A DIFFICULT TASK
“Telling someone how to negotiate well is a difficult task. A person’s attitude toward life and toward the game have a strong, immeasurable, and probably unalterable effect on how, and how well, he or she negotiates in any wargame. Hundreds of essays have been written about this subject. Certain principles and common failings can be described, however, which no player should ignore.”
– Dr. Lewis Pulsipher, “The Art of Negotiation in Diplomacy”
THE LAST STAND OF THE HOJO CLAN
Lord Hojo Ujimasa’s heart sinks into dismay at this final change in the state of affairs.
When over 220,000 battle-hardened Toyotomi loyalists had besieged the 82,000 Hojo defenders spread between different castles and fortifications, there was no chance at counterattack. The Toyotomi forces were better trained, better equipped, with more modern weapons, and more experience.
Lord Hojo had desperately hoped that someone – anyone – in Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s army would start feeling rash and foolishly try to force an attack of overwhelming force. The only hope for the Hojo was winning multiple decisive defensive engagements.
But the latest “reinforcements” that arrived to Hideyoshi’s banner chilled his heart more than any weapons, warships, or soldiers could possibly have.
Arriving just beyond the front lines of the siege were… entertainers, Kabuki actors, and courtesans.
He tried to choke back tears, seeing Hideyoshi’s maneuver to keep his soldiers from getting restless.
At the site of this morbid battlefield entertainment arriving, Lord Hojo sighs deeply.
“We have lost.”
THE SIEGE TO END ALL SIEGES
“The massive army of Toyotomi Hideyoshi surrounded the castle in what has been called "the most unconventional siege lines in samurai history." The samurai were entertained by everything: from concubines, prostitutes and musicians to acrobats, fire-eaters, and jugglers. The defenders slept on the ramparts with their arquebuses and armor; despite their smaller numbers, they discouraged Hideyoshi from attacking. So, for the most part, this siege consisted of traditional starvation tactics.” – Wikipedia: Siege of Odawara
It more resembled an evening revelry than a battlefield – dug-in with overwhelming force, Hideyoshi had called for a great spectacle to keep his men entertained during the long siege.
It had been six years since diplomatically outmaneuvering Tokugawa Ieyasu after the Toyotomi had suffered those rare battlefield defeats at Komaki and Nagakute in 1584.
In 1585, in the wake of Hideyoshi’s consolidation, the Imperial Court in Kyoto had named him to one of the highest ranks possible in the nation – Kampaku – “Grand Regent of the Nation.”
Two years later, in 1587, Hideyoshi had destroyed all the scattered opposition in Japan, unifying the country. In the next two years, he passed the famous law that only samurai could carry swords and carried out a great “sword hunt” through the nation, disarming the various peasant insurgents and warrior monks which still had weapons. Seeing the rising power of Christianity in Japan, he banished missionaries and executed a number of particularly pious Christians as an example.
After being outmaneuvered diplomatically in 1584, Tokugawa Ieyasu had quickly fallen into line and been on his very best behavior, supporting Hideyoshi with gifts and taxes. When the call came that the final battle of the era would be the subjugation of the Hojo Clan, Tokugawa mobilized his troops and marched under Hideyoshi’s banner.
With Tokugawa Ieyasu brought to heel and falling into the new order, the Hojo Clan was the last major source of potential resistance to the Toyotomi.
They carried an illustrious name – the original Hojo Clan had been rulers of Japan 300 years beforehand. Their power had been largely eliminated 200 years before, but one “Lord Ise” had married a princess descended from the Hojo line and had resurrected the name and line.
This was perhaps a tentative connection to the past, but the name still carried great prestige and awe. Lord Hojo Ujimasa was married to the daughter of the extremely powerful late Takeda Shingen; their son and heir was married to Tokugawa Ieyasu’s beloved second daughter and thus was the son-in-law of Ieyasu.
The Hojo had largely been neutral for much of the Sengoku Civil Wars, occasionally lightly fighting against the Oda and Tokugawa – the Hojo/Tokugawa marriage had been as a result of the peace treaty in the aftermath skirmishes following Nobunaga’s death.
