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Nobuyuki Sanada
Nobuyuki-sw4art
Character Information
Clan(s)/Alliance(s): Sanada
Tokugawa
Eastern Army
Height:
188 cm (6'2")
Weapon(s): Dual katana
Heirloom:
Sanada Flag
Moveset Type:
Hyper
Significant Battle(s):
Playable Debut: Samurai Warriors 4
Historical Information
Real name:
Sanada Nobuyuki
Japanese name:
真田 信之
Born:
1566
Died:
November 12, 1658
Personally signed his name with his father's character (信幸) until he became lord of the Ueda Domain and Numata Castle.

Nobuyuki Sanada is the fifth head of the Sanada family. He is Masayuki's second child, meaning that he is Lady Muramatsu's younger biological brother and Yukimura's older biological brother. Thanks to his political marriage with Ina and his servitude to Hidetada, Nobuyuki allowed his family name and influence to outlive the Warring States period.

Before his playable Samurai Warriors appearance, he was a generic NPC since the first title. He's voted as the fifth most popular character according to the Samurai Warriors 4 poll. In the first character popularity poll for Sengoku Musou Shoot, he was voted to thirteenth place with players. This counterpart has three character image songs: Ouju ga Gotoku, Omoi Uta, and a duet with Yukimura called Akazonae Tenkaichi ~Sanada Kyodai Special Version~.

His Nobunaga's Ambition counterpart is thirty-fourth place in Gamecity's character popularity ranking for 2015. He placed nineteenth in the Nobunaga no Yabou Taishi poll for most favorite father.

Role in GamesEdit

Samurai WarriorsEdit

The non-playable Nobuyuki often appears on the Tokugawa side during the siege of Ueda Castle in this series. He is usually listed under as one objectives in the stage during Yukimura's story mode. The brothers, tied to their respective duties, apologize and bravely face one another. Though enemies, they still recognize one another as family. When Ina is first introduced, Yukimura respectfully calls her "sister".

During Tadakatsu's story mode in Samurai Warriors 2, the Tokugawa army attack Ueda Castle with Ieyasu as the main commander. At this time, Nobuyuki is still serving his family and is acting as one of the castle's defenders. He boldly challenges Tadakatsu to face him, which impresses the latter. After Nobuyuki's defeat, Tadakatsu remarks that he is an honest man and considers marrying him to his daughter.

He appears in the third title to again defend Ueda Castle from Ieyasu's siege. The bravery demonstrated by him and his family lands him in a favorable light by the Tokugawa invaders. Nobuyuki also leads the defense of Numata Castle against the Sanada.

Nobuyuki is one of the unique generals who appears in 100man-nin no Sengoku Musou. An easy-going gentleman who is often seen smiling, he strives to live up to his father's expectations whilst fondly supporting his younger brother. Though somewhat pacifistic, he won't hesitate to arm himself for battle.

His playable counterpart is Shingen's favorite disciple. He has spent his entire childhood training with Yukimura under the cherry trees of their home, dreaming to someday live up to the Sanada name and to always protect Yukimura. The brothers begin their career serving the Takeda like their forefathers and fight for Shingen and Katsuyori at Kawanakajima, Suruga, Mikatagahara, Nagashino, Katsugayama Castle and Mount Tenmoku. Their fighting capabilities impress Nobunaga enough to permit them to keep their samurai prestige under the Oda. Honnōji provokes Ujiyasu's invasion towards the center. The brothers defend Kazumasu Takigawa, the Oda vassal in charge of Kai, at Kanagawa but fail to completely drive back the Hōjō army. Their father, Masayuki, decides to have the family return to their home, Ueda Castle, after they are relieved of Oda servitude. The Sanada prove their tenacity against Ieyasu's invasion, thus leading to Nobuyuki's political marriage to Ina. The Tokugawa and Sanada's submission to the tycoon, Hideyoshi, leads to their obligation to support the Toyotomis at Oshu and Oshi Castle.

Early within these campaigns, Nobuyuki realizes that Nobushige's death has greatly affected Shingen's emotional state. Shingen forces himself to keep with his conquests in his brother's memory, yet Nobuyuki feels he could never bring himself to follow his lord's example and wishes to avoid suffering the same feeling. As he motivates himself to protect his younger brother, the elder Sanada brother questions the meanings of death. When he witnesses the Tokugawa retainers sacrificing themselves for Ieyasu's escape, Nobuyuki asks Shingen for guidance and learns from his elder of Ieyasu's leadership and empathy. Respecting their departed lord's advice and memory, Nobuyuki ponders the Tokugawa lord's unfaltering justifications for unification during his duties.

