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Tokugawa Yoshinobu

Tokugawa Yoshinobu (徳川慶喜 1837-1913) was born in Mito[?], Japan, seventh son of Tokugawa Nariaki[?], Daimyo of Mito, inferior of the the Three Houses[?] or Families that would be eligible for Tokugawa shogunate.

Born with the name Tokugawa Keiki, Keiki was brought up under strict supervision and tutelage by mostly male educators of his father. Taught in the arts, swordfighting[?], martial arts, politics and government, Keiki would be discovered as an evidently promising future leader, being highly intelligent with keen leadership skills.

He would be adopted by his father to the Hitotsubashi family to be able to have a slightly higher advantage of being a shogunal successor. Upon the death of the 13th shogun, Shogun Ietsuna, in 1858, Tokugawa Keiki, daimyo of Hitotsubashi, is nominated as Shogun, with supporters showing his skill in efficiently managing Hitotsubashi government at young age. But enemies led by Ii Naosuke gained support and put up Tokugawa Iemochi as 14th Shogun. Tokugawa Keiki, his supporters and his family are placed under severe house arrest.

The reign of Tokugawa Iemochi is marked by incompetence and mismanagement of government. Upon the assassination of Ii Naosuke in 1860, to save Tokugawa Bafuku from self destruction, Tokugawa Keiki is nominated in 1862 to be a member of the 5-man council of elders (advisers), the Roju. Keiki then takes up numerous steps to quell the rising rebellion, and gathering allies to counter the rebelling state of Choshu and deals with foreign states. In 1864, Keiki successfully defeated the Choshu forces in their attempt to capture the imperial gates in Hamaguri, allying with forces from Satsuma and others.

In 1866, Shogun Iemochi falls ill and dies, leaving the Tokugawa bafuku very weak and losing control, with no successor competent enough to save the government. Tokugawa Keiki is strongly supported by all Tokugawas and its allies as the only person with enough skill and experience to save Government. Tokugawa Keiki is appointed 15th Tokugawa Shogun in 1866, taking the name Tokugawa Yoshinobu. Immediately upon Yoshinobu's assencion as shogun, major changes are then initiated. A huge government overhaul is then undertaken to start reforms to strengthen the Tokugawa government.

A national army and navy are formed and the outlook is that the Tokugawa Bafuku is gaining ground towards renewed strength and power. Fearing the renewed strengthening of the Tokugawas under a strong and wise ruler, daimyos from Satsuma, Choshu and Tosa form an alliance to counter the bafuku. Under the banner of sonno-joi and the propaganda of the "Rebirth of Ieyasu" to usurp the Emperor, they waged war against the Tokugawa bafuku, successfully gaining strong support from other daimyos. After a number of huge losses on the side of the Tokugawa, still reeling from its past weakness, Yoshinobu agrees that the Tokugawa will not win the civil war, and that Japan needs to be united strong against more potent and powerful foreigners. In 1867, Yoshinobu steps down as shogun, returning all power to the Emperor. He is placed under house arrest, removed of all titles, land and power. He was later on released, as he showed no more interest and ambition in national affairs. He retires in Shizuoka, the retiring place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of Tokugawa shogunate. in 1905 he is given title as Imperial Prince of Nippon, given by the Emperor for his loyal service to Japan. Prince Tokugawa Yoshinobu died in 1937.



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