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A shogun and a head of family eligible for regents with many children - Ienari Tokugawa, Harutaka Nijo

It is a well-known story that Ienari Tokugawa had many children, so I think many people know about them, but I also learned that Harutaka Nijo, who was roughly the same generation, had many children, so I tried to find out which one was more amazing. I don't think it will provide any useful knowledge or education.


It is said that when the 11th Shogun Ienari (1773-1841) was adopted into the Shogun family, he was instructed by his biological father (Harusada Hitotsubashi) to have more children. I actually counted and found that 53 children were born to 17 wives. There were 25 men and 28 women, and of these, 17 (8 men, 9 women) survived beyond the age of 20, giving an adult survival rate of 32%.

On the other hand, the number of wives of Harutaka Nijo (1754-1826) is unknown, but he had 46 children (17 boys, 29 girls), which was less than Ienari. However, the adult survival rate was 59% (8 males, 19 females), meaning that the number of survivors who reached adulthood was far greater than that of Ienari.

Also, Ienari had his first child when he was 16 years old and his last child when he was 54 years old, but at his peak (late 30s to early 40s), he was having about 2 children per year. In Harutaka's case, his first child was born when he was 22 years old and his last child was born when he was 57 years old, but strangely enough, the peak was also in his late 30s to early 40s at a rate of 2 children/year. From this point of view, I don't know if people in their 30s and 40s can be called the prime of men.

Given the standard of medical care at the time, there were many cases of children dying young, but considering the economic power of the shoguns, they were by far the richest, and it is no wonder that so many sons of shoguns, who were able to receive top-notch medical services at the time, died young. I read somewhere that many shoguns during the Edo period who ate only white rice were deficient in vitamin B1, suffered from beriberi, and died prematurely, but perhaps this was the theory that wealth and health were not proportional.

In both cases, as successors become established and children grow up, they have difficulty finding adoptive homes and marriage partners. The Nijo family was a regent family and had a high status, but Harutaka adopted four sons and married nine daughters to a temple. At that time, court nobles generally lived a harsh life, and it is thought that this was not only for daimyo and court nobles, but also for wealthy temples. Tadanari Mizuno, an elder statesman, tried his best to find adoptive homes for Ienari's children. The easiest to understand is that they sent adopted children through aid programs and packages, such as increasing their territory (Fukui, Akashi, and Tsuyama domains) or exchanging territory for higher-yielding territory (Owari domain).

The daughters married the feudal lords of their parent clans and outsiders, but both the Ishikawa gate in Kanazawa Castle, my hometown, was called the Shiro-mon(white gate), and the Akamon(red gate) of the University of Tokyo were constructed as a set, when the 21st daughter, Yōhime, married Nariyasu Maeda, the lord of the Kaga domain. In order to receive a bride from the shogunate family, the family would be forced to bear a large amount of expenses, so only huge feudal lords who could afford it would have been able to accept it (the Uesugi family, who could not afford it, desperately refused requests for brides).

In Ienari's generation, Mito Nariaki (1600-1660) was also around the same age and had many children (21 boys and 15 girls), but Ienari seemed to like dairy products like cheese, while Nariaki liked milk and beef. Cows may be the keyword for lots of babies. Giona from India, who recently passed away, is said to have 38 wives and 89 children. Apparently they belonged to a Christian sect that promoted polygamy, so he must have eaten cow products.



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