The destruction of the Takeda and Oda has Nobuyuki discover that stability is the most imperative quality needed for surviving the era of wars; he draws from his experiences to deem Ieyasu as the most logical candidate for protecting the Sanada's future. Mitsunari's vision and his friendship with Yukimura from his observations at Oshi Castle causes Nobuyuki to worry that his brother would die for a lost cause. He therefore wishes to decline Mitsunari's letter for assistance for the Sekigahara campaign, an act which Yukimura thinks betrays their family's samurai integrity. Unable to convince his brother to join Ieyasu during the second siege of Ueda Castle, Nobuyuki regretfully stays true to his own resolve to protect their family's future. He prevents Yukimura from slaying Ieyasu at Osaka Castle and, despite his best efforts, experiences his greatest fear when his brother rushes to his death. Nobuyuki mournfully swears to live and protect the cherry blossoms –the flowers of Yukimura's life– after the battle's conclusion.

His 4-II focal story begins with Nobuyuki as Sanada clan head. He has called upon neighboring allies to defend his family's home, Ueda Castle. The night before the siege he defends himself from Ina's assassination attempt, the duo impressed with one another's resolve. With the help of his comrades, Nobuyuki has Ieyasu on the run and pursues him personally. Rather than fear for his life, Ieyasu disarms his young foe with fair praise as a leader and pioneer for peace.

When Hideyoshi's influences inevitably brings the two clans into his service, Ieyasu happily has Nobuyuki and Ina wed as a sign of friendship. The future of the Sanada clan is secured with their union. Nobuyuki enjoys his brother's newfound independence and his wife's company, but cannot shake his anxieties regarding the Toyotomi's divided leadership during the Odawara Castle siege. Ieyasu suspects that Nobuyuki shares his sentiments and privately extends a secret pact with the Tokugawa. Despite his love for his brother, Nobuyuki places Ieyasu's vision of unification as a higher priority. He firmly agrees to do whatever it takes for lasting peace and steels himself to become his brother's enemy.

As they have predicted, the land is split into two with Hideyoshi's death. Nobuyuki honors his oath by fighting his brother at Ueda Castle. He personally defeats Yukimura in a duel but spares him when given the chance to execute him. Nobuyuki has Yukimura held captive in Hidetada's army and, to make up for Hidetada's tardiness, makes haste towards Sekigahara with Ina. He hopes to use his exploits to solidify amnesty for Yukimura's life. To his joy, the married couple do arrive in time to provide significant assistance to the Eastern Army's victory. Nobuyuki pleads for Yukimura's exile which is dully granted. Yet Yukimura escapes his last chance of forgiveness years later to fight at Osaka Castle. Accepting the truth, Nobuyuki can't spare Yukimura again and his brother is killed in battle. Though Ina weeps for the brothers, Nobuyuki entreats her to smile as he knows Yukimura died content.

In Spirit of Sanada, the young Nobuyuki begins his service as a vassal under his father. In the Sanada clan's rise, he initially aids the Hōjō only for the Sanada to turn on them for the Tokugawa. This leads him to formally meet Ina for the first time. Once the clan is recognized by the Toyotomi, they spurn the Tokugawa and find themselves sieged at Ueda. Coming out victorious, Nobuyuki marries Ina and the two help contribute to the Hōjō's downfall, allowing the Toyotomi to unify the land.

Once Hideyoshi dies, Nobuyuki's conflict with Yukimura escalates and they bring their issues to Masayuki. Although Masayuki sides with Mitsunari, Nobuyuki is sent to the Tokugawa. Under Hidetada's command, and much to his displeasure, Nobuyuki proceeds to invade Ueda Castle. Despite insisting that their march to Sekigahara should take priority, Hidetada ignores him. As Nobuyuki predicted, they not only fail to take the castle but also lose sight of Sekigahara.

Even without their aid, Ieyasu still comes out victorious. With the lives of his brother and father at stake, Nobuyuki pleads to Ieyasu for their lives. Although Naomasa believes that both are too dangerous to be kept alive, Hidetada helps persuade his father to spare them. Nobuyuki subsequently takes control of the clan as a result. Participating in the winter siege of Ōsaka, Nobuyuki reaffirms his vow with Yukimura that the two should survive the war and watch over the Sanada together.

He desperately attempts to ensure his brother's survival by privately requesting Hidetada to show mercy. But despite Hidetada's best efforts, Yukimura remains defiant and later perishes in the conflict. Kunoichi returns Yukimura's three coins to a heartbroken Nobuyuki at the former's request. A year after the final battle, he continues to reminisce the good times he had with his brother while sharing the pain of those left behind by the fallen. The peace of the land, however, is threatened when the remaining Sengoku generals report rumors that Hidetada was corrupt and weak because of his overly high treatment of the Sanada given Yukimura and Masayuki's staunch resistance.

Called upon personally by Hidetada to talk and reminisce, Nobuyuki immediately asks for the shogun to exile the Sanada from Ueda for the sake of the land's stability and end the rumors. Reluctantly, Hidetada accepted Nobuyuki's proposal. Before leaving Ueda, Nobuyuki senses a presence and briefly meets a vision of Yukimura.

Warriors OrochiEdit

In Warriors Orochi, Nobuyuki sometimes serves as Yukimura's replacement officer when players assume his brother's role. Musou OROCHI Z has him do the same for Ina in one of the original dream stages.

