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Sanada Saemon-no-Suke Nobushige (真田 左衛門佐 信繁 Sanada Nobushige, 1567-June 3, 1615) was a Japanese samurai, second son of the Sengoku period daimyō Sanada Masayuki ( 真田昌幸).
His original name was Sanada Nobushige|真田信繁, named after Takeda Shingen's younger brother Takeda Nobushige (武田信繁), a respected warrior of his time.
Nobushige received various titles such as "Hero who appears only once in a hundred years", "Crimson Demon of War" or "The number one warrior in Japan" throughout his life.
Nobushige was the second son of Sanada Masayuki. He married Akihime (Chikurin-in), daughter of Ōtani Yoshitsugu and adopted daughter of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, marriage from which he had two sons: Daisuke and Daihachi and several daughters.
During the Battle of Nagashino, Masayuki's two older brothers, who served the Takeda clan, lost their lives, so she inherited the leadership of the clan by occupying the Ueda castle.
During the year 1582, the combined forces of the Oda clan; led by Oda Nobunaga, and the Tokugawa clan; led by Tokugawa Ieyasu, destroyed the Takeda clan.
The Sanada clan surrendered under Nobunaga initially, but after the Honnō-ji Incident, in which Nobunaga was betrayed and forced to commit seppuku by one of his top generals named Akechi Mitsuhide, it became independent again and served under different powerful daimyō such as the Uesugi clan, the late Hōjō clan and the Tokugawa clan.
Eventually the Sanada became vassals of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who gave Nobushige many attentions and was even allowed to use the clan name, so he is sometimes referred to as Toyotomi Saemon-no-suke Nobushige (豊臣左衛門佐信繁Saemon-no-suke Nobushige).
In the year of 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu summoned several daimyō to attack Uesugi Kagekatsu so the Sanada attended, but when Ishida Mitsunari decided to engage Ieyasu in combat, Masayuki and Nobushige joined him, while Nobushige's brother Nobuyuki joined Ieyasu's army.
The motives about Masayuki and Nobushige's decision to join Mitsunari's side are not entirely clear and have been discussed by scholars for years. The two main theories are: first, Masayuki made the decision and Nobushige accepted that it would be a challenge to join the "weaker" side and if they were to win the battle, the Sanada would gain a lot of power.
The second theory states that when Ieyasu approached them with his support, the clan members separated so that whatever the outcome the clan would survive.
The Sanada retreated to Ueda Castle and when Tokugawa Hidetada was marching on the Nakasendō, the Sanada were able to push back Hidetada's army of 40,000 men with only 2,000. Realizing the extra effort it would take to besiege the castle, he retreated but was unable to reach the Battle of Sekigahara in time.
When the war ended, leyasu wanted to execute the Sanada, but due to Nobuyuki's contributions to his cause their lives were spared and they were exiled to Kudoyama in Kii Province where Masayuki passed away.
Twelve years later, relations between the Toyotomi clan and Ieyasu worsened, so the Toyotomi clan began recruiting ronin to prepare for war. Nobushige escaped from Kudoyama and entered Osaka Castle to fight as well.
During the Siege of Osaka, Nobushige built fortifications along the southern side of the castle at its weakest points, from which he launched attacks against Ieyasu's army in groups of 6,000 arquebusiers.
Greatly outnumbered, Nobushige's forces were defeated and in this place he lost his life at the age of 49, giving way to the legend that would be formed over the years. His tomb is located in Osaka.
A legend tells of Nobushige leading ten heroes during the Siege of Osaka called "The Ten Braves of Sanada" (真田十勇士 Sanada Jūyūshi), which were a group of samurai consisting of: