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(born 1536/37, Nakamura, Owari province, Japandied Sept. 18, 1598, Fushimi) One of the three unifiers of premodern Japan (with Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu) who brought the nation out of its Warring States period. He began life as a peasant but was raised to the rank of samurai (warrior) while a soldier for Nobunaga. After Nobunaga's death, he was appointed kampaku (chancellor to the emperor). Having concluded an alliance with his former rival Ieyasu, he became in 1590 the head of an alliance of daimyo that constituted a government of national unification. To stabilize society, he imposed the division of society into warriors, farmers, artisans, and tradesmen (an adaptation of ancient Chinese social divisions) and confiscated swords from all but the warriors. With visions of empire, he made two destructive but unsuccessful attempts to invade Korea (1592, 1597). After his death, power passed to Ieyasu.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Toyotomi Hideyoshi, visit Britannica.com.
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