Frequently, when talking about Nobunaga's "Demon feats" with people, I couldn't help but ending to repeat "This is probably some Edo fabrication" at least a thousand times for each word, and I know that when I do my listeners tend to hate me, as if I'm "spoiling" their favourite character from a fanfiction.
Truth is, that much about what we consider "historical facts" of Sengoku Era are pretty much legends or details coming straight from popular fiction of the Edo era. One of these examples are the kabuki plots: everytime you hear about Nobunaga beating Mitsuhide, or making him do humiliating things, keep in mind that that's probably some scene from a play.
You can tell that Edo period did to Sengoku era what the Reinassance did to classic culture and what Humanism did to Reinassance: in case of lack of informations, they made up stuff to fill gaps according to their sensitivities.
It's a bit disturbing to realize that probably history is not that "exact science" that scholars assume it is, after all even the most blatant sources must be interpreted and contextualized by a third party, and all the final results would always be "personal" results.
This long introduction served the purpose to create the right mood to talk about this certain guy, Oda Nobumasa.
I stumbled upon this name during one of my usual researches on Nobunaga, and I was surprised to see him listed as Nobunaga's older son, as I never heard of him.
Both curious and perplexed, I tried to find out more, and I saw that Nobumasa was Nobunaga's illegitimate son and, on top of it-- He's an Edo fabrication.
This guy is mentioned on two books: the first is the "Keizu Sanyou" ("Genealogical Summary"), compiled around the XIX century, and the second is the "Kouko Ruisan" ("Classification of Antiquities"), compiled around 1902.
As the second source probably used the first as reference, there are lots of informations about this guy on the "Keizu Sanyou", stuff that we don't even got to know about existing historical character-- The biography of this guy is really entertaining.
He was born on 1554 in Nagoya Castle, an illegitimate son that Nobunaga had with Harada Naoko, a little sister of Harada Naomasa, one of Nobunaga's retainers.
Soon after his birth, he was adopted by Murai Sadakatsu, who would raise him as his own son. On 1566 the boy would receive his genpuku and his first adult name, Shigekatsu. On the march of the same year, he would move to Furuwatari Castle with his mother, becoming the lord of that castle.
He married Kyo-hime, the daughter of Oda Nobuhiro, but he wouldn't miss the chance to have a daughter of Sadakatsu as his concubine.
His first uijin would be fueled by the March of Kyoto of Nobunaga: on 1568 he took part in the Siege of Kannonji Castle, where, due to his valor, he received a letter of commendation and a sword from Ashikaga Yoshiaki himself.
On 1574 he was appointed Jugoinoge ("Junior Fifth Rank") and the Lord of Osumi Province.
On this same year his heir was born, Nobuhiro. He would marry the daughter of Oda Nobutaka.
He was appointed as kuge on 1577.
On 1582, during the Incident of Honnoji, he was be at Nijo Palace in service of Nobutada with Maeda Gen'i.
He took the tonsure on 1585 in Kenshouji of Kyoto, spending there the rest of his life, even if both Hideyoshi and Ieyasu tried to lure him back in action in their ranks. His monk name was Kenshouken and died on 1647, aged 94.
Well, one must admit that it's an entertaining story, at least.
Must be noted that, even if the "Keizu Sanyo" is considered an important source of informations, other sources, considered more reliable, sport no mention of Nobumasa.
One for all, the "Kansei Choushuu Shokafu" ("Kansei Continued Lineages of the Houses"), compiled around the end of the XVIII century, and considered the official genealogy of the Bakufu, but even on the Imperial registers are no mentions of this guy and his titles.
Also, an important hint is that Furuwatari Castle was abandoned ("haijou") on 1548, so it's impossible that Nobumasa was the lord of that castle.
On a parting note, a few words on the beautiful print of Kuniyoshi that is decorating this post, coming straight from his "Taiheiki Eiyuuden" ("Heroes of the Grand Pacification") collection of prints and portraying Nobunaga.
These popular biographies of samurai from the past were quite popular during the Edo period: they worked as both informative and entertaining material. Despite the educational purpose, though, here you can spot Nobunaga during a scene of one of the kabuki play that we mentioned at the beginning of this post: it's "Badarai no Mitsuhide", the scene of the first act where Nobunaga destroyed the flags with the Akechi kamon that Mitsuhide used to decorate Azuchi castle to welcome Ieyasu for his visit. --After all I don't think that we will ever get rid of these fun, entertaining Edo fabrications--