The Oda clan (織田家, Oda-shi) is one of the most powerful clans of daimyos of the Sengoku period (xve century-xvie century) in Japanese history. Oda Nobunaga is the greatest representative of this clan, at the origin of the unification of Japan.
According to Oda Nobunaga, the Oda clan has its roots in the village of Oda, in the province of Echizen, when a monk named Taira no Chikazane fled to this village when the Minamoto clan destroyed the Taira clan.
He changed his name to Oda Chikazane and started a new line of priests who took the name of the village as their clan name.
The Oda clan was the vassal of the Shiba clan for several centuries, the clan that had the largest part of Echizen under its control.
In 1435, the Oda clan received Inuyama castle thanks to the trust of Shiba Yoshitake. The clan had been shugodai for several generations at that time.
When Shiba Yoshitake died in 1452, many vassals refused to recognize Yoshitake's successor, Shiba Yoshitoshi. Important clans such as the Asakura and the Oda supported Shiba Yoshikado. Thus, the Shiba clan lost the power over its vassals who each took control of their own domain and started to rule individually. The power of the Shiba clan decreased as the power of other clans, such as the Oda clan, increased. The Oda clan gained control of more and more areas, and it was thus that Owari province fell entirely into the hands of the clan in 1475. However the clan was at that time divided into two rival branches, the Oda Ise no Kami of Iwakura and the Oda Yamato no Kami of Kiyosu.
At the beginning of the 16th century, the Oda clan was still divided into two different branches. In the weaker branch of the clan, the Oda of Kiyosu, Oda Nobuhide, son of Oda Nobusada, was born in 1510. He became chief of the clan after his father.
In 1534 Oda Nobunaga was born. He was the second son of Nobuhide but was considered as the true heir of the clan because his elder brother, Oda Nobuhiro, was not fit to take over the role of clan chief. So he was put forward as an illegitimate son. This is how Nobunaga eventually became chief.
In the 1540s, Oda Nobuhide retained Yamato no Kami Michikatsu and thus became daimyō of the Sengoku era with regional ambitions. Oda Nobunaga went to war for the first time in 1541, under the command of his father, against the Matsudaira clan of Mikawa province.
As a result of this conflict, Anjō Castle fell into Nobuhide's hands. Oda Nobuhide died of illness in 1551 in Suemori Castle in Owari Province. After his death, some doubts about the legitimate heir surfaced.
But since Oda Nobuhiro was considered as an illegitimate child, Oda Nobunaga took his chance and was recognized in 1553 as the legitimate successor of Oda Nobuhide. He thus became clan chief and daimyō.
As soon as Nobunaga took power, he challenged the Iwakura branch of the Oda clan to take control over Owari province. It was at this time that Nobunaga began to become unreasonable and unseemly.
This was the cause of the suicide of Hirate Masahide, a servant of the clan. A temple was later built in his honor by Nobunaga, called Seishu-ji or Masahide-ji. One year after Nobunaga took control of the Shiba Yoshimune clan, the shugo of Owari was assassinated in Kiyosu castle by Oda Nobutomo.
Nobutomo was part of the Iwakura branch but committed this act to support Nobunaga. So he gave the castle he conquered to Nobunaga.
In 1556, Oda Nobuyuki, one of Nobunaga's younger brothers, tried to regain control over his family and clan with the help of Shibata Katsuie and Hayashi Hidesada. However, he was defeated by Nobunaga's supporters.
He was pardoned for his acts of rebellion against his brother. In 1557, Nobunaga took possession of Iwakura castle and thus secured most of Owari province. But he was challenged again by a member of his family.
Thus, Oda Nobuhiro allied himself with Saitō Yoshitatsu of Mino province. Yoshitatsu was at that time already being pursued by Nobunaga for a year for the murder of Saito Dosan, Yoshitatsu's father. Nobunaga discovered once again what his brother had been up to, but pardoned him again.
In the meantime, Nobuyuki plotted a new plot against his brother, but it did not succeed and this time he was executed for his crime. That same year Nobunaga's first child was born, namely Oda Nobutada.
Imagawa Yoshimoto went on a campaign against Kyoto. In this way he broke into Owari province and took control of the forts of Marume and Washizu with the help of the Matsudaira.
Nobunaga immediately left Kiyosu to counter them. Although Nobunaga's enemies had a great numerical superiority, he won the battle. After the battle, he formed a secret alliance with Matsudaira Motoyasu of Mikawa province.
