The Siege of Osaka is one of the key historical events that Tale of Ronin takes inspiration from and Toyotomi Hideyori is one of the most important people involved. In the game and in real life, Hideyori was the son of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of Japan’s ‘Three Great Unifiers.’ Hideyoshi was not born a samurai, having started out as a mere ashigaru. As a result, he could not become the shogun, but he still united and ruled Japan for years.
When Hideyoshi died in 1598, Hideyori was just five years old. To avoid conflict, he had arranged for the land to be governed by a council of five regents while Hideyori was too young to rule. However, Tokugawa Ieyasu seized control and became Japan’s shogun after his victory at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. This made young Hideyori an obstacle to the older and notoriously unscrupulous Ieyasu.
Hideyori tried to lie low in Osaka Castle, considered the strongest fortress in Japan, and pretended to be weaker and more effeminate than he actually was. This ruse couldn’t last forever, and in 1611, the jig was up. Ieyasu had begun scheming against the young lord in earnest. Even after Hideyori married Ieyasu’s granddaughter Senhime, the conflict between the two men seemed inevitable.
As the Winter Siege of Osaka began in 1614, a distressed Hideyori accepted that Ieyasu truly intended to harm him and began recruiting ronin. Tens of thousands of displaced warriors answered the call, building an army of about 90,000 veteran fighters. Hideyori’s cause became a beacon of hope to the many ronin wandering Japan, searching for purpose, employment, or simply an honorable death.
In 1615, Ieyasu negotiated a truce that involved destroying the outer defenses of Osaka Castle. Shortly after, he attacked the defenseless castle a second time. Hideyori and his mother committed suicide in the burning castle, while Hideyori’s seven-year-old son Kunimatsu was executed and his eight-year-old daughter Naahime was only spared by Senhime adopting her. Naahime was taken to Tokeiji temple, where she would stay for the rest of her life. The Toyotomi clan was utterly destroyed.
With Hideyori’s death, the ronin who had flocked to his banner were once again adrift. Tale of Ronin takes place twenty years after the Siege of Osaka. In this game, rumors have begun to spread that Hideyori actually survived the siege or has returned from the dead. Either way, the stories say he craves vengeance, and countless ronin across the land are once again spurred to action in his name.
Some of them wish to regain their privileged positions, but others are seeking their own revenge against the Tokugawa clan and the Edo bakufu. You will have the opportunity to explore the many reasons a ronin could latch onto Hideyori as a symbol of hope.