But this mostly-neutrality had not saved them once Hideyoshi had consolidated the rest of the Japan. Fearing their name and lineage, Hideyoshi had declared war on the Hojo – the last and final major threat to his power.
After months of the siege, Lord Hojo Ujimatsu saw that his soldiers were weak and starving to death. The Toyotomi had won their final war of conquest with very little fighting at all.
In the middle of August, 1590, Hojo Ujimasa made the orders for an orderly surrender to the Toyotomi forces, and composed his death poem –
Autumn wind of eve
Blow away the clouds that mass
O'er the moon's pure light.
And the mists that cloud our mind
Do thou sweep away as well.
Now we disappear
Well, what must we think of it?
From the sky we came
Now we may go back again
That's at least one point of view.
He then fell on his sword in ritual seppuku.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi had fully unified and pacified Japan.
TSR’S SERIES ON VANTAGES, ISSUE #9: CLASSICAL AND ROMANTIC PLAY
“It is often surprising to new players to learn that not every player wants to accomplish the same thing. Some play for excitement, not caring if they win or lose as long as the game is full of wild incidents. Most play to win the game, but there the ways part. Many players (the “drawers”) believe that, failing to win, a draw is the next best result, while anything else is a loss. At the extreme, even a 7-way draw is better than second place. Others (the “placers”) believe that to survive in second place while someone else wins is better than a draw. At the extreme are those who would “rather die than draw.” Such fundamental differences in world view can have a decisive effect on a game.” – Pulsipher
The universe is vast, vaster than all possible human comprehension.
On any given day, you have nearly an unlimited set of options of what you can do and turn your attention to.
It can thus be very hard to understand all possible options in business, in developing one’s career, in understanding people, in navigating the world and your life to make wonderful things happen.
This is where games can be very useful.
I don’t play games as much as I used to – these days, my roles and duties in the world don’t allow me the luxury of playing games for very long or very often. But I have loved and still do love games for the lessons they can teach us. (Heck, I wrote a whole book – Roguelike – on applied mathematics and behavioral models from video games.)
Games are great because the mechanics are limited and bounded. In the American board game “Monopoly,” there are only a few options available to the player. On the first moves, you roll the dice to move your figure. If you land on an unowned property, you can buy it or not buy it. That’s the extent of your choices.
Later in the game, the complexity and choices grow – when you own an entire set of properties in one area – a “monopoly” – you can choose to build houses or hotels on the property to get higher rents if another player lands on it. Additionally, once players own significant property, they can barter and trade properties between themselves.
But it all starts very simply. You roll the dice. You buy or don’t buy the property you land on. Later, you get more options – build or don’t build? Build how much?
Yet, even with the added decisions, the game is much more scoped and much less vast than reality. You can, if you want, mathematically model the chance of any given property on the board being landed upon. The high level competitive Monopoly players – there’s a whole highly competitive subculture devoted to the game – know the equations and frequency of landing on every single spot on the board. They can thus calculate mathematical yields and optimize which properties to buy and develop, in which order.
This is obviously not possible in the entirety of reality. In reality, with real-world dollars and currency, you could buy anything, spend your money in nearly unlimited ways. In the board game Monopoly, there are only three things to do with your money: buy new property if you land on it, develop property if you own enough of them, and barter and trade properties and cash with other players.
Games, thus, can teach a lot about the world. In the real world, you can’t possibly math your way through every option; there’s nearly infinite options in the real world.
I love this sort of applied mathematics and game theory, but the greatest lessons I’ve gotten are not the mathematics lessons. They’re not even the lessons about behavior and self-control that I wrote about in Roguelike. No, the greatest lesson I got from studying games and game design was about how other players act.
Dr. Lewis Pulsipher is a master of the craft. He’s both a crafter of some very famous and popular board games, and additionally, a wonderful theorist of games. I’d really recommend reading anything he’s written; he’s always incredibly insightful.