Nobunaga's AmbitionEdit

Guruguru Dungeon Nobunyaga has Nobuyuki act as one of the key characters in the Sanyada Children's Day event. The protagonist's tea bowl resets time and eventually sends him/her to the Sanyada household prior to Nagashino. Nobuyuki is a young boy at this time, but he is calm and dignified compared to his energetic brother. He keeps an eye on the protagonist and Yukimura during their playdate. News of his uncle's death hits home, and Nobuyuki quickly realizes that the strict education for his future inheritance has ended his carefree days beside his younger brother. Before he endures his isolated training for the adult world, he entrusts the protagonist to deliver a message to Yukimura: no matter how far apart they are, the brothers shall always be together.

Neither brother has seen one another since their childhood separation which causes an adult Yukimura to yearn for a reunion when they are on opposing sides for the Sekigahara campaign. The protagonist convinces him to stop by delivering Nobuyuki's fond message to him. When the protagonist later learns he/she had been knocked out at the start of Nagashino by a Mikeda horseman, he/she wonders how much of his/her experiences with the Mikeda and Sanyada were real.

Character InformationEdit

DevelopmentEdit

Koinuma commented that Nobuyuki was adapted into a playable character since he was in high demand with Samurai Warriors fans online. He hopes Nobuyuki's introduction can be used to create more depth and background for the Sanada clan since Yukimura is the main protagonist of the series. From start to finish, he was a difficult character for the developers to design and create. Designers noted that Nobuyuki originally shared the same hair color as Yukimura; they didn't have their eureka moment for his design until they gave him silver hair. His hairclip is meant to be a rearrangement of his historical helmet. The main theme for his character is sibling conflict.

PersonalityEdit

Unlike his rash younger brother, Nobuyuki is a pragmatic warrior with damning intuition. As the future leader of his clan, he seeks to always maintain his family's integrity with dutiful and stunning perfection. The commanders of the era have supreme trust in his tactics and reputation. Yet Nobuyuki privately broods over the repercussions of his decisions, unable to determine whether his actions are truly just. If he feels something will endanger his lord or loved ones, however, Nobuyuki seeks to extinguish his ties to it at once. He gradually chooses to detach his feelings from his judgment to focus on the logical conclusions of his actions. Nobuyuki speaks with an orderly, diplomatic lingual in the Japanese script to contrast his brother.

Nobuyuki adores his younger brother and is always stressing himself to protect him. He chastises his brother's recklessness and rejoices Yukimura's deeds with open if formal praise. At the same time, Nobuyuki suffers from an inferiority complex, feeling that his brother's indomitable warrior spirit far outclasses anything he could ever accomplish. Unable to let go of their happier and simpler childhood, Nobuyuki subconsciously wishes to remain as his brother's reliable idol through his actions. He chooses to hide his personal weaknesses from Yukimura in his debut to avoid worrying him. The brothers instinctively understand one another in his latest story.

Ieyasu's perceptions for the future is the first to intellectually challenge him, compounding his inner dilemma regarding the war and leadership. Later in the era, Nobuyuki gradually respects Ieyasu and Ina for their devotion to him. When Ina catches onto his anxieties, he appreciates his wife's emotional support. During his playable debut, he acknowledges her with reserved adoration. He is warmer and forthright with his devotion towards her in his latest appearance.

Character SymbolismEdit

In the Samurai Warriors series, he is symbolized by the kanji for "tolerance" (寛) and "heart" (心) and by cherry blossom petals. While his younger brother follows the theatrical and common samurai image for the flower petals, Nobuyuki's association with them is tied to the home of Sanada independence, Ueda Castle. The castle continues to be famous for cherry blossoms, which are believed to have been planted during the Edo period, to this day. The original Japanese script alludes to the reference by linking Nobuyuki's convictions to "a tree trunk" (幹, miki).

His default weapon is named after yin-yang. His third weapon in Chronicles 3 continues the contrasting motif with heaven and earth as its namesake.

Nobuyuki's rare weapon can be interpreted in one of two ways. The first two characters can be translated as "sun and moon". The alternate reading can be "dawning sun". When paired with the two characters which follow it, it figuratively means he will guard the new age to honor the memories of those who have perished. Either meaning is meant to contrast the short-lived warrior image seen in Yukimura's symbolism. From a historical perspective, an elderly Nobuyuki was respected by his younger peers in the Edo period as one of the few surviving veterans who lived and fought during the Warring States period, a time which was so alien and distant to them.

His DLC weapon alludes to Hataki no Tsurugi, a legendary archaic sword in Japanese history. Both it and the Seven Star Blade was allegedly given to Kudaranomiko from Chinese envoys during the Asuka period. Hataki no Tsurugi was kept within the imperial palace and entrusted to loyal vassals to the emperor. It is argued to have been a spiritual or ritual sword, a Chinese sword, or a curved long sword. The sword was lost, recovered by the court during the Heian period, and remains lost to this day.

