(Hideyoshi Toyotomi), 1536-98, Japanese warrior and dictator. He entered the service of Nobunaga
as his sandal holder and rose to become his leading general. After Nobunaga's death Hideyoshi ruled as civilian dictator. He set out to unify Japan, violently disrupted by a century of civil strife. Hideyoshi subdued the military Buddhist sects, conquered Kyushu, and in 1584 came to terms with Ieyasu
. By 1590, with the defeat of the Hojo clan, Hideyoshi was ruler of a united Japan. Although best remembered for his military exploits, Hideyoshi as a civil administrator decreed a land survey, revised the land tax, developed a code of maritime law, and encouraged foreign trade. He at first received Christian missionaries cordially. Then, believing them a political danger because of their proselytizing zeal, he proscribed (1587) their activities and persecuted some of them. In 1592 he attempted to conquer China but succeeded only in occupying part of Korea; just before his death he ordered withdrawal from Korea. He erected monuments, reconstructed Kyoto and Osaka, and encouraged the arts. During the last decade of his life, he ruled mainly from Kyoto, where he had a luxurious residence at Momoyama.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia Copyright © 2004.
Licensed from Columbia University Press