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IEYASU TOKUGAWA

(1543-1616) He was the first and most significant member of the family. Ieyasu was born near modern Nagoya. When he died 73 years later, the country was unified, strong, prosperous, and at peace.

Ieyasu Tokugawa grew up at Sumpu, where he lived as a hostage of the powerful Imagawa family. There he learned the arts of politics and warfare. In 1560 Imagawa was killed in a battle with Nobunaga Oda, Japan's most powerful warlord. Ieyasu allied himself with Nobunaga and prospered in his own domain around Hamamatsu. When Nobunaga died in 1582, he was succeeded by his leading general, Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Although Ieyasu and Hideyoshi were rivals, Ieyasu waited patiently and strengthened his position.

Hideyoshi died in 1598, setting off a power struggle among the warlords. Ieyasu's army triumphed at the battle of Sekigahara in 1600. He established his headquarters at Edo (now Tokyo), where he kept the warlords who backed him busy building the largest castle in the world. In 1603 the powerless emperor bestowed the title shogun on Ieyasu.