Nobuyuki's heirloom could be referring to the story of his own banners. He is reported to have had them assembled in a different manner than his brother and father to distinguish himself on the field by using black cloth and golden paint for their clan's code of arms. His sons later rode under the same flags at Osaka Castle, which led to another story about them. Nobuyuki using banners with the Sanada emblem may also be a historical reference to him having the right to use them. Despite what folklore and fiction says, Nobushige (Yukimura) did not historically use the six coins during his final stand at Osaka Castle since his meager rank as an exile and outlaw did not give him the right.

Spirit of Sanada has Japanese freshwater crabs act as one of his favorite gifts.

Voice ActorsEdit

  • Jason Moran - Samurai Warriors 2 (English)
  • J. Michael Tatum - Samurai Warriors TV series (English)
  • Morgan Berry - Samurai Warriors TV series, as a child (English)
  • Tony Oliver - Warriors Orochi (English-uncredited)
  • Robert Steudtner - Samurai Warriors TV series (German)
  • Takeshi Kusao - Samurai Warriors 2 (Japanese)
  • Shinichi Yamada - Samurai Warriors 3 (Japanese)
  • Daisuke Ono - Samurai Warriors 4 (Japanese)
  • Jun Shikano - Samurai Warriors 4, as a child (Japanese)

Live Action PerformersEdit

QuotesEdit

See also Nobuyuki Sanada/Quotes
  • "I'll hold the enemy here!"
  • "I still think Yukimura should have been higher, but he is higher than me in the rankings. That's worth celebrating. Let bygones be bygones and focus on what's important. ...That's all I need."
  • "I wonder how the audience feels as I race against Yukimura today..."
  • "Ina, you may be the daughter of Tadakatsu Honda... I apologize that I cannot show you any favors. Please forgive me if I treat you in a way unbecoming of your situation. I am rudely fashioned and have not the poet's tongue."
"As you say, I am a warrior. Please deal with me as you would any other soldier. Besides... I know that my father would respect a man... A man such as yourself, Lord Nobuyuki, of unembellished sincerity."
~~Nobuyuki and Ina; Samurai Warriors 2: Empires
  • "Hey, Yukimura's brother! I hear you like your brother way too much, and that you're always saying Yukimura this and Yukimura that."
"While I do like Yukimura quite a bit, I don't always say Yukimura this and Yukimura that all the time. Yukimura isn't all I talk about."
"Yukimura, Yukimura, Yukimura... On and on! Yukimura's brother, quit saying Yukimura this and Yukimura that!"
"Hey, you're saying Yukimura this and Yukimura that way more than Yukimura's brother, man. Right, Yukimura's brother?"
"Yukimura's just tends to be talked about a lot. As Yukimura's brother, I'm always proud to hear about him."
~~Masanori, Nobuyuki, and Katsuie; Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3
  • "You're the young hot-head who succeeded the red garb of the Takeda? I hate to say it, but red suits Yukimura far better."
"Your taunts aren't needed. Either way, it is my duty to defeat the eldest son of the Sanada."
~~Nobuyuki and Naomasa; Samurai Warriors 4-II
  • "What reckless folly! You fight a war you cannot win!"
"No matter what you say, I shall remain. I won't hold back, even against a lovely maiden such as yourself."
"Wha-! Please don't think you can tease me so! Women are led astray by lewd men like you! I, Ina, shall deliver punishment unto you!"
"Ina, you said? Even your name is exquisite."
"!? Un-Unacceptable! I'll never forgive you!"
"I was just praising you, but now you're angry with me... Why are you like this?"
~~Ina and Nobuyuki; 100man-nin no Sengoku Musou

GameplayEdit

MovesetEdit

『戦国無双4』 真田信之

『戦国無双4』 真田信之

Keys: Square Normal Attack • Tri Charge AttackCircle MusouX Jump/Mount

Charge MovesetEdit

Square, Tri, (Tri): Does an upward swing, then another sending a tornado forward.
Square, Square, Tri, (Tri): Moves forward with a thrust, and then slams his sword into the ground with a shockwave.
Square, Square, Square, Tri, (Tri): Charges through with a slash, and then creates a tornado with his sword by spinning it above his head in a helicopter motion. He finishes by sending forth a small horizontal sword beam.
Square, Square, Square, Square, Tri, (Tri): Slashes rapidly in front of himself, and then unleashes a horizontal circular wave of fire.
Square, Square, Square, Square, Square, Square, Square, Square: Slashes down left, right, up left and down left. Then slashes up right, left, and right. Then finishes with a slash down left.