The single biggest takeaway I got from Dr. Pulsipher was that players play games in very different ways based on their outlook and orientation to life, and that these outlooks and orientations can be studied and understood.
Indeed, we always bring our worldview, biases, and impulses with us everywhere we go. The most interesting classification of players is into Classical Play and Romantic Play.
WHEN YOU BEGIN A GAME…
Dr. Pulsipher –
“When you begin a game, you must first learn something about each of your opponents. Sometimes you will know quite a bit to begin with, but you can also ask people who know the opponent better than you do. You want to know if your opponent is generally reliable or not, what his objective is, whether he is a classical or romantic player, and whether or not he is good at negotiation, strategy, and tactics…
”Whether a player’s style is “classical” or “romantic” is tricky to define. Briefly, the classical player carefully maximizes his minimum gain. He pays attention to detail and prefers to patiently let the other players lose by making mistakes, rather than trying to force them to make mistakes. He tends to like stable alliances and steady conflict in the game. He tends to be reliable and good at tactics. The romantic is more flamboyant, taking calculated risks to force his enemies into mistakes, trying to defeat them psychologically before they are defeated physically on the board. (Many players give up playable positions because they’re convinced that they’ve lost.) He [the romantic player] tries to maximize his maximum gain, at the cost of increasing potential loss.”
If you skimmed the above two paragraphs, please immediately go re-read them carefully. I say without exaggeration – this is one of the single most insightful and important lessons I ever learned, in all of life.
The classical player carefully maximizes his minimum gains.
The romantic player tries to maximize his maximum gain, at the cost of increasing potential loss.
UNDERSTANDING HOW CLASSICAL AND ROMANTIC PLAY OUT
My closest friend and most frequent colleague, Kai Zau, we discuss “Classical and Romantic” all the time.
Indeed, after learning and discussing this mental model together, I’ve found it so powerful that I often share it with anyone I have frequent close collaborations with.
We all have different natural inclinations towards certain gains or risky gains, how much we’re willing to risk, how much certainty we need.
This can vary by domain – someone might be very classical in the gym, with a very careful and conservative training program, whereas they might be very romantic in investing, buying risky assets that they think can pay off large.
Dropping out of university after one’s sophomore year to do a startup, especially if you were studying in a field that has largely good career outcomes (say, engineering or computer science), is a very Romantic move. Most startups fail, but the ones that succeed, succeed big. Dropping out to get into entrepreneurship increases both your chances of large failure and large success.
Getting a degree in medicine or law, on the other end of the spectrum, would be highly Classical – you’re investing 7+ years of study to reasonably assure yourself of a good salary. It maximizes the minimum gain, nearly guaranteeing some floor of credibility, earning potential, and career outcomes.
You can be Romantic in one field and Classical in another – the startup founder is almost always playing at least somewhat Romantic, but by being conservative with cash management, expenses, and burn rate, they can play more Classically than the norm in that field.
It’s possible, through careful design, to make startups easily acquirable if they fail. This could be ensuring your team is the type a company would want to buy in an “acqui-hire” if the business doesn’t work, developing useful intellectual property like patents that a company would want to buy, and early-on cultivating good relationships with potential acquirers. This would be leaning towards Classical play.
When Mark Zuckerberg famously turned down an offer for a billion dollars from Yahoo to buy Facebook, that’s more Romantic than accepting that acquisition. Yes, he was correct – sure, but it’s more Romantic. When Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion some years later, Zuckerberg found his role reversed – it protected Facebook’s downside, since they weren’t doing as well on mobile as Instagram. Thus, it was more Classical for Zuckerberg to buy – even though he turned out to be correct again (with hindsight), at the time people largely were saying that Facebook overpaid to remove that risk from the landscape before Facebook’s IPO. Meanwhile, the Instagram founders made the opposite decision as Zuckerberg – they took the Classical route, choosing to take the guaranteed $1B instead of the more Romantic move of staying independent.
