Tokugawa Ietsugu

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Tokugawa Ietsugu
Tokugawa ietsugu.jpg
7th Edo Shogun
In office
Preceded by Tokugawa Ienobu
Succeeded by Tokugawa Yoshimune
Personal details
Born (1709-08-08)August 8, 1709
Died June 19, 1716(1716-06-19) (aged 6)
Relations Father:
Tokugawa Ienobu

Tokugawa Ietsugu; 徳川 家継 (August 8, 1709 – June 19, 1716) was the seventh shogun of the Tokugawa Dynasty, who ruled from 1713 until his death in 1716. He was the son of Tokugawa Ienobu, thus making him the grandson of Tokugawa Tsunashige, daimyo of Kofu, great-grandson of Tokugawa Iemitsu, great-great grandson of Tokugawa Hidetada, and finally the great-great-great grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Early Life (1709-1713)

Tokugawa Ietsugu was born in 1709 in Edo, being the eldest son of Shogun Tokugawa Ienobu and concubine, Gekkōin. At that time, his father was shogun, and was being advised by his long-time Confucian advisor, Arai Hakuseki, who held considerable influence in the shogun's court at Edo. At the time Ietsugu was born, his father, Ienobu, was 48. His childhood name was Nobumatsu kimi. Arai had traced the Tokugawa family's bloodline back to the Minamoto family, the founders of the first Shogunate. Thus, Ietsuga also was called Minamoto no Ietsugu. He was only three years old when his father died, upon which he became Shogun Ietsugu.[1]

Shogun (1713-1716)

Although Shogun Ietsugu assumed the role as formal head of the bakufu,[2] he was still a toddler. As he was not old or able enough to rule, he was put under the protection and advice of Confucian scholar Arai Hakuseki. Two problems were addressed during Ietsugu's reign: currency reform and foreign trade in Kyūshū. Ietsugu did not take much care of the country's matters; and his advisors, namely Arai Hakuseki, addressed them.

In 1713, prices were rising. Thus, after various proposals (most after the death of Ienobu) submitted to Shogun Ietsugu and Arai, it was decided to create a new currency. In 1714, the new metallic currency was introduced. While rice had increased during the rule of Ienobu, after the currency was introduced during the rule of Ietsugu, it fell to a lower level.

The currency reform was closely linked to foreign trade. In 1716, only Dutch and Chinese merchant ships could trade from Dejima in Nagasaki. Reform of the currency system also led to reform of trade rules as well. In 1716, a document was addressed saying that the bakufu would appoint two commissioners of Foreign Trade in Edo and Nagasaki, and that 30 Chinese ships and 2 Dutch ships be allowed to enter the country each year. Nonetheless, Japan still remained very isolated.


File:Mausoleum of Yushoin.JPG
Mausoleum of Ietsugu (posthumously known as Yushoin) at Zōjō-ji in Shiba Park

In Shōtoku 6, on the 30th day of the 4th month (1716), Shogun Ietsugu died of complications of a cold, at the age of six.[3] He had not done much to rule—but was thought of as a playful and mischievous character. Since he left no children or direct heir, the direct paternal line of Tokugawa Ieyasu died out with him (one hundred years after Ieyasu died himself). Nonetheless, there were still collateral lineal branches descended from Ieyasu through one of his many children, and the new shogun, Tokugawa Yoshimune, was chosen from one of these lineal Tokugawa branches.

Eras of Ietsugu's bakufu

The years in which Ietsugu was shogun are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.[2]


  1. Screech, T. (2006). Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779-1822, p. 97.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Titsingh, I. (1834). Annales du empereurs du Japon, p. 416.
  3. Screech, p. 98.


Military offices
Preceded by
Tokugawa Ienobu
Edo Shogun:
Tokugawa Ietsugu

Succeeded by
Tokugawa Yoshimune