A year later, Saito Yoshitatsu died, which gave Nobunaga the chance to take control of Mino province, trying to annihilate the Saito clan during the following years.
The Saito clan was dismantled from 1568 and the province of Mino fell into the hands of Nobunaga. He settled in Inabayama which he renamed Gifu. His interest in Ise province grew and made his son, Oda Nobutaka, marry Kanbe Tomomori from western Ise.
Nobutaka thus took over the leadership of the Kanbe family. Nobunaga went on a campaign against the KitaBatake clan to expand his control over Ise. He ended this conflict with the battle of Anotsu castle.
Beginning in 1570 incursions against Nobunaga began as he challenged the authority of the shōgun, Ashikaga Yoshiaki. Thus, conflicts against the Asukara and Asai clans began. These two clans also allied themselves against the Oda clan.
After two years, this conflict was still not finished and the Oda clan lost some parts of the provinces of Ise and Omi. However, this did not prevent him from sending Tokugawa Ieyasu on a campaign against the Takeda clan.
As a result, the Takeda clan took control of Iwamaru castle in Mino province and took Nobunaga's fifth son prisoner.
The Oda clan put an end to the Ashikaga shogunate in 1573 and quickly neutralized the Asai and Asakura clans after this. However, not all the enemies of the Oda clan were neutralized yet.
The Takeda clan and the Nagashima-Ikko continued to attack the Oda. This resulted in 1574 in a massacre of 20,000 men, women and children in Nagashima caused by the Oda clan.
The Takeda clan penetrated the Tokugawa domain in May 1575 and organized a siege on the Nagashino castle.
The Oda clan led by Nobunaga went to help the Tokugawa clan, which created a joint army of 35,000 men against 13,000 soldiers for the Takeda clan on the battlefield; this resulted in a crushing victory for the Oda-Tokugawa alliance.
At the same time, the Ikko of Echizen province disturbed the Oda clan but these revolts were put down at the end of that year.
The Oda clan went to war in 1577 against the Hatano clan of Tamba and the Ishikki clan of Tajima, because both of them had supported Ashikaga Yoshiaki against the Oda clan during the Ashikaga shogunate. Meanwhile, Bessho Nagaharu allied with the Oda and Hashiba Hideyoshi helped them cross the Chūgoku region.
In Hokuriku, a former ally of the Oda, Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo, rebelled against Nobunaga, as Kenshin found that the Oda had violated his sphere of influence.
He defeated the Oda near the Tendorigawa in Kaga. His actions inspired the rebels led by Matsunaga Hisahide to go to war against the Oda clan in the Yamato provinces. However, Hisahide's castle was attacked by Oda Nobutada and Tsutsui Junkei, which caused him to commit suicide.
Azuchi castle of Omi province became the capital of Oda clan in 1578. The Mori clan was defeated in the same year after the second battle of Kizugawaguchi. Uesugi Kenshin, Araki Murashige, lord of Itami castle in Settsu and Bessho clan all turned against Oda clan.
The Bessho clan was attacked by Hideyoshi under the orders of Oda Nobutada. Kenshin died before conquering the province of Kaga, which resulted in a civil war between the clan members. The Uesugi clan was no longer a problem for the Oda.
Araki Murashige left Itami Castle in 1579 due to the loss of two powerful allies for the Oda clan and fled to the west to live in the shadows for the rest of his life. Oda Nobuo undertook on his own initiative to enter the province of Iga, for which he was reprimanded by his father, Nobunaga.
Tokugawa Nobuyasu, son of Tokugawa Ieyasu, was also suspected of treason against the Oda clan. Nobunaga forced him to commit suicide.
Nobunaga rejected some of his allies from 1581, such as Sakuma Nobumori, Inaba Ittetsu and Hayashi Hidesada. At the same time Hideyoshi took control of Miki castle and made Ukita clan of Bizen province an ally of Oda clan to the disadvantage of Mori clan.
The power of the Kaga Ikko was also broken. The Oda clan was later able to put more pressure on the province of Etchū and Noto, at the time when it was under the control of the Uesugi clan.
The Oda succeeded in taking Noto but most of Etchū province remained in the hands of the Uesugi clan. Nobunaga nevertheless attacked Iga province and defeated all resistance there.
