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Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Hideyoshi’s tale is one of extreme social mobility; it’s an irony that his edicts established a rigid class system that prevented anyone else from following in his footsteps

It is 1536, and Japan is a collection of fractured provinces, controlled by local warlords. Though loyal to a symbolic emperor, no longer do they fear his once-supreme shōgun, the de facto military dictator. In this vacuum, they battle one another for land and glory, drenching the country in blood. Their domains are plagued with extremist monks, peasant rebellions, violent bandits and cut-throat pirates. Amidst the chaos, a child is born in a backwater village of Owari Province. He will one day rule them all.

Sufflce to say, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the son of a farmer and part-time foot soldier, was not of noble birth. Having lost his father at seven, he left home in his mid-teens to find a worthy master to serve. He enlisted in the army of Imagawa Yoshimoto, the most powerful lord in the Kant region, who blackened his teeth and shaved his eyebrows in imitation of Kyoto’s nobles. However, Hideyoshi soon left him, joining Oda Nobunaga, a lord with fewer graces and greater infamy, in 1558.

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BBC History Revealed Magazine
July 2018

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