Hyper MovesetEdit

Tri:
Tri, Square: Nobuyuki twirls and swings his sword up.
Tri, Tri, Square: Nobuyuki spins and slashes a wave of energy forward.
Tri, Tri, Tri, Square: Nobuyuki slashes two times making several aura slashes in front of him.
Tri, Tri, Tri, Tri, Square: Nobuyuki moves forward doing two circular slashes with both ends of his sword.
Tri, Tri, Tri, Tri, Tri, Square: Spins his sword around himself while it is on fire.
Tri, Tri, Tri, Tri, Tri,Tri, Square: Nobuyuki ignites his sword on fire and throws it. It orbits around him in a circle once, before returning to his hands like a boomerang.
Tri, Tri, Tri, Tri, Tri, Tri, Tri, Tri:
Running + Square:
X, Tri:
X, Square:
Circle: Rapidly slashes sword while standing in place. He then makes a wind tunnel, then finishes with a shockwave.
Circle (Ultimate/Kaiden): Nobuyuki jumps into the air and generates three large tornadoes.
Rage Attack/Musou Gokui effect: Wind element added to his attacks. Activates Ultimate/Kaidan Musou if Circle is used. Poses if the effect ends without activating Ultimate/Kaidan Musou.
Spirit Cancel:
Deadlock Attack & Mighty Strike: Slashes to the right then spins and does a downward swing.
R1:
Awakened Skill effect (4-II only):

Mounted MovesetEdit

Square, Tri:
Square, Square, Tri:
Square, Square, Square, Tri:
Square, Square, Square, Square, Square, Square, Square, Square:

Fighting StyleEdit

WeaponsEdit

See also: Nobuyuki Sanada/Weapons

Samurai Warriors: Spirit of SanadaEdit

Yin Yang Blades
Default Weapon - Nobuyuki Sanada (SW4) Base Attack: 15~35
Day & Night Blades
Rare Weapon - Nobuyuki Sanada (SW4) Base Attack: 263 Ice: 84 Wind: 77
Fire: 77 Attack Up: 86 Indirect Attack: 81
Fury: 83 Verity: 90 Momentum: 85
Guardian Cleaver
DLC Weapon - Nobuyuki Sanada (SW4) Base Attack: 270 Lightning: 87 Fire: 80
Earth: 80 Attack Up: 89 Attack Range: 93
Courage: 86 Insight: 84 Clarity: 91


Rare Weapon AcquisitionEdit

  • Stage: Siege of Ueda - Assault on Kamikawa

Historical InformationEdit

Nobuyuki-sanadaportrait

Portrait currently housed at The Sanada Treasures Museum. A younger portrait of him is housed at Daihoji.

Personal InfoEdit

Sanada Nobuyuki was the eldest son of Sanada Masayuki and Yamanote-dono, Masayuki's known wife. As the eldest legitimate son, he was named Masayuki's heir and later the clan head.

Edo and Meiji period folklore lionize Nobuyuki as much as his father and younger brother. He is often depicted as a shrewd and cunning man with a godly intellect that rivaled his father's. He was a mighty and hot-blooded warrior who towered at six shaku, one sun (185 cm or 6'1"). Even in battles where he was named a commander and expected to order his men away from danger, he would always arm himself and fearlessly take to the front lines. Though known to be wise, Nobuyuki had frightening episodes of sudden anger. When he learned that the shogunate approved Sengoku Tadamasa's transfer to Ueda without consulting him, Nobuyuki personally burned all of Tadamasa's legal documents. Alternatively, Nobuyuki hid Tadamasa's documents in the same place that he had kept his letters with Ishida Mitsunari. Nobuyuki's sentiments towards Mitsunari had soured before Sekigahara, so much so that he wanted any ties to him to be destroyed. He only stayed his hand out of respect to his aunt being married to Mitsunari (which has been argued to be false). The destruction of either papers would have been bothersome to him if found so he kept them hidden in a lacquered box that kept an allegedly cursed dagger that Ieyasu had gifted him, knowing that the box's fanciful reputation would have deterred people from opening it.

Another fictional story regarding Nobuyuki's purported rage occurred when Nobushige left his exile in 1612. Nobuyuki wanted to keep tabs on his brother and employed the task to Baba Mondo, a Sanada shinobi. Mondo assisted the brothers' secret communication with one another. When the Osaka Campaign took place, however, Mondo lost his nerve for war and fled. While on the run, he raped a farmer's daughter and was reported to shogunate authorities. His existence led to rising suspicions of Nobuyuki colluding with the Toyotomis. Hearing the rumors made Nobuyuki incensed and order for Mondo's immediate assassination. Variations of the narrative may state that Nobuyuki personally hunted for Mondo and, once the shinobi was caught, he insulted the shinobi in his fury before personally executing him. Nobuyuki addressed suspicions about his loyalty by coldly declaring that he would commit suicide if proven guilty; his detractors were so frightened by the fierceness of his pledge that they dropped charges.

