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Maeda Toshiie stood as a pivotal and accomplished figure during the Warring States Period, leaving an indelible mark on history. Born in Arako on January 15, 1538, to Maeda Toshimasa, the lord of Arako Castle in Owari (now part of Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture), Toshiie, also known as Inuchiyo or Matazaemon, emerged from a distinguished lineage.

In his youth, Toshiie served as a page to Oda Nobunaga, forging a close friendship with the spirited and unconventional Nobunaga. Notably, he earned the moniker "Yari-no-Mataza" for his exceptional spear skills. Despite having four older brothers, Toshiie was appointed as the head of the Maeda clan at the behest of Nobunaga in 1560 after his father's passing.

Toshiie played key roles in Nobunaga's forces, serving in the Akahoro-shu and later as the Ashigaru-Taisho. His valor shone in battles, particularly under Shibata Katsuie against the Asakura clan. For his achievements, he was granted the lucrative domain of Kaga (Kanazawa), making it the wealthiest domain of the Edo period.

Following Nobunaga's demise, Toshiie found himself pitted against his friend Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the Battle of Shizugatake, fighting under Shibata's banner. Subsequently, he became a general in Hideyoshi's army and faced another friend, Sassa Narimasa, at the Siege of Suemori Castle in 1584.

Appointed to the Council of Five Elders by Hideyoshi, Toshiie played a crucial role in governing on behalf of Hideyoshi's son, Hideyori. At Hideyoshi's deathbed in 1598, Toshiie received the solemn duty of directly caring for the infant Hideyori.

In opposition to Ieyasu's actions after Hideyoshi's death, Toshiie passed away at the age of 61 on April 27, 1599, a year before the Battle of Sekigahara. His wife, Matsu, a woman of both literary and martial prowess, played a significant role in Toshiie's ascent to power. Together, they had ten children, and Matsu's intelligence and strong will ensured the survival and prosperity of the Maeda clan. After Toshiie's demise and the Battle of Sekigahara, Matsu voluntarily became a hostage at Edo Castle, safeguarding the Maeda clan's legacy throughout the Edo period and beyond.

 


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