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|First Appearance:||Samurai Warriors|
|Real name:|| |
|Japanese name:|| |
January 25, 1573
|Thought to have been born in either 1517 or 1518.|
Role in GamesEdit
In Samurai Warriors 2 and its following sequel, Yoshinobu is only present at Mikatagahara and he poses as Ieyasu in order to buy time for his master to escape. In the Tokugawa scenario, he can be saved. The Takeda scenario has him fight while disguised as one of the three Ieyasu impostors. His fate cannot be averted in Samurai Warriors 3.
- "I am Ieyasu! Try to take my head!"
Natsume Yoshinobu was the son of Natsume Yoshihisa and was born in the Hazori District, Mikawa (modern day Kōta, Aichi). His legal alias was Jirō-Saemon. His family ancestor was the third child of Minamoto no Mitsuyoshi and his children branched off into various families in the east, including the Takeda and Ii families. Yoshinobu's family line descended from a branch that stayed within Mikawa and was one of the Seiwa Genji descendants serving the Matsudaira family. Yoshinobu had four children, three sons and one who died stillborn (also argued to have been a daughter). Since his other sons died premature deaths to illness, his third son, Yoshitsugu, was the one to succeed him after his death. The political stature of Yoshinobu's family line became extinct within his grandson's time of power. However, his family continued to chart their history through the Edo Period and the generation continues to be alive to this day. A few of his descendants include Natsume Sōseki, Kazuhito Natsume, and Fusanosuke Natsume.
Much of Yoshinobu's early life is not clearly listed. All that is known for sure was that he served the Matsudaira family since his youth. He has been rumored to have served three generations of the family line (Kiyoyasu, Hirotada, and Motoyasu), but this statement is debatable with its accuracy due to his unknown birth year. During the Mikawa-Hachiman Conflicts between the Imagawa, Takeda, and Matsudaira families, he participated in the military forces at Nagasawa Castle and helped Itakura Shigezane attack another castle in 1562. When Motoyasu was on the verge of being surrounded by Imagawa forces, Yoshinobu was said to be among those who volunteered for the rear guard.
In 1563, the Sōtō-shu practitioners threw in their lot and revolted in Mikawa. Joining the rebels were Yoshinobu, Honda Masanobu, Hachiya Sadatsugu and others whom were discontent serving Ieyasu. Rennyo's grandson, Kuzei, led the people into revolt since they felt their Honshōji beliefs were being robbed by Ieyasu's failed campaigns and sought to "reclaim" their origins. The reasons for the family vassals joining the rebels may stem from their desires to overtake Mikawa or due to lack of trust for Ieyasu. Confronting their former master at Noha Castle, Yoshinobu and others fought against troops led by Ieyasu's suppression forces. Like the other rebel family vassals, Yoshinobu was captured alive in July 1563. Ieyasu forgave his crimes and was once again granted his rights as a retainer. He sought to redeem his image by helping the subjugation effort. By January 1564, the rebels were quelled but the lasting impact of their fall caused a rift with Ieyasu's supporters. Those who felt sympathy for the rebels thought they had failed to live up to the people's trust, their loyalties hurt by Ieyasu's choice to subjugate them.
Regardless of whatever Yoshinobu thought of his lord afterwards, he didn't hesitate to ride to Ieyasu's rescue during the disaster at Mikatagahara. He was made the main guard of Hamamatsu Castle until he noticed his lord's distress and personally rode out of the keep with twenty horsemen. Yoshinobu was able to meet up with Ieyasu and their men frantically thrashed against Takeda Katsuyori's cavalry in hot pursuit. Ieyasu, broken and desolate at the sight of his own men dying before him, was carried on Yoshinobu's back to escape the scene. Losing his own pages to the chaos, Yoshinobu dropped his lord and took Ieyasu's horse. He told Ieyasu he would pose as his lord as a decoy for the real Ieyasu to escape. In a variation of the account, Ieyasu was too dumbstruck to respond to his original plea so Yoshinobu patronized, "What good would a spiritless one such as yourself do me!? Off with you!" The words were enough to finally get Ieyasu moving. Yoshinobu mounted Ieyasu's horse and charged at the Takeda forces as promised, losing his life in battle. According to the Mikawa Monogatari, the retainer was an elderly man by this time.
Ieyasu never forgot Yoshinobu's sacrifice and treated his retainer's son with respect. He once said to Yoshitsugu during the Osaka Campaigns, "If not for your father, I would not be alive here today."