Historical accounts of Nobuyuki agree that he was skilled in war and strategy, but not to the degree found in folklore. Unlike the myths written about him, his successes were in his practical and methodical approach to conflicts. Nobuyuki would be open-minded to suggestions from any who served him, including those without a rank. If bloodless deception could work, he would use it. Nobuyuki preferred to conduct himself in a prudent and conservative manner while on the job, taking every measure and procedure with absolute consideration and seriousness. While his legendary counterpart was noted to use his stature to boldly intimidate his rivals, the real Nobuyuki would be plagued with illnesses throughout his adulthood. There were many days where he would be bedridden or attempting to treat himself with a carefully planned series of thermal baths. Recovery efforts for his health were entrusted to his acquaintances and personal retainers. Outside of the court, Nobuyuki was noted to be witty, benevolent, and pleasant. An elderly Nobuyuki would gladly regale the Edo period youth with his war stories. Many of his retainers and admirers respected him as "a true lord worthy of serving."

Nobuyuki was known to be friends with Mitsunari, Tokugawa Hidetada, and Maeda Toshimasu. After he received her mentoring with literature and poetry, he shared poetic letters of friendship with the first Otsu no Ono.

His name during his youth was Genzaburō (源三郎), and his adult alias was Ittōsai (一当斎). His first wife was Sanada Nobutsuna's daughter and his cousin, Seion'in. After Nobuyuki's marriage to Komatsuhime, the Sanada family records were later edited to favor Komatsuhime as his first wife and cut Seion'in's sole mention to being his eldest son's mother. Two of his debatable concubines were Ukyō no Tsubone, Tamagawa Hidemasa's daughter, and a nameless handmaiden serving his manor. He is the accredited father to six children, his successor being his second son, Nobumasa, and his illegitimate child said to have been Dōkyō Etan.

Early LifeEdit

Nothing is concretely written about Nobuyuki's infancy. It is assumed that since Masayuki was the third son and not a candidate for clan head, Nobuyuki had lived a normal childhood and would have possibly been raised to follow his father's footsteps as a Takeda retainer.

His uncles' sudden deaths at Nagashino led to the Sanada clan being leaderless. While Nobutsuna's will stated that leadership should be passed onto Masateru's descendants, Masayuki's family records argued that the present circumstances could not to allow it. His older brother's children were ruling the distant Fukui Domain, and the gap left by Nagashino was too immediate to be left empty for long. Takeda Katsuyori sided with Masayuki on the matter. On his orders, a ten-year-old Nobuyuki was swiftly married to Nobutsuna's daughter to ensure that Masayuki's descendants would be deemed legitimate heirs. To ensure Masayuki's loyalty to Katsuyori, Nobuyuki and his mother were sent to be hostages to the Takeda.

In November 1579, Nobuyuki was granted his right to manhood ceremony with Katsuyori's son, Nobukatsu. The "Nobu" in his name is argued to be granted either in the late Shingen's honor or under Nobunaga's name in Katsuyori's attempt to appease the temporary Takeda-Oda peace treaty. By this time, the Sanada family records recognized Nobuyuki as the clan successor, addressing him as "Young Lord".

Three years later, the Takeda ranks fell against the Oda. Nobuyuki and his mother fled and returned to Masayuki in Ueda. Soon after Honnōji, a civil war regarding the ownership of the Takeda legacy and Oda influence within the east began. Masayuki initially supported the Hōjō to defeat Takigawa Kazumasu at Kannagawa. He made the 17-year-old Nobuyuki a commander for the conflict with command of his own unit. Nobuyuki was reportedly locked out of the loop regarding the nature of the conflict and was confused into a standstill. Once Toshimasu informed him that Nobunaga had died, Nobuyuki readied himself to assist his father's forces.

Around the same time, Uesugi Kagekatsu caused confusion by arriving with troops at Kaizu Castle. Convinced by Yoda Nobushige and Sanada Nobutada, Masayuki decided to claim independence and fought the Hōjō forces. While Masayuki dealt with the Uesugi, Nobuyuki led 700 calvary to counter the Hōjō supporter, Tominaga Shuzen, at Numata. To save their allies against their enemy's force of 5,000, Nobuyuki ordered Sanada retainer Karasawa Genba to ride ahead and lay troops in ambush. Paranoid by the Sanada's tactics, the Hōjō kept their eyes to the front and held themselves in place at Tengomaru Castle. Meanwhile, Nobuyuki ordered a smaller special unit to infiltrate the northern wing of Tengomaru Castle. Their mission was to set fire to the keep while spreading the lie that it was caused by a traitor. With the Hōjō ranks turning against one another in the chaos, Nobuyuki then led the charge with 50 men and armed himself with a spear for the fight. The Sanada efforts took out 100 men, and their guerrilla tactics led to Tengomaru Castle's brisk defeat.

Nobuyuki would continue to support his father in his plans for Sanada independence, including the assassination of Muroga Masatake.

Ties to TokugawaEdit

Despite temporary treaties being made, open aggression for the Sanada ignited again when Tokugawa Ieyasu tried to move into the Kai region in 1585. By then, the Sanada were independent so Masayuki banned his entry on the grounds that a treaty did not grant him ownership to any Sanada property. While Ieyasu withdrew to Hanamatsu, Masayuki negotiated with the Uesugi to reinforce his stand against the incoming Tokugawa-Hōjō alliance. Masayuki stationed himself at Ueda Castle by the middle of the year.

