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Kuroda Yoshitaka (黒田 孝高, December 22, 1546 – March 20, 1604), also known as Kuroda Kanbei (黒田 官兵衛, Kuroda Kanbee), was a Japanese daimyō of the late Sengoku through early Edo periods. Renowned as a man of great ambition, he was a chief strategist and adviser to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Kuroda became a Christian when he was 38, and received "Simeon Josui" as a baptismal name (rekishijin). His quick wit, bravery, and loyalty were respected by his warriors.
Kuroda Yoshitaka was born in Himeji on December 22, 1546, as Mankichi (万吉), the son of Kuroda Mototaka. The Kuroda clan are believed to have originated in Ōmi Province. Yoshitaka's grandfather Shigetaka brought the family to Himeji and took up residence at Gochaku Castle (御着城), east of Himeji Castle.
Shigetaka served as a senior retainer of Kodera Masamoto, the lord of Himeji, and was so highly praised that Shigetaka's son Mototaka was allowed to marry Masamoto's adopted daughter (Akashi Masakaze’s daughter) and to use the Kodera name. Kuroda became the head of the Kuroda family at the age of 21 when his father, Mototaka, retired. Yoshitaka succeeded to the family headship in 1567.
Service under Nobunaga and ImprisonmentEdit
In 1567, he fought in the Siege of Inabayama Castle against the Saitō clan. A few years later, with Toyotomi Hideyoshi spearheading the Oda clan's advance into the Chūgoku region, he pledged loyalty to the Oda. Yoshitaka, together with the sickly Takenaka Hanbei, served as Hideyoshi's strategists and assisted in the campaign against the Mōri clan.
In 1577, Arioka/Itami Castle's lord, Araki Murashige, concluded an alliance with the Mouri to revolt against the Oda clan. An ally, Masamoto Kodera, also framed a plot to cooperate with Araki. Then in 1578, Kuroda went to Arioka castle to prevail on Araki not to defect against the Oda.  Araki chose to imprison Yoshitaka instead. Araki's revolt eventually concluded in 1579 at the Siege of Itami, culminating in Yoshitaka's rescue. Due to his long imprisonment (with lack of space for sleeping and sitting), Yoshitaka suffered a leg disorder and lost his eyesight in one eye for the rest of his life.
Continued Service under HideyoshiEdit
Shortly before 1587, Yoshitaka was ordered by Hideyoshi to lead an attack into Siege of Kagoshima at Kyushu. Along with him was the Christian daimyō Takayama Ukon. After seeing the thriving Christian population of Kyushu, under Ukon's influence, Yoshitaka was baptized with the name ドン・シメオン (Dom Simeão = Don Simeon). After a visit to the Jesuit-controlled port of Nagasaki, Hideyoshi became fearful of the powerful influence that Jesuits and the Christian daimyōs wielded.
In 1587, he made his famous edict that expelled foreign missionaries and ordered all the Christian samurai under his rule to abandon their faith. While Ukon resisted the edict and lost his status, Yoshitaka gave up his new religion and adopted a monk's habit, calling himself Josui (如水). Like Naitō Joan (who took his name from Portuguese João), it is believed that Yoshitaka chose his new name from "Josué", the Portuguese version of "Joshua". His most prominent act during his short time as a Christian was his arrangement to save a Jesuit mission from Bungo when the Christian daimyō of that province, Ōtomo Sōrin, was under attack from the Shimazu clan.
As depicted in historical writings and contemporary television, it is suggested that Kuroda was simultaneously feared by Hideyoshi, despite his attempts to under-estimate his intelligence and influence. It is alleged that Hideyoshi's fear was due to his overwhelming debt to Yoshitaka, having helped him reign over the whole country as his shadow strategist, with Hideyoshi even believing that the Kuroda might overthrow him eventually. In addition, Kuroda deepened a friendship with Sen no Rikyū, known as the founder of the Japanese tea ceremony "wabi-cha", and who was later put to death by Hideyoshi himself.
Kuroda was a frugal person, and he sold used military equipment and personal belongings to his vassals. He saved enough money to pay mercenaries in the Sekigahara War due to his thrifty mind. His last words were, "Do not try to gain other people's favor and do not wish for wealth." He was also involved in the project to build principal castles: Himeji castle, Nagoya castle, Osaka castle, and Hiroshima castle under the reign of the Toyotomis.
Yoshitaka made an attempt to conquer the region of Kyūshū during the Battle of Sekigahara, but this ended up in failure even though he was able to momentarily gain the control of over seven provinces in Kyūshū due to Tokugawa Ieyasu's victory in the Battle of Sekigahara and his conquest of Osaka. After moving to Chikuzen Province (筑前国 Chikuzen no kuni) which today is part of Fukuoka Prefecture, the Kuroda built a new castle near Hakata-ku (博多区), and named it Fukuoka Castle (福岡城, Fukuoka-jō) also known as Maizuru Castle (舞鶴城 Maizuru-jō) or Seki Castle (石城 Seki-jō) which was completed in the early Edo period for tozama daimyō Kuroda Nagamasa. After his son Nagamasa succeeded him, Yoshitaka died on April 19, 1604. His grave is in the Namazuta area of Iizuka, Fukuoka, near the original site of Namazuta Castle.
In the Sengoku Basara games and anime, he was seen with chains attached to a metal ball around his hands, and running gags occur when he is near to unlocking his chains.
- In Western literature, Kuroda Yoshitaka is also known as: Simon Kondera, Simone Condera, Simon Condera, Simeon Condera, for "Simon 小寺（こでら）--"小寺" might have been pronounced like /kõdeɾa/; Kodera Cambyoye, Kodera Kambyoye, Quadera Quanbioi, Condera-quansioye, Condera Quamvioyi, Condera Canbioye, for "小寺 官兵衛（くゎんびゃうゑ）"--"官兵衛" might have been pronounced like /kwãɸjo:je/ or /kambjo:je/; Kuroda Kambroye, Kuroda Cuwanbioye, Kuroda Kuwanbiyauwe, for "黒田 官兵衛--"Condera/Kondera and Kuroda are distinct family names.; Condera Combioendono, Condera Combiendono, for "小寺 官兵衛 殿"; Cambioiendono, Quambioi-dono, Quambioindono, for "官兵衛 殿（どの）"; Conder Yoshitaka for "小寺 孝高（よしたか）"; Kuroda Josui for "黒田（くろだ） 如水（じょすい）"; Iosui for "如水"--"I" was the capital letter for both "i" and "j"; "Kuroda Kageyu" for "黒田 勘解由（かげゆ）"--勘解由 was an abbreviation form of 勘解由次官（かげゆのすけ）; Simeon Kuroda for "Simeon 黒田". "Kambroye" is considered to be what "Kambyoye" was mis-read as; and "s" for "quansioye” is considered to be what "f" was mis-read as--before 18th century, the letter "s" was sometimes spelled as "ſ" (long s), which is similar to "f"."
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