [1] continued to serve as key advisors and maintained trust among commoners and shopkeepers. This collaborative environment was key in unifying the people of Sakai when ex-Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki and his army besieged the city in 1583, where non-samurai volunteers participated in the fighting. This system came under threat under Saito Yoshioki’s tyranny when magistrate Ban Tomoharu (塙友治) reined in on some of the merchants’ long-standing privileges, resulting in political friction and some economic damage, although his successor Sugaya Nobuyori (菅屋信頼) fortunately reversed these policy changes. By the 1620s, Sakai’s population sat around 250,000, its population growth so great the city had begun to expand beyond its inner moat and fuel the growth of surrounding exurbs including Osaka.

Between Azuchi and Sakai lay Kyoto, which had rebounded after the cessation of nearby spillover conflict throughout the 16th century, being the largest city in the realm at 300,000 residents by the 1620s. This allowed the proper rebuilding of damaged temples and shrines and aided in the renewal of Kyoto’s cultural significance. Kyoto became host to bustling commercial activity once again, with luxury goods particularly sought after. The same could not be said about its political authority. While Azuchi’s legitimacy relied on the emperor on paper, in practice the imperial court had little say in politics outside its urban vicinity. Even in Kyoto, Nijo Castle (二条城) stood as a reminder that no part of Japan could truly override Azuchi’s authority as the headquarters of the Kyoto Shoshidai and the Oda clan’s Kyoto lodgings.​

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Portrait of Emperor Go-Mizunoo, a powerless sovereign​

Compared to Sakai and Azuchi, Kyoto had a significantly smaller Kirishitan population due to Kyoto’s deep Shinto-Buddhist roots and Kyoto’s population greater wariness towards outsiders. On the other hand, Kyoto became the site of the first interactions between Japanese and Siamese Buddhist monks and the city itself would proportionally attract more visitors from Ming China, Joseon, and other parts of Asia.

The combined political, economic, and cultural might of the three cities was the engine the Oda Chancellorate ran on in controlling and keeping together the Yamato realm through both the individual strengths of Azuchi, Kyoto, and Sakai and their cross-interactions. It was these three urban epicenters that would define Japan for decades to come. [2]

[1]:
Sen no Rikyuu’s (千利休) old name

[2]: I expect people to ask about Kamakura, so to give an update Kamakura is the 4th largest city in Japan at 130,000.​
 
Great detail for the three most important cities of Japan and their epicenters plus their groups.

Let's hope that in the future authority can be centralized more and that the Emperor rises to be more than a figurehead for the Oda Clan, after all the future line will share blood with them.
 
Looking at a map to see where those cities are in Japan it really appears like a convenient axis for a megacity to develop along.
It'll be more like a megalopolis than a contiguous megacity; Azuchi and Kyoto will eventually arrive at their limits as the economic activity that temples and clan offices concentrate and give will only get them so far. I suspect that the two cities' merchant quarters will be far less extragavant than how OTL Edo had been simply due to standing on a much smaller economic base to begin with, at least in terms of land and local finances.

So - Southeastern England, every one?
 
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Chapter 34: Casus Belli

Chapter 34: Casus Belli

After the 1622 siege of Macau and the subsequent Ming-Dutch conflict over the Pescadores, the Spanish grew concerned over their access to Ming trade via the Portuguese in Macau and the Japanese in Sakai and Nagasaki. The decline of Portuguese power in Asia amidst the Dutch-Portuguese war, which saw the Dutch increasingly gain the upper hand, only added to Spain’s anxieties in the region. In 1625, Fernando de Silva, interim governor-general of the Philippines, proposed establishing a Spanish presence in southern Bireitou to King Philip III, as that part of the island lay outside Japanese control and would be close to both Macau and the Ming coast, where the Spanish could expect exchanges with Chinese smugglers and Japanese merchants. He would gain approval a few months later. On May 11th, 1626, an expedition under Sergeant Major Antonio Carreno de Valdes landed on the southwestern coast and would subsequently begin construction on the fortress of San Salvador.