Ieyasu employed Sugihara Nagauji as a general, who looted from the neighboring villages around Shioda Castle and set up a fort at the foot of Komayumi Mountain. Nobuyuki was stationed with an approximate 300 men at Toishi Castle, one of the supporting fortifications for the battle. According to a letter written by Nobuyuki, he was just mounting his horse when he was approached by a man named Mizuide Daizō, the head of the stables. Daizō said the following to Nobuyuki: "The front of this castle looks solid, but the back parts of it are missing. So you should have the infantry shoot from the back so we can use the front for cover." He acted on Daizō's plan and his suggestion to raise multiple war cries to distract their opponents with the mountain's echo during the attack, leading to a Sanada victory. Nobuyuki would later remark that Daizō's observations about their surroundings would have been logically obvious to everyone present, yet the stableman was the first to draw attention to it. Nobuyuki praised Daizō's resourcefulness of the land for saving Toishi and rewarded him for the effort.

Many of Nagauji's men were captured alive by Nobuyuki's troops and personally brought before Masayuki. His father said to Nagauji specifically, "You are a venerable one. Someday, you may be useful to me." They were spared and allowed to return to Ieyasu, an act of mercy that was said to have made the Tokugawa generals grateful. Nobuyuki noted that about 1,300 men fell at the mountain, though the Mikawa Monogatari records an approximate 300 were lost.

In 1589, Toyotomi Hideyoshi oversaw reconciliation between his new Sanada and Tokugawa vassals. It was agreed that the Sanada would assist the Tokugawa as a condition of their peace. Ieyasu was impressed with Nobuyuki's talents and arranged a meeting with him at Sunpu Castle. Shortly after, he was married to Komatsuhime. While they fought for Hideyoshi's conquests, Nobuyuki befriended Mitsunari.

During the Odawara Campaign, Nobuyuki was one of the generals stationed at Matsuida Castle, which surrendered quickly to the massive Toyotomi army. It was around this time of history that the Sanada became famed for their crimson armor, as Hideyoshi specifically addressed them to do so around 1593. He was given the rank, Junior Fifth Rank, Governor of Izu (Izu-no-kami) in 1594, receiving a promotion at the same time as his younger brother. Nobuyuki is not recorded to have taken part in the Korean Campaign, but he was known to have traveled as far as Nagoya in Bizen in its duration.

In 1600, the Sanada had their individual obligations. In Nobuyuki's case, Mitsunari appealed to him to join the Western army. Around the same time, Ieyasu was trying to lead a preemptive strike on the Uesugi in Aizu and called for Nobuyuki's aid through Ōkubo Tadachika, one of Hidetada's messengers. When no reply came, Ieyasu sent a letter to Masayuki a month later stating that the Toyotomi forces in power were neglecting their written oath to protect the infant Hideyori. A copy of the secret document signed by the Five Commissioners was given to the Sanada. Despite the Tokugawa's suspicions of Nobuyuki's possible allegiances to Mitsunari, Nobuyuki answered Ieyasu a week after Masayuki's letter: his father and younger brother have joined the Toyotomi and left for Ueda; he would stay. Ieyasu quickly wrote back with his gratitude. Within the same missive, Ieyasu figuratively granted Chiisagata District to Nobuyuki and promised that he would not confiscate it in the future.

About three months later, Nobuyuki was ordered by Ieyasu to join Hidetada's forces in attacking the Chiisagata District. Specifically, he was to reunite with Hidetada's forces as they attempted to cross Nakasendō from the east. Honda Masanobu, Hidetada's strategist, had Nobuyuki march towards Toishi Castle. The castle he once defended was now under Nobushige's command. Many of the Sanada troops felt torn over the confrontation due to their respect for both brothers and decided to withdraw. Alternatively, it's said that the troops refused to have the brothers fight against one another and chose to surrender. Nobuyuki's fast and relatively bloodless takeover of Toishi Castle was one of the few advantages that the Tokugawa forces had for the Ueda Castle siege. From his station, Nobuyuki provided support and protection for Hidetada's troops. Like his father and brother, the Ueda Castle conflict caused his absence at Sekigahara.

Tokugawa ShogunateEdit

When the Western Army's defeat at Sekigahara was announced to the forces at Ueda, both forces were at a standstill. Masayuki held himself within Ueda Castle and refused to answer any Tokugawa inquiries. It wasn't until he received news that Yamanote-dono was safe from his own messengers approximately two weeks later that he began to communicate with Nobuyuki, who was still at Toishi Castle. On behalf of his father and younger brother, Nobuyuki traveled to the Sanada manor in the capital.

While historical records around this time are lacking, it is commonly assumed that Ieyasu wanted to have Masayuki and Nobushige executed to join the fates of others who stated their open defiance to Ieyasu or Hidetada (i.e. Mitsunari, Konishi Yukinaga, Ankokuji Ekei). Stories go on to say that Nobuyuki went to his father-in-law, Honda Tadakatsu. After sharing news of Masayuki's consent to defeat, Nobuyuki burst into tears on his knees and pleaded for a way to spare Masayuki and Nobushige. Aware of his lord's intentions, Tadakatsu passed Nobuyuki's plea to Ieyasu and purportedly warned, "If you should fail to heed this wish, be prepared for another war." Modern day romanticism notes that this was due to Tadakatsu's love and respect for his son-in-law. Interpretations from older eras have Tadakatsu acting on the side of caution. He was concerned about the possibility of facing the Sanada tactics and sought to eradicate the threat before it emerged. After Tadakatsu shared his opinion, Ii Naomasa and Sakakibara Yasumasa voiced similar sentiments. Ieyasu was said to have been stunned by the support Nobuyuki received. Alternatively, Tadakatsu would fight his lord if he did not grant the request or that Nobuyuki's steadfast loyalty and friendship with Hidetada caused Ieyasu to stay his hand.

In December 1600, Masayuki and Nobushige were ordered to leave Ueda Castle with a Tokugawa assigned escort, and a modest number of Sanada retainers and soldiers who swore loyalty to either lord chose to follow them into exile. Nobuyuki was present at the time of their departure to watch them go. Though they were forbidden to see one another, Nobuyuki would continue to communicate with Masayuki and Nobushige in the years that they were apart. His letters would range from summarizing the political changes in Ueda, addressing retainer complaints and requests, to common observations of the weather. At his personal expense, Nobuyuki provided for the exiles in Kudoyama.

On December 13, Ieyasu revoked Masayuki's titles and property. As he promised, he then gave them to Nobuyuki. To politically distance himself with being associated with Masayuki, Nobuyuki adapted the spelling of his name (信之) in written documents. Shortly after he appointed Nobuyuki as the lord of the Ueda Domain, Ieyasu ordered Ueda Castle to be destroyed and rebuilt; the ruling for the rebuilt castle would later go to the Sengoku clan. Nobuyuki was given 95,000 koku and made Numata Castle his main keep. As the clan head, he was given the task to oversee the reconstruction efforts of Ueda in the aftermath of the second castle siege. In the years that would follow, these efforts would be strained by Mount Asama's eruptions, disease epidemics, food shortages, and other natural disasters. Nobuyuki employed various plans in the struggle to stabilize the populace such as draining the castle moat to help distribute water, cutting the pay of his retainers to expedite recovery efforts, and focusing on plans that maintained the castle-town. Though he himself suffered in his health, Nobuyuki faithfully fulfilled his two major responsibilities to his lord and his family.

Accommodations arranged by Komatsuhime's handmaidens were made, yet Masayuki died due to illness in 1611. Upon learning of his father's death, Nobuyuki requested for the shogunate to permit him to arrange a funeral. This time, he was denied outright. Nobuyuki sank into a deep depression upon hearing the news, lamenting that he couldn't even be allowed to pay proper rites or visit his father's gravestone. Masanobu was sympathetic and scribed a letter to Nobuyuki to explain the shogunate's justifications. Even if the eldest brother had repeatedly proved his loyalty to the shogunate, Masayuki had still raised arms against them. The shogunate could and would not express such a luxury towards a criminal without paying the repercussions from others.

Today in the Sanada family archives there remains an undated and unsent letter written by Nobuyuki addressed to his father. Within it, he fondly shares news of his younger brother. Based on the wording, it can be assumed that it was written sometime after Masayuki and Nobushige were separated from one another in their exile (1605-1611). Contemporary observers wonder if Nobuyuki regretted its existence or kept it as a memento to remind himself of better times.

During the Osaka Campaigns, Nobuyuki had taken ill. His sons had taken to the field in his stead. In 1622, Hidetada ordered for Nobuyuki to be transferred to the Matsudai Domain with 130,000 koku (30,000 of which granted because of Numata). As a wealthy individual, his reputation in the court increased. When tales of his heroics spread through gossip, he was supposedly famed as the "Lion of Shinano" (信濃の獅子).

With the early deaths of his eldest son, Nobuyoshi, and his infant heir, Nobuyuki passed inheritance of the Sanada clan to his second son, Nobumasa. Nobuyuki retired in 1656. Two years later, however, Nobumasa suddenly died. The right for the third leader of Matsudai turned into an ugly civil dispute between the Sanada daimyo. The two candidates that were considered by them were Nobutoshi (Nobuyoshi's second son) and Yukimichi (Nobumasa's fifth or sixth son). After the issue was brought to the shogunate's attention, it was decided that Yukimichi should be the legitimate heir. Since he was only two years old and fatherless, Nobuyuki was assigned to foster the child into his new responsibilities.

Months later within the same year, Nobuyuki fell ill. He died when he was 93. His death poem is roughly translated as: "In this world of ever-present change, I cannot imagine it as a dream." Retainer and common folk were said to have prayed for his spirit and mourned his passing.

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