TOYOTOMI FORWARD HEADQUARTERS, ODAWARA REGION
As he was entering Hideyoshi’s war tent, Kuroda Kanbei bumped into the man who had largely replaced him, Ishida Mitsunari.
Mitsunari scowled at Kanbei, said flippantly –
“Hey Kanbei! How’s your God doing?”
Now 43 years old, Kanbei had mentally slowed a little from his mental peak as grand strategist of the Toyotomi forces – but not so much that he would fall into this trap.
“I believe all the Gods and Kami are doing equally well, smiling at our Lord Hideyoshi’s work being done. How are your gods, Mitsunari?”
Mitsunari laughed derisively and snarled as he walked off past the man whom he had replaced as Hideyoshi’s most trusted man.
The last major expedition Kanbei led for Hideyoshi had been the heavily Christianized Kyushu. After seeing how the natural Japanese fortitude blended into a beautiful pious ferocity with Christianity, he had converted himself.
But that same year, Hideyoshi had come to fear the rising power of the Christians, and passed his famous anti-Christian laws. Rather than be executed, Kanbei had renounced his new religion and took on a Buddhist monk’s robes in deference.
Nevertheless, Kanbei and Hideyoshi had their relationship strained and grew further apart. Meanwhile, Mitsunari had similar talents as Kanbei – he did not have the talent for master strategy nor the diplomatic skill, but with the Japanese Nation already under Hideyoshi’s banner, his skills as a treasurer and attention to detail – traits Kanbei also possessed – had caused Mitsunari to supplant Kanbei.
But never mind Ishida Mitsunari now – we’ll catch up with him in the next two issues when he’s leading the Toyotomi Western Army once the Civil War reignites; he will get his due with time. Now, instead, Kanbei walks past the spiteful treasurer into Hideyoshi’s tent.
Hideyoshi is gleeful. “Kanbei!”
Relations had become strained between them, and they were less close than before, but on such a glorious occasion, these things were forgotten and the men embraced like the old friends they once had been.
“Kanbei, I don’t have anyone else who has the mind you have; I want your advice about one very tricky thing.”
If Kanbei had felt any resentment internally, it melted away – at least for this moment, it was like old times between Grand Regent Hideyoshi and his former grand strategist.
“My Lord, it’s an honor. What’s on your mind?”
Hideyoshi nods to himself a few times before speaking, collecting himself.
“Well, we’ve – umm – we’ve won. The Hojo are beaten. There’s just one thing that’s gnawing at me…”
Despite the years apart, Kanbei could still finish Hideyoshi’s thoughts.
“Yes, that’s right.”
Kanbei asks, “What were you thinking of doing?”
Hideyoshi says, “Well, it’s a little crazy on a first look, but…”
As Hideyoshi explains his plan, Kanbei laughs and shakes his head, marveling a final time at Hideyoshi’s diplomatic ingenuity.
AN OFFER HE CAN’T REFUSE
Tokugawa Ieyasu was laughing.
“Well, this is something else, eh?”
He’d called only a few of his most stalwart retainers to initially discuss the proposal.
The famed ninja chief, Hattori Hanzo, had joined Ieyasu along with the fiercely loyal and stalwart Torii Mototada.
Ieyasu hands around the letter for his two close confidants to read, and then there’s silence for a moment. The room is tense, but would be far more tense if Ieyasu was not seemingly so unworried by this crazy new development.
General Mototada speaks first. “Frankly, I don’t like it at all.”
Hanzo concurs: “Yes, I don’t like it either. What if it’s a trap? If we had a few weeks, I could scout the provinces and assess the loyalties and morale and resources, but we know very little of the Hojo lands. This could be our ruin.”
Mototada pounds his fist into the ground. “Bastard Toyotomi!”
Ieyasu laughs. “Shikata ga nai, eh? It can’t be helped.”
Hanzo objects again, “Can we delay our answer? I can put scouts on the case immediately.”
Ieyasu nods. “Yes, it would be a good time to deploy your scouts. But no, I’m afraid we cannot delay. Hideyoshi controls the nation, and we’re outnumbered 6-to-1 here if fighting breaks out. We cannot give him the slightest pretext. Do start scouting though.”
Mototada stands and grabs his spear, “If your mind is set, I should depart immediately to the home castle in Mikawa to start transferring all the resources we can take.”
Ieyasu nods. “Yes, that’s the way.” He then calls for a messenger and dictates an answer in brief and friendly terms –
Your offer is accepted, Lord Toyotomi. Really, you do me too much honor. Thank you. – Ieyasu
A CLASSICAL OFFER; A ROMANTIC ACCEPTANCE
The Tokugawa’s native lands of Mikawa had two characteristics that were very disturbing to Hideyoshi Toyotomi: the first is that it was very close to the Imperial Capital of Kyoto, very close to the center of power in Japan of the day. The second is that sat at a crucial crossroads of Japan’s most important roadway, the Tokaido Road.
With Tokugawa being on his best behavior for five years, and known as a fierce fighter and excellent diplomat, any attempt of Hideyoshi to kill him risked his entire position.
Thus, he wanted to remove Tokugawa from near the seat of power – a very Classical move on Hideyoshi’s part. And thus, he offered Tokugawa a radical bargain.
Wikipedia: Tokugawa Ieyasu –
“In 1590, Hideyoshi attacked the last independent daimyo in Japan, Hojo Ujimasa. The Hojo clan ruled the eight provinces of the Kantō region in eastern Japan. Hideyoshi ordered them to submit to his authority and they refused. Ieyasu, though a friend and occasional ally of Ujimasa, joined his large force of 30,000 samurai with Hideyoshi's enormous army of some 160,000. Hideyoshi attacked several castles on the borders of the Hojo clan with most of his army laying siege to the castle at Odawara. […] During this siege, Hideyoshi offered Ieyasu a radical deal. He offered Ieyasu the eight Kantō provinces which they were about to take from the Hojo in return for the five provinces that Ieyasu currently controlled (including Ieyasu's home province of Mikawa). Ieyasu accepted this proposal. […]
“This was possibly the riskiest move Ieyasu ever made — to leave his home province and rely on the uncertain loyalty of the formerly Hojo samurai in Kanto.”
This was the last great Classical consolidationary move of Hideyoshi’s career – he maximized his minimum gain and removed the risk of Tokugawa Ieyasu near the center of power.
It was the most Romantic bargain Tokugawa Ieyasu was ever forced to accept – the Kanto provinces, including Edo (which became modern Tokyo), were of unknown quality. Potentially much richer, but not at all certain in quality.
Tokugawa accepted, and re-based himself far away from the center of power.
And thus, with the conquest of the Hojo, Hideyoshi Toyotomi had destroyed his last credible armed enemy, and placed the most dangerous potential insurgent far away from the sources of his power.
HOW THE ROMANTIC PLAYER GETS ADDICTED TO ROMANCE
I must confess – my natural inclinations were highly Romantic – my teens and 20’s were a set of unconsolidated rapid gains, bold actions, often spinning up one project before another completed.
I feel like many people take some risks early in life, and for the people whose risks pay off huge at a young age, there is a natural tendency to become Romantic and to love the excitement of it.
A great many of my young, potentially reckless moves paid off large – I became entrained thus, through osmosis and not necessarily intentionally, to love and embrace Romantic Play. I dropped out of a private high school my sophomore year, and spent my time learning computers and reading at the university. This didn’t stop me from getting into an excellent IB high school my junior year, and – really, with really not enough preparation – being part of the teams that won the Mock Trial and Model UN state championships. I dropped out of that high school, though, too, and yet was still able to – through a mix of a little cleverness and a lot of luck – rapidly take and pass my GED , and then convert that GED to a high school diploma at an adult school, and still get nearly a full scholarship to university, where, not surprisingly, I dropped out after three semesters.
When you keep making risky bets, and good things happen while nothing very bad happens, you can get addicted to the thrill of bold action, risk-taking, and Romantic Play – this is fine, perhaps, for getting started, but the danger is in not realizing when things have changed. Until the age of 28 years old, or so, nearly everything I did was done Romantically. There were a lot of successes, but a lot of backsliding and failures and aggravations.
Working with Kai began to change me – he’s hyper-classical. He has around a 99% success rate on his major projects… whereas my success rate had been around 30% when I took an honest look at it. To be sure, my 30% included some big successes, more than enough to keep going, but often I’d fail to consolidate the gains.
Dr. Pulsipher notes that Romantic Players are often sloppy tacticians who cannot endure and grind out decent games if their big bets fail to pay off early, and this was me. Kai and I wrote Gateless together in 2014, our first very large collaboration together after years of friendship, and I started to see the value of his Classical style. But even then, I ran GiveGetWin Tour I in a way that really could have disintegrated (and only didn’t through force of will, some luck, and multiple all-nighters to force things to succeed). GiveGetWin Summer Camp I the next year, likewise, was highly Romantically played – it really could have failed; without Kai stabilizing both Tour I and Camp I, both would have failed, actually.
To this point in my life, I’d had many abandoned – sometimes catastrophically failed – projects. My “mostly written books” in draft form that’ll stay forever unfinished list crept up every two years or so; frankly, I didn’t know how to guarantee that successes would happen if the Romantic “big bets” didn’t pay off on and get past the finish line on momentum.
But these failures were a blessing for me, actually, forcing me to reexamine my premises. 12 years after starting university at age 17, I went back and took a couple boring classes to finish my undergraduate degree; after a severe illness and surgery, I sat down and slowly started focusing on one thing at a time. Laid up and recovering from surgery, Roguelike was the first book I fanatically hyper-focused on, and it was my first success running purely Classically from start to finish.
Since then, I’ve nearly completely switched my orientations – these days, I have a “Doctrine” file that lists the only five things I’ll do: writing TSR, building GiveGetWin, building Ultraworking, training in one Impact Area, and the basic “stay sane” stuff like health, adherence, and spending whatever time I can with my closest friends.
I still have the Romantic skillset in my toolbox – I can get going things going from scratch – but I was tempered and hardened by all the failure, and spent the last few years constantly training in operations, systems, consistency, habits, thoroughness, slowing down and doing everything as correctly as possible – deferring new projects until everything currently happening is guaranteed to succeed, and all the gains have been harvested.
AN ACUTE STRIKE OF ROMANCE
Hideyoshi Toyotomi, though, had experienced almost no failure on his rise to success.
On his death bed, Tokugawa Ieyasu – the final Great Unifier of Japan – would collect a “testament” of guidance for his descendants.
In it, one line sticks out to this amateur historian as having not been remarked enough through the ages –
“If thou only knowest what it is to conquer, and knowest not what it is to be defeated; woe unto thee, it will fare ill with thee.”
I’ve heard no one else say it, but I think Ieyasu must have been referring to Hideyoshi when he said it. Who else could he have been referring to?
Toyotomi Hideyoshi had risen from peasant sandal-bearer, to soldier, to officer, to Oda Clan General, to samurai lord (daimyo), to de facto ruler of the Oda Clan in the aftermath of Nobunaga’s assassination, to ruler of all Japan – Kampaku, Grand Regent – through a mix of risky bets that had all paid off.
All along, though, he had leaned on Kuroda Kanbei – who would take risks, but balanced them with a strong cautious Classical streak – and he successfully consolidated most of his gains.
In full control of Japan, Hideyoshi had consolidated all of his gains. In January 1582, after Hideyoshi’s first son and half-brother had both died of natural causes, he named his nephew – his beloved sister’s son Hidetsugu – his heir. Hidetsugu was 23 years old, a seasoned battlefield commander, and well-respected by all the Toyotomi officers.
Hideyoshi, correctly, officially retired as “Kampaku” and turned the title and official job of ruling Japan over to Hidetsugu; Hideyoshi took the title “Taiko” – Retired Grand Regent.
Had Hideyoshi died in 1582, his family would almost certainly have gone on to rule Japan in the way that Tokugawa would later rule.
But, in the year 1582, at the age of 56 years old, Hideyoshi still very much alive and feeling rather bored just a few months into retirement.
Feeling restless, his Romantic Inclinations kicked in.
And thus began the beginning of the end of the Toyotomi Clan.
Wikipedia: Hideyoshi Toyotomi: Decline of Power –
“With Hideyoshi's health beginning to falter, but still yearning for some accomplishment to solidify his legacy, he adopted Oda Nobunaga's dream of a Japanese conquest of China and launched the conquest of the Ming dynasty by way of Korea.”
Hideyoshi Toyotomi had risen from an unknown peasant sandal-bearer, to soldier, to general, to samurai lord, to leader of the Oda Clan, to ruler of all of Japan – but it was not enough for him.
When the Korean Kingdom refused to allow the Toyotomi forces safe passage through to fight China, Ishida Mitsunari was soon leading a 158,000 soldier invasion, taking many of the best and most loyal Toyotomi officers and soldiers with him.
PRINCESS CHACHA’S REVENGE
When Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s forces had defeated Shibata Katsuie 10 years earlier in 1583, Katsuie’s three step-daughters had been escorted from the castle and given safe passage to Hideyoshi’s camp.
The oldest was Princess Chacha, 14 years old at the time. She watched her mother and step-father die in the flames of Katsuie’s castle.
She was noted for her immense beauty right away, but many surviving sources noted Hideyoshi’s loyal retainers and his faithful first wife Nene taking an immediate dislike the princess. Something was… off… about her.
Perhaps it’s understandable – seeing your parents die and your home burned to the ground at age 14 must be a scarring experience.
Over the next 10 years, she became first the concubine, then the wife of Hideyoshi Toyotomi.
More than anything else in the world, Hideyoshi had wanted a son of his own. He had been unable to conceive with his wife Nene or with any of his concubines.
I’ve talked with many Japanese who know the history well, and it’s widely-agreed that Hideyoshi was almost certainly impotent; for whatever reason, he could not conceive a child his first wife or any of his many consorts across the first 50 years of his life.
But with the Hideyoshi at the age of 50, Princess Chacha was able to conceive. She gave birth to two sons over the next six years. The supposed first son died young, the second – Hideyori – was to be the ruin of the Toyotomi Clan.
A Japanese professor’s take on Chacha and Hideyori –
“"Toyotomi Hideyori was an illegitimate child...", claims a Kyushu University professor. Toyotomi Hideyori (1593-1615) was not Hideyoshi's biological son…”
“Hideyoshi, in spite of having many wives, was not blessed with an abundance of children. His relationship with the concubine Chacha, which he consumated when he was over 50 years old, was the only one that produced children - the prematurely born Tsurumatsu, followed by Hideyori.”
“From the early Edo period theories abounded that Hideyori's father was Ono Harunaga, a retainer of the Toyotomi household […] It was at this stage that Professor Hattori, after calculating backwards from Hideyori's birthday on the 3rd day of the 8th month of Bunroku 2 (1593), examined whether Hideyoshi and Chacha could have shared the same bed on or around the 4th of the 11th month of the previous year…”
The Professor constructed a number of diaries of the era. His conclusion? Hideyori could not, in fact, have been Hideyoshi’s son.
HIDETSUGU’S END, AND THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF THE TOYOTOMI
Princess Chacha is one of the most hated figures in Japanese history – Hideyoshi is seen as a nationally treasured figure in Japan for his miraculous rise, reforms, and brilliance through the first 50 years of his career… but the last decade of his life un-did the Toyotomi Clan entirely.
Whereas the Japanese men I’ve met and discussed history with largely blame Hideyoshi for the failings at the end of his illustrious career, the Japanese women I’ve discussed history universally revile Chacha as one of the worst people in Japanese history.