The Oda clan took Ūzu castle in Etchū province in 1582. This was a crushing defeat for the Uesugi and opened the way to Echigo province for an invasion by the Oda clan.
Nobunaga coordinated an invasion on the Takeda domain in May with the help of the Tokugawa and the Hōjō. Most of the surviving members of the Takeda clan were executed on Nobunaga's orders. Upon his return to Kyoto, Nobunaga began to organize an invasion on the Chosokabe domain on Shikoku.
On June 20 of that year, Oda Nobunaga was betrayed by Akechi Mitsuhide, a case known as the Honnō-ji incident. With Oda Nobunaga also died his son Oda Katsunaga while Oda Nobutada was surrounded at Nijō Castle and committed suicide.
The Hōjō clan seized the opportunity to drive the Oda clan out of Kozuke while the Oda army suspended its advance into Etchū province. A rebellion appeared in Kai province and the Oda clan governor, Kawajiri Hidekane, was killed while fleeing. Thus began the fall of power of the Oda clan.
After the death of Oda Nobunaga and his first son Nobutada, lord of Gifu, in the Honnō-ji incident (1582), Nobutaka, his second son, took control over the Gifu region. He did so with the help of Shibata Katsuie to prevent Toyotomi Hideyoshi from taking power.
Shibata Katsuie was finally defeated during the battle of Shizugatake, which made Nobutaka lose his most powerful ally. He was later defeated by his brother, Oda Nobukatsu, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1583.
Nobukatsu, however, did not remain Hideyoshi's ally any longer and allied himself with the future shōgun, Tokugawa Ieyasu. He went to war against Hideyoshi with Ieyasu in the Komaki-Nagakute campaign of 1584.
After a not really decisive battle, he became daimyō of Kiyosu (a large part of Owari province and parts of Ise).
It is said that Nobutaka is Nobunaga's third son and Nobukatsu the second, but in truth it is the other way around. They were born three weeks apart in 1558 but Nobutaka was the son of a lower class concubine of Nobunaga.
That is why Nobukatsu was given priority in the genealogy. He also managed to receive a very high position in the imperial court. He became minister of the interior (naidaijin, 内大臣) in 1587.
However, he was expropriated of all his lands by Hideyoshi because he refused to go on a campaign for him. The purpose of this campaign was to make fiefs of all the lands abandoned by Ieyasu. This will become the Odawara campaign of 1590.
Nobutada's son, Oda Hidenobu (1580-1605), became lord of Azuchi in 1582 and heir to Nobunaga, as decided at the Kiyosu conference. Hidenobu became in 1590 daimyō of an estate of 135,000 koku.
He was baptized as a Christian in 1595 and became a fervent supporter of Catholicism, as a result of which his entire estate had to become Catholic.
During the great conflict of 1600, he turned against Tokugawa Ieyasu and made him lose his castle in Gifu as a result of the attack coordinated by Fukushima Masanori, an ally of Ieyasu.
This event took place three weeks before the battle of Sekigahara. Hidenobu was expropriated from his land and the main branch of the Oda clan fell.
Nobunage's younger brother Nagamasu, also known as the great tea master Oda Uraku, fought for Tokugawa Ieyasu at the battle of Sekigahara. Ieyasu gave following the victory an estate of 30,000 koku in the Settsu and Yamato region.
His descendants were daimyōs of Yamato until the end of the Edo era. Nobukatsu received in 1615 an estate of 50,000 koku in Matsuyama in the Yamato region. This estate was reduced by 20,000 koku two years later, they went to Nobuyoshi, son of Nobukatsu, in Obata in Kōzuke province.
The Matsuyama estate was exchanged for fiefs by Nobukatsu's descendants in 1695. They received an estate of 20,000 koku in Kaibara in Tamba province. This estate was owned by Nobunaga's brother, Oda Nobukane (1543-1614), between 1598 and 1650, and remained in the possession of the Oda clan until the end of the Meiji restoration in 1868.
Another part of the Oda clan, the Oda of Obata was moved to Dewa province and then moved again twice. The first time in 1767 to Takahata and to Tendō in 1830 where they had an estate of 20,000 koku, this until the abolition of feudal estates, also called "han system" in 1871.
During the reign of Oda Nobuhide, the Oda clan was attacked by the Saito clan. The Oda clan resisted but allied with the Saito under the reign of Oda Nobunaga.
Oda Nobukatsu won a battle against Tsutsui clan, which put an end to the power of this clan.