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秀吉を支えた名軍師・竹中半兵衛

BEST TIMES 9/28(水) 12:00配信

名古屋在住、日本大好きラジオDJクリス・グレンが語る、日本が誇る錚々たる戦国武将たちの魅力。外国人の目に我が国の英雄たちはどう映っているのか? 

斜陽の斉藤家を支えた不遇の天才軍師・半兵衛

 

竹中重治。
この名前を聞いて「あぁ、竹中半兵衛ね。」とパッとわかる人は、かなり
歴史好きな人だろう。軍師としても有名な戦国SAMURAI竹中半兵衛。
カッコいい逸話が多いが、後から創作されたエピソードも多いらしく
本当のところは、よくわかっていない。


美濃の斉藤義龍(斎藤道三の息子)亡き後は、その息子、斉藤龍興につかえた
半兵衛。この龍興が、14歳と若く、そしてあまりに平凡なSAMURAIだったため、以前から美濃を狙っていた織田信長に、ここぞとばかりに攻められる。

が、そこは軍師の竹中半兵衛。彼の力によって信長軍を破り、美濃を守った。
半兵衛は軍師としての素晴らしい才能を持っていたのはもちろんのこと、
武術、剣術もかなりの腕前だったらしい。これぞ、僕の憧れるSAMURAI像! 

 

 
でも、そんな才能とは反対に、外見はとても女性的だったらしく、龍興の家臣に「おしっこ」をかけられたこともあったらしい。

自分の主君である龍興は、酒や女遊びばかりしているし、その龍興が可愛がっている家臣には「おしっこ」をかけられるし…。
それに怒ったのかどうかはわからないが、龍興の居城・稲葉山城(のちの岐阜城)を16人の仲間たちと攻め、わずか1日で見事に攻め落とすことに成功する。 
結局その後、半兵衛は龍興に城を返すものの半兵衛が斉藤家から去った後、
稲葉山城は信長に奪われ、斉藤氏は滅亡してしまう。

こうなったことを見ても、半兵衛の果たしていた役割がいかに大きかったかが
よくわかる。肺の病のため、36歳という若さで亡くなってしまう竹中半兵衛。
「SAMURAIだから」と、最後は秀吉軍として三木合戦に出陣し、戦場で
亡くなった。この死に様も、いかにもSAMURAIらしい。

竹中半兵衛。
外見などは関係ない。賢く、勇敢でカッコいいSAMURAIだ。

 

〈以下 英訳〉
Takenaka Hanbei

To most Japanese, the name Takenaka Shigeharu means little, however the name Takenaka Hanbei is famous!  In actual fact, they’re one and the same person. (It was quite normal for a samurai to have a number of different names, they changed on special occasions, such as coming of age, following victory in battle, or from being awarded a new name by their lord.)
Takenaka Hanbei is one of the most famous generals of the Warring States Period, and many fine deeds are attributed to him, however some may have been invented later, just as his name seems to have been. There are no surviving records from his lifetime using the name Hanbei, however it’s the name most remember him by. 

Hanbei had a talent for leadership and strategy, he was an expert swordsman and well versed in the military arts. He was a highly regarded and loyal vassal of the Saito Clan of Mino (Gifu) under the famed warlord Saito Dosan’s son, Yoshitatsu.  

When Yoshitatsu died, his son, Tatsuoki took over as third clan head at the age of 14. He was too young, too weak and accustomed to an easy life, too corrupt, and for those reasons Oda Nobunaga saw an opportunity to take the prized castle and Mino provinces. Despite the Oda’s advances, they were repelled by the superb tactics of Hanbei, who was credited with having saved the castle and the Saito clan once again. 

Despite his martial prowess and strategic abilities, Hambei was said to have been effeminate in manner, which further caused the retainers of Tatsuoki, jealous of Hanbei’s abilities and success in battle, to dislike him. One such samurai even urinated on him as he passed below a watchtower in the castle in an effort to embarrass the strategist. Angered at the insult, and further angered that despite  his loyalty and dedication to the Saito, Tastuoki would refrain from seeking justice or apology, sought revenge.

Inabayama Castle, (later to be renamed Gifu Castle) was strategically well positioned, and was reputed to be among the nations most difficult to attack and best defended castles, however Hanbei with just 16 samurai took the castle easily. Entering the castle on the pretext of visiting a sick brother, Hanbei attacked the living quarters of Tasuoki, who, thinking a sizeable enemy force had penetrated the fortress, fled.

Hanbei later handed the castle back to the cowardly Tatsuoki and resigned from the service of the Saito. With Hanbei out of the way, Oda Nobunaga again saw an opportunity and attacked Gifu castle, taking it easily and ousting the Saito clan, proof that without Hanbei’s expert guidance and leadership, the Saito clan and castle were lost.

This act of daring, attacking and taking Gifu Castle, brought him to the attention of Toyotomi Hideyoshi who took the strategist under his wing, using the man’s intelligence and abilities to further himself.

Takanaka Hanbei died at the age of 36. His body was severely weakened, wracked by either tuberculosis, or cancer of the lungs. Either way, he refused to die in bed. Instead he joined Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the Battle of Miki Castle, and died like a samurai, killed in battle.
Despite Takenaka Hanbei’s supposed effeminate nature, he was brave, loyal and a master of his art. He was a samurai amongst samurai.

 

〈了〉

文/クリス グレン

最終更新:9/28(水) 12:00

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