In 1595, at Chacha’s urging, Hideyoshi ordered the execution of his sister’s son and his adult heir Hidetsugu, naming Chacha’s (likely illegitimate) son Hideyori as his heir instead.
Perhaps he was slipping in old age, but earlier in his career, Hideyoshi had largely been merciful whenever possible to secondary figures and family members of the defeated. But with Hidetsugu’s death – and likely at Chacha’s urging – his whole household was butchered.
Wikipedia: Toyotomi Hidetsugu –
“Controversially, Hideyoshi ordered the execution of Hidetsugu's entire family, including children, wives and mistresses, at Sanjogawara. The harshness and brutality of executing 39 women and children shocked Japanese society and alienated many Daimyos from Toyotomi rule. Combined with the fact that Hidetsugu was the last adult member of the Toyotomi clan besides Hideyoshi himself, the whole incident is often seen to be one of the key causes of the Toyotomi downfall. In a particularly tragic case, Hideyoshi refused to spare the life of Mogami Yoshiaki's 15-year-old daughter, who had only just arrived in Kyoto to become Hidestugu's concubine and had not yet even met her husband-to-be. Her death caused the powerful Mogami clan to zealously support Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Battle of Sekigahara against Toyotomi loyalist forces, a mere 5 years later.”
AS THE ROMANTIC UNMAKES THE CLASSICAL
Well, this has ended on an unpleasant note, no?
My apologies. Hideyoshi’s career was so brilliant and beautiful for the first 50 years of it, but in the end, he was unable to stop.
But do note, this all actually happened.
Those of us who strive and take risks should learn well these lessons – many brilliant world-building type people rise through taking Romantic risks at various times in their lives, but are unable to stop themselves and shift into Classical Play when risks are no longer called-for.
The Invasion of Korea was certainly a Romantic type risk, and really quite foolish for the Toyotomi to dispatch from his newly unified Japan…
… he might have even gotten away with that, though, if both himself and Princess Chacha had not behaved so romantically in pursuit of sole power for their young son – at least, Chacha’s son – at the expense of the talented and solid Hidetsugu.
The classical player carefully maximizes his minimum gains.
The romantic player tries to maximize his maximum gain, at the cost of increasing potential loss.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi ruled the Nation of Japan, his succession was secure through his nephew, but he could not stop taking risks – he wanted maximum gain… even at the cost of increasing potential loss.
And they would, indeed, lose everything.
LEARNING WELL THE LESSONS OF CLASSICAL AND ROMANTIC PLAY
The three main takeaways you should learn –
1. You should be able to identify Classical and Romantic Play in other people, and their natural motivations. It has immense predictive power.
2. You should be able to identify what situations you are playing Romantically, and what situations you are playing Classically. You should always know which is which.
3. If you’re playing Romantically, you absolutely must learn when to stop and shift gears to Classical. Contrast George Washington, Otto von Bismarck, Mustafa Kemal, Deng Xiaoping, and Tokugawa Ieyasu with Hideyoshi Toyotomi, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Alexander of Macedon, etc. Choosing “Romantic Play indefinitely” has, historically, a very predictable outcome.
Please study this thoroughly. This concept is incredibly useful, and potentially life-changing.
NEXT WEEK ON TSR: PATIENCE
With the world at peace, messengers were not often hurrying at a gallop like they used to back in the day.
In the summer of 1595, when one of Hanzo’s ninja arrived at a furious pace and requested immediately to meet Lord Tokugawa, it was of course granted immediately.
When informed of Hidetsugu’s execution, Ieyasu simply replied –
“Huh. Well, that’s a curious decision.”
Shortly afterwards, Tokugawa Ieyasu was named to the “Council of Five Regents” to govern Japan if Hideyoshi died before his new child heir came of age.
Three years later, in the Autumn of 1598, one of the Tokugawa ninja again came galloping at a furious pace.
“Lord Hideyoshi has died.”
Ieyasu nods and shows no expression on his face.
The Civil War would break out anew two years later.
I’ll see you next week on TSR for Patience.
Until then, yours,
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