It didn’t take long before news of San Salvador reached Iriebashi and Azuchi, and reactions ranged from shock and alarm to even calls for war. Among the war hawks were Oda Tadataka, the pro-Dutch Shimazu Nagahisa, and the heir Nobutomo himself, although they were a vocal minority who would be restrained by the chancellor, his uncle Kitabatake Nobuoki, and naval magistrate Kuki Moritaka, who were fearful of Spanish-Portuguese military power. Nevertheless, there was unanimity in taking some sort of action against the Spanish for violating Japan’s territorial claims and influence on the island. After much discussion, Spanish trading rights and privileges in the realm were suspended and talks with the Dutch began on a possible defensive alliance. Back in Bireitou, Oda Tadahide would send his cousin Norishige (織田則重) [1] south with a force of a few hundred to establish an inland castle, later known as Momoyama Castle (桃山城) to expand Japanese power and influence into the southern part of the island and monitor Spanish activities on Bireitou. Reports on progress of Fort San Salvador’s construction from spies flowed from Momoyama to Iriebashi and then to Azuchi. In Iriebashi itself, the naval presence was increased to intercept any Spanish ships in the area.​

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Modern-day replica model of Fort San Salvador​

In early 1627, Manila sent 2 ships to Nagasaki in an attempt to repair relations and resume trade relations with Azuchi but were refused landing and forced to leave. On their way back, one of them was intercepted by the Japanese warship Iwakura-maru (岩倉丸), its crew detained, questioned, and escorted to Iriebashi under suspicions of an impending Spanish attack on Japanese holdings in southern Bireitou. This incident would see war nearly break out as San Salvador went on high alert, and it was only through Tadataka’s swift release of the Spanish ship that conflict was averted. A few months later, Ikeda Masatora and ex-Philippines governor Fernando de Silva met in Iriebashi where they signed a series of agreements that resolved matters: in return for Azuchi recognition of San Salvador and restitution over the Spanish ship detainment, Spanish trade in Japan would be restricted to Nagasaki and Iriebashi and further expansion on the island would be forbidden, with other European powers including the Dutch also implicitly banned from building outposts on Bireitou.

The 1627 Bireitou agreements, however, failed to contain suspicions and rebuild trust between Manila and Azuchi. De Tabora, now fully aware of Japan’s naval and land-based military strength, would request and receive reinforcements from New Spain as he also began to train more Filipinos as auxiliary troops in preparations of a feared Japanese invasion. Similarly, Tadataka incorporated more Han Chinese settlers and indigenous vassals as infantry equipped with arquebusiers, bows, and long spears to resist a potential Spanish invasion. Spain would also begin to involve itself in the internal affairs of Siam as they sent advisors to support the young king Athittayawong, reduce Japanese political and economic influence in the kingdom, and make up for lost revenue from Japan’s new trade restrictions.​

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Portrait of the teenage Siamese king Athittayawong, a puppet of anti-Japanese Siamese nobles and Spanish advisors​

Nevertheless, a pro-peace agenda was still advocated by Azuchi against the wishes of a hawkish minority. However, fate would induce changes as certain key figures would pass away. In 1629, Naritoshi, formerly Nobunaga’s favorite page from decades past, died at the age of 64. Then in 1630, Kitabatake Nobuoki’s passing at 72 would be followed by the death of the chancellor Nobunori himself. With his passing came the ascendance of a very different type of chancellor as Oda Nobutomo, aged 29, was made the new daijo-daijin.

Although hawkish, Nobutomo was nevertheless a pragmatist who sought to build towards a long-term defensive alliance with the Dutch, which was in the works, and court diplomatic goodwill among smaller nations in Southeast Asia to counterbalance Spanish expansionary schemes in the region while also emphasizing naval readiness in case of conflict. That conflict would be triggered by an Oda spy living in Dilao for years who had obtained copies of correspondence between Manila and Madrid in 1630 and snuck onto a ship headed to Japan early the next year. In these letters to the Spanish king, de Tabora elaborated on ideas to squeeze Japan out of Southeast Asia economically and diplomatically and eventually take all of Bireitou, including a plan to influence Kirishitan leaders as well as the Omura and Arima clans to betray the Oda, describing Japan as a direct threat that needed to be tamed to allow Spanish expansion in the region to proceed unimpeded. He even referred to earlier writings on Oda Nobuhide the Younger's visit to Manila in 1597, noting how compared to back then when Japan was already a potential threat that the realm had progressed and expanded significantly.

Upon reading the translated correspondence, Nobutomo knew something needed to be done. He convened a secret meeting of the Sangi-shu without haste and with some discussion determined on a course of action. In April 1631, Oda Tadataka returned to Bireitou in what seemed like a customary trip but quickly gathered all of his major vassals to deliver a simple message: take San Salvador from the Spanish.

With Japanese messengers also sailing to the Dutch, the English, and the Maguindanao sultanate, the stage was set for the Iberian-Japanese War.​


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Ceremonial portrait of Oda Nobutomo

Members of the Sangi-shu 1601-1630

Orange-Oda clan members
Blue-Nobility
Bold-Incumbent

Oda vassals:
Mori Nagayoshi (森長可): 1586-1605
Maeda Geni (前田玄以): 1599-1602
Sakuma Morimasa (佐久間盛政): 1600-1619
Horio Yoshiharu (堀尾吉晴) 1601-1611
Murai Sadanari (村井貞成): 1601-1614
Horiuchi Ujiyoshi (堀内氏善): 1602-1615
Takigawa Kazutada (滝川一忠): 1605-1615
Hashiba Hidetsugu (羽柴秀次): 1611-1623
Nagaoka Tadaoki (長岡忠興): 1614-
Shibata Katsumasa (柴田勝政) 1615-1616
Kawajiri Shigeyuki (河尻鎮行) 1615-1627
Sassa Katsuyuki (佐々勝之): 1616-
Mori Naritoshi (森成利): 1619-1629
Kuki Moritaka (九鬼守隆): 1623-
Inaba Michikatsu (稲葉通勝): 1627-
Niwa Nagashige (丹羽長重): 1629-


Tozama daimyo:
Shimazu Yoshihisa (島津義久): 1587-1602
Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康): 1584-1616
Miyoshi Nobutaka (三好信孝): 1585-1621
Mouri Terumoto (毛利輝元): 1584-1625
Date Masamune (伊達政宗): 1599-
Shimazu Nagahisa (島津長久): 1602-
Nagao Kagehiro (長尾景広): 1616-1630 [2]
Satake Yoshinobu (佐竹義宣): 1621-
Ukita Nobuie (宇喜多信家): 1625-


Other:
Kajuuji Harutoyo (勧修寺晴豊): 1584-1603
Kitabatake Nobuoki (北畠信意): 1584-1630 [2]
Oda Nobukane (織田信包): 1593-1614
Oda Nobunori (織田信則): 1599-1609

Hirohashi Kanekatsu (広橋兼勝): 1603-1623
Oda Nagamasu (織田長益): 1614-1622
Oda Nobutomo (織田信朝): 1619-1630
[3]
Oda Tadataka (織田忠高): 1620-
Oda Toshimasa (織田利昌): 1620-
Sanjonishi Saneeda (三条西実条): 1623-


Kyoto Shoshidai:
Asano Nagamasa (浅野長政): 1592-1602
Kyogoku Takatsugu (京極高次): 1602-1609
Sugaya Katsuyori (菅屋勝頼): 1609-1616
Nagaoka Okimoto (長岡興元): 1616-1619
Hijikata Okiuji (土方意氏): 1619-

Azuchi bugyo (magistrates):
Mori Naritoshi (森成利): 1592-1605
Ogasawara Hidemasa (小笠原秀政): 1605-1615
Sato Tsugunari (佐藤継成): 1615-1619
Ban Yasutomo (塙安友): 1619-1629
Sugaya Nobuyori (菅屋信頼): 1629-

Oometsu-shoku (inspector general):
Asano Nagamasa (浅野長政): 1602-1607
Saito Yoshioki (斎藤義興): 1607-1619
Hori Chikayoshi (堀親良): 1619-

Kamakura Tandai:
Oda Toshimasa (織田利昌): 1596-

Bireitou governors:
Oda Nobutaka (織田信高): 1597-1603
Oda Tadataka (織田忠高): 1603-
[1]: Norishige is Oda Nobutaka’s son.

[2]: Became daijo-daijin in 1630

[3]: Died in 1630
 
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I do wanna see how this will affect the Philippines. Considering the Philippines is next to Taiwan, if Japan wins the war, I could see them expanding into northern Philippines and eventually the whole of the Philippines. I could see their Buddhist monks come into the region and attempt to spread Buddhism to the locals too. Also probably the locals would switch to writing